Johnny Mnemonic [1995]

You might be tempted to call it "Johnny Moronic" after you've seen this illogical and derivative adaptation of William Gibson's cyberpunk short story (available in his book Burning Chrome), which is all the more depressing since Gibson himself wrote the screenplay. First you have to ask yourself why valuable top-secret electronic data would be stored in the "wet-wired" brain of a human courier (played by Keanu Reeves), who then transports the data from China to New Jersey as part of his last, most dangerous assignment. Surely there are better ways to transmit sensitive information, but since this is really just a conventional thriller with near-future design and spiffy special effects, Gibson and New York artist Robert Longo (making his directorial debut) are more interested in surface gloss and cyberpunk atmosphere. On that level the movie's fairly engaging, and Japanese film star Takeshi Kitano makes a pretty good villain, tracking Reeves down for the information in his data-packed brain. The movie also boasts an eclectic gallery of supporting players including rapper Ice-T, performance artist and rocker Henry Rollins, beefcake actor Dolph Lundgren, and transcontinental oddball Udo Kier. They can't stop this trip through virtual reality from being botched up, but sci-fi fans will certainly enjoy the echo of Gibson's fiction that remains on the screen. --Jeff Shannon

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