I watched Johnny Mnemonic (there's also a short story the movie is based on, go read it) last night for the first time in a long time. The movie takes place in 2021, only 11 more years!
I think the most striking thing was that he was to carry around 320 Gigabytes of data in his head. The first time I saw that movie in 1995 or so, I remember thinking that 320GB was an insane amount of data. Today I type this on a computer with almost double that much storage capacity. I love it how movies that involve computer things age terribly. I suppose that's part of what makes them so fun to watch.
Uggg. This is a terrible "review". The movie stank on every level, from the horrible "special" effects to the utterly moronic plot, to the terrible acting. Nothing about this movie is good. Nothing.
But that's not the problem. Anyone can make a bad movie, after all. What's really the problem here is that it so utterly misses the point, entirely, of the original story. As is the case for all to many people, the writers got all excited about the "cyber" and utterly missed the "punk".
Punk music, in its most classic UK form, wraps up three important aspects. First is the reduction of the music itself to a bare minimum - just grind out the licks, three chords at most, and get it over with as quickly as possible. After all, point number two is the about the utter failure of modern society, so why write long songs about it? Number three is the utter disregard for everyone, mostly "the establishment" at a high level, but also the listener, and especially the artist themselves. It's not just the society failed, it's that I want it to fail, because I hate it.
The canonical example of punk in its pure form is "Anarchy in the UK" by the Sex Pistols. Johnny's sneering delivery barely drowns out the terrible mixing and sound quality as he stares through the audience and hollers about how everyone and everything is pointless - the UDA is nothing more than a housing board.
Soooo… Johnny Mnemonic. You see, the original story is punk in every essence. Johnny lives on the fringes of society, a high tech thief, sort of, with low-class customers. The story only exists because one of his customers screws up. So Johnny goes on the lam with a thrill-kill bodyguard and gets help from a bunch of techno-rejects living on sweating plywood held together with poorly mixed epoxy. They win, the end.
That's punk. In every way. From it's minimalist writing to its short timeline to its rejection of all of civilized society.
And then there's the movie. Forget everything these that sucked about it, and focus only on whether or not this movie was punk. Was it short? Simple? Did it exist on the fringe? No, no and no! Oh, there was cyber all right, but zero punk whatsoever.
Before Gibson sci-fi looked like westerns or perfect utopia worlds like in 2001. Then along came Star Wars in 1977 and suddenly sci-fi was gritty and real. And then in 1981 Omni publishes Johnny Mnemonic and any final connection with the past breaks apart.
I remember reading Johnny Mnemonic for the first time as a kid in high school. It, quite literally, made my brain start working in a different way.
So that's why this movie deserves to be spit on, not because it royally stank to heaven, but because it ruined everything without ruining everything.