‘Johnny Mnemonic’ Review: He Just Wanted Room Service!

Posted in Screening Room by - February 26, 2015

Johnny Mnemonic is a strange movie; not strange in a bad way, but strange in a what-the-hell-am-I-watching way. It features a dolphin that can emit brain waves, Dolph Lundgren as a cyborg street preacher, and Ice-T sporting crazy dreadlocks. It’s typical 90s science fiction, with visions of the future that are hilariously outdated and some weird performances that have to be seen to be believed.

The plot follows Johnny, played surprisingly exuberant by Keanu Reeves, as he attempts to get important stored information out of the data storage device implanted in his brain. Along the way he meets up with Jane, played by Starship Troopers Dina Meyer, who helps him figure out the code needed to dump the data. The data can only be accessed by using a three picture password that is conveniently separated during the upload process. The rest of the film revolves around Johnny trying to free himself of the data before he experiences “cerebral seepage” that would kill him. 

Keanu Reeves is one of my guilty pleasure actors and his performance in this film is why. He fully buys into his role as Johnny and goes for it in every scene. He brings an intensity to the role that other actors might not have due to the subject matter of the film. However, he does deliver a truly insane monologue about the things that he wants from life. The video quality isn’t great, but it’s worth a watch to see how absolutely nuts he goes.

However, the real unsung hero of the film is Dolph Lundgren as the nameless Street Preacher. He looks like a buff, partially-cybernetic, blonde Jesus who carries around nails to crucify people with and a cross that has a combat knife on the end. It’s as fucking insane as it sounds, and it may have caused Dolph Lundgren to leave acting, as it was his last film until The Expendables in 2010. The Preacher was my favorite part of the film, and he added the real insanity that puts the film over the top. 

Like Judge Dredd and Demolition Man, the film has that distinct 90s feel to it. All of the sets are “futuristic” in way that doesn’t really feel that way, along with everything having that twinge of Asian influence. Why screenwriters of sci-fi in the 90s felt that Asian culture was going to become “the future” is beyond me, but it’s still a trend now. It’s strange. The most laughable 90s trope is the film’s version of the Internet, which looks more like a video game and less like, well, the actual Internet. Johnny taps into the web a few times in the film, and I always got a good laugh out of it. 

The worst/strangest parts of the film come from Ice-T and Jones, the cybernetically-enhanced dolphin. Ice-T plays J-Bone, leader of the Lo Teks, a group of people that shun technology in favor of living off the grid. Ice-T looks certifiably insane in this movie, with an anarchy tattoo between his eyes and dreads that look unrealistic in the best way. He goes for it though and doesn’t phone it in, which must have been hard with all those dreads. The dophin, Jones, is the spot where the movie most likely loses most of the audience as it comes out of nowhere and makes little sense. Jones can communicate with humans through cybernetic implants on his head along with the help of a satellite dish that beams his thoughts. It’s crazy, totally 100% crazy.

If you’re looking for a sci-fi film that treads the line between sense and nonsensical, all while featuring Mr. Kung-Fu himself Keanu Reeves, then check out Johnny Mnemonic. However, if you want a film that makes sense and doesn’t have that 90s sci-fi cheese feel to skip it, your time would be better spent checking out something else, like The Matrix.

Final Say: Watch It If You Love 90’s Sci-Fi



This post was written by
Chris Stachiw is the Editor-in-Chief and co-host of the Kulturecast. He's a native Californian with a penchant for sarcasm and a taste for the cinematic bizarre. You'll often find him wandering the wasteland of Nebraska searching for the meaning of life and possibly another rare Pokemon.
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