The Hunt For The Worst Movie Of All Time: Johnny Mnemonic

While commenters AE and Sephtical were correct in suggesting that Johnny Mnemonic is a terrible film that should be shown to students at Garbage School as an example of How To Succeed, I can’t in good conscience consider this to be one the Worst Film of All Time, for one reason: it’s so fun to watch. I can’t believe that some vamp camp bullshit like Rocky Horror gets midnight screenings around the country in perpetuity while gems like this are just waiting for a costumed celebration. Whether it’s Keanu Reeves dressed like a late 1990s cocaine dealer from the future, or lines like “the only way is to hack your own brain,” this movie was made for getting super trashed on informationtinis at your friend’s apartment and throwing old Zip disks at the TV.

The movie is based on a short story by William Gibson, the famous sci fi writer who predicted the internet and most of our major information era developments. It’s about a courier who has implanted a thumb drive in his brain and transports dangerous data, which is a thing that exists, in his head, to people, or something. Oh, and the world is run by corporations, which is a normal vision of the future, who have hired the Yakuza to run security, which is not a normal vision of the future. (Remember when the United States was so scared of Japan taking over the world? I think that ended with the breakthrough film Gung-Ho, which tore down so many barriers between our two nations.) ANYHOW, Keanu Reeves puts 320 Gigabytes of information in his brain that can only hold 160 Gigabytes, so naturally (naturally?) it causes him a lot of pain and will result in his death if he doesn’t get the data out (get the data out?) within two to three days, but the corporations want the Yakuza to cut his head off with their fingernail laserbeams so that they can keep the data, because the data is actually the cure for NAS, which is like AIDS but for THE INTERNET. After being chased, Keanu Reeves finally ends up with the underground revolutionaries led by Ice T who help him to hack his own brain with the help of a weaponized dolphin.

Do you want to see my face throughout this whole movie?

Just to give you a taste of what we’re dealing with, this is how the movie opens.

Cramazing. How did they say LOL in the ’90s? Laughing at high volume? I can’t even remember that far. Did humans have electricity yet? They make plenty of bad movies these days, but you have to admit that they don’t make movies like this anymore. It can’t possibly be because we’re smarter, so I’m just going to go with the explanation that we’ve all put our hand on the bad movie stove enough times to not want to get burned anymore. Burned on our eyes.

The whole movie is just an hour and a half of hilariously misplaced ideas about what the future is going to look like. For example, in the future, we will use computers like this:

And in the future, this will be the smartest hacker:

That dolphin started SlashDot. Remember when people used to make jokes about hackers instead of making jokes about bloggers? This movie remembers too. It remembers so many times. It’s interesting how someone whose work was as visionary as Gibson’s could be so aggressively mis-handled, and by interesting I mean typical.

But I am really having a hard time with this week’s write up because I just want to share with you all the hilarious details. So, here is a list of some of my favorite lines:

  • “The courier is late. Be calm.”
  • “Destroy the originals! Fax the images to Newark!”
  • [A bad guy says “time to die” to Keanu] “Time?” [then Keanu blows up his watch or something.]
  • “I think I want to get out of this rat hole. I want to get online. I NEED a computer.”
  • “The only way is to hack your own brain.”

America sure loves to watch Keanu Reeves get jacked into mainframes and perform hand-to-hand combat with computer viruses. And it makes sense. He looks great.

I can’t believe I’m actually saying this, but you guys should see this movie. Don’t play games.

Next week: The Wicker Man (Neil LaBute remake). As always make your suggestions for TWMOAT in the comments or in an email. We’re currently fleshing out the nominees for Round Two. If you have not before, please consult the Official Rules.