Johnny Mnemonic: Max Headroom

We revisit the Nineties dystopian sci-fi adventure for its 25th anniversary HD release.

Johnny Mnemonic

If you’d asked us to guess which Nineties sci-fi movie was getting an HD release for its 25th anniversary, we wouldn’t have said Johnny Mnemonic, and yet here we are… You might have heard of Johnny Mnemonic; you might even have seen it – we did, once, a long time ago on TV and we forgot pretty much everything about it. Re-watching it now we realise that might have been our coping mechanism…

It’s the dystopian future of 2021, people are surrounded by technology and there’s a deadly virus infecting the world’s population. No, we’re talking about the movie. Keanu Reeves stars as the titular character who’s an information courier, delivering data to people via an implant in his brain, and getting it has cost him a big chunk of childhood memories to make space for it. Now, he wants out of the courier game and he wants the implant out of his head. The thing is, the price for removal just went up and so his agent Ralfi (Udo Kier) persuades him to take one last big job to earn enough to cover the cost. Unfortunately, he ends up with some very important data that a lot of bad people are after and they’re willing to do anything to get it out of his head…

Johnny Mnemonic opens with a load of text for you to read, which is something you don’t get any more outside of Star Wars and probably with good reason. That sets your expectations pretty low and it’s all downhill from there. The dialogue is pretty terrible, the characters are one-dimensional, the special effects are bad, even by Nineties standards, the soundtrack appears to be from the previous decade and not in a good way, the pacing is awful and watching this film makes you feel like people didn’t actually know how to act back then. The concept of the film isn’t that complicated and yet it feels like a complete mess. Also, it’s only 96 minutes long and yet, at the halfway mark, it felt like we’d been watching for hours.

So, we can’t say that Johnny Mnemonic is a good film, not by a long shot. But it is an entertaining one, even if it’s for all the wrong reasons. Everything bad about it makes it hilarious and then you’ve got characters with names like Spider, there’s a murderous mercenary preacher who looks like Jesus (played by Dolph Lundgren!), and there’s also a, um, cyborg dolphin… This is a film to watch with your friends, preferably drunk, and while you may not enjoy the movie, you will at least enjoy the experience of watching it.

Johnny Mnemonic is out now on digital platforms from Vertigo Releasing.