Johnny Mnemonic (1995)

Director: Robert Longo

Running Time: 96 Minutes

Certification: 15

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Dolph Lundgren, Dina Meyer, Ice-T, Takeshi Kitano, Denis Akiyama, Henry Rollins, Barbara Sukowa, Udo Kier

Before The Matrix exploded onto the scene, and Cyberpunk 2077 was a highly anticipated videogame, there was only one place you could see Keanu Reeves in a cyberpunk reality. Aided by director Robert Longo, writer William Gibson adapted one of his stories for the big screen. Despite its timely release during the internets growth, the film was considered a disappointment, yet it's influence is apparent to this day.

Set in the futuristic time of 2021(!), cyberspace has become the norm for all business and personal dealings, with the data transported in the heads of Mnemonic couriers. Johnny (Keanu Reeves) is one of the best, with 80GB of storage within his brain, although he'd rather have the storage taken out of his head to reclaim his lost memories. Intent on undergoing such a procedure, Johnny takes one last job which offers a substantial payday, although the data far exceeds his storage capacity. This puts Johnny in a race against time to extract the data, before he's killed by the various parties in pursuit, or the ticking time bomb in his head.

From his first appearance, we understand all we need to about Johnny. He wants to escape this lifestyle and piece together his missing memories, although he's thrust into a job more dangerous than he could have realised. As he ventures deeper down the rabbit hole, you believe in his increasing frustration and bafflement, thanks to Reeves' engaging portrayal. Aiding him on this mission are Jane (Dina Meyer), whose wishes to be a bodyguard are hindered by her condition, and Spider (Henry Rollins), a kindly surgeon. Of those chasing them, a special mention is deserved for Dolph Lundgren, bringing much fun as the pompous preacher mercenary.

There's a wider world which is begging to be explored, with every intention to flesh it out, and help audiences understand it. Unfortunately, it's delivered through too much exposition, taking precedence over the chases in this chase film. The aims are high, yet there's an abundance of plot points without the time to cover everything. Too many pieces are in play, leaving a scattershot focus, where grieving father Takahashi (Takeshi Kitano) amounts to little.

Most interesting is how this feels like a 90s time-piece, while also predicting where we've come with internet technology. On the one hand, the post-apocalyptic setting, set-design, and especially the effects feel rather dated, although it thankfully hasn't dated in offensive ways. On the other hand, this world dominated by giant tech corporations hits close to home, where everybody communicates with some form of a video call, and the virtual reality visor brings to mind the Oculus Quest. This may be a flawed film, yet over 25 years since its release, remains an interesting look at the future.

Johnny Mnemonic will be released on Digital Platforms in HD from May 10th