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Reviewed November 5th, 2001 by Dan Jones


”I can carry nearly eighty gigs of data in my head...”

Johnny Mnemonic takes place during the year 2021; a time in which the world is suffering from an inexplicable epidemic, known as Nerve Attenuation Syndrome. A data courier known as Johnny is assigned to deliver highly sensitive information from Beijing to Newark. How does he carry this data? Inside Johnny’s brain, a “wet-wired” memory chip has been implanted that allows him to interface with computer systems, and which gives him a set storage capacity of 80 gigabytes of data he can carry; overloading this set capacity will, of course, kill him little time. This last job will require him to upgrade his memory to 160 gigabytes, but force him to carry 320. If Johnny does not drop this data within 24 hours his head will undoubtedly explode. Moreover, because this data is of great importance, people are trying to kill him and in-turn acquire this sensitive information from him. In addition, Johnny would rather not have this capability of storing data in his brain (and who would?), and would like to rid him self of this ability, and in the process recover his memories from before the implant. This cyberpunk story behind Johnny Mnemonic is taken from a William Gibson short story.

Johnny Mnemonic at first glance has a decent cast of characters; although the script does not really allow for anyone to be a real standout in anyway shape or form. Johnny is played by Keanu Reeves, and joined by Dina Meyer (Jane), rapper Ice-T (J-Bone), and Takeshi Kitano (Takahashi). We also see Dolph Lundgren and the rocker Henry Rollins.

To be quite honest, Johnny Mnemonic is one of those movies where you have to shut the logical side of your brain down to really get enjoyment out of it. The script is quite poor and full of clichés, which in turn drags the acting down with it. We get a relatively cool looking visuals and futuristic settings, along with a very interesting “light whip” (similar to a light saber, but a whip), but for this reviewer it is hard to find much depth and moreover, hard not to see how ludicrous some of the plot and writing is. But, this is not to say that one couldn’t walk away enjoying the movie; it’s an action movie, and like I said, if you can try to just take it as just that, a movie, you might enjoy it.

The goal behind this Superbit line is to basically take the current DVD technology to the greatest extent in terms of digital picture and sound, by increasing the bandwidth allowed to the video and audio; instead of dropping this bit rate to make room for ANY supplemental material or interactive menus. This Johnny Mnemonic Superbit DVD release of course follows these same rules.

This Superbit release comes with a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and really does not improve the image quality very much from the earlier release. This release also has Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 soundtracks and both do ok I suppose, but aren’t demo material by any means. In fact both soundtracks sounded the same to me. Also, like I said, they have dropped all extras on these Superbit releases as well.

If you are a Keanu Reeves or science fiction fan – you might want to try and find the earlier release. I just can’t seem to recommend picking this one up for any reason.


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