I Am Just like Johnny Mnemonic

Johnny Mnemonic is a bad movie. It cannot be saved by Ice-T or Henry Rollins or Beat Takashi, who are all bad-asses. It cannot be saved by Dolph Lundgren who plays a cyborg-priest-assassin. It cannot even be saved by the bionic dolphin that uses its high-frequency sonar to help Keanu Reeves hack into his brain so he can get the data the Pharmacon Corporation put in his brain and save the world.

I don't know what makes Johnny Mnemonic a bad movie. The screenplay was written by William Gibson (badass) who adapted it from a short story from his collection Burning Chrome (I can't remember the name of the story, but it is shorter with more action and there is some kind of duel on a net high above an underground society). I don't mind the costumes and the second rate set designs.

There are some good parts to this movie. There is a ninja with a thumb that turns into a laser-whip. He cuts Udo Kier into three pieces. He also chops off some heads. There is a part where Dolph Lundgren is sonared to death by a bionic dolphin. I don't think it is Keanu Reeves' fault that this movie sucks. I think Keanu Reeves is an interesting actor and people who think he is boring suck because he made a ton of rad movies and no one else can play the parts he plays. I feel like his part in Johnny Mnemonic is a part like this.

In his long essay about The Matrix, this is what Joshua Clover says about Keanu Reeves' acting in Johnny Mnemonic:

"Like Schwarzenegger's Terminator, Keanu Reeves was meant to realize himself as not-quite-human. But unlike the processed bodybuilder/future Governor, Keanu wasn't quite made to play a machine. With his unassignable looks (often attributed to his genetic heritage of Chinese, Caucasian, and Hawaiian) already seemingly digitally smoothed, and his immediate proffering of pure surface without depth, he's closer to the dream of a next generation - a post-modern poster boy. In both appearance and manner, his quality is that of the actor without qualities - the New Star, destined not to distract from the digital mise en scene but to integrate with it seamlessly."

This is a good thing to say about most of Keanu Reeves acting, maybe not his acting in classics such as Point Break, or Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. He is more expressive in those movies. But I think it applies to most of his movies, especially The Matrix movies and A Scanner Darkly.

Sometimes I feel like Johnny Mnemonic. Like I have all this important information in my head I can't get to because an evil corporation doesn't want me to have it and all I need is a super-intelligent bionic dolphin and Ice-T and Henry Rollins and I can save the world. Do you ever feel that way?



Bosco Ho said...

I recently re-read Neuromancer, and was rather surprised how well it held up. Gibson is a great writer. Ironically, he insists on using a typewriter to write his dystopian futuristic novels.

brian said...

In the new Iron Man comics he is the "world's most wanted man," because the bad guys have been given the reigns of power by the government, a position Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, used to have, and now they want to get him.

Moreover, the primary reason for them wanting to catch Tony is that he has somehow stored very important databases of information in his brain.

While the cat and mouse game plays out, Tony is intentionally lobotomizing himself piecemeal, incrementally removing the knowledge from his brain while trying to not turn himself into a vegetable.

It made me think that maybe we have all the answers from the beginning, this vast knowledge, and that life is merely the process of a slow lobotomy of understanding, replacing in it's stead a tedium of uselessness.

Anyways, there are times that I have a feeling of remembrance rather than discovery when considering some new philosophical idea. Sure, I'd probably heard of it or thought something along those lines in the past, but it feels odd, like I'm remembering something I never formally knew.

I wonder what Keanu would have to say about this. Probably more than "whoa."

bmirov said...

I feel like Iron Man, but with less super-villains.

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