Johnny Mnemonic (film): Wikis


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Johnny Mnemonic

Film poster for Johnny Mnemonic
Directed by Robert Longo
Produced by Staffan Ahrenberg
Don Carmody
Victoria Hamburg
Robert Lantos
Written by William Gibson (short story and screenplay)[1]
Starring Keanu Reeves
Dolph Lundgren
Beat Takeshi
Dina Meyer
Henry Rollins
Udo Kier
Von Flores
Music by Brad Fiedel (international version)
Mychael Danna (Japanese version)
Cinematography François Protat
Editing by Ronald Sanders
Distributed by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Release date(s) May 26, 1995
Running time 96 mins (USA)
107 mins (Japan)
Country Canada
United States
Language English
Budget $26 million
Gross revenue $19,075,720

Johnny Mnemonic is a 1995 cyberpunk film, loosely based on the short story "Johnny Mnemonic" by William Gibson. The title character, a man with a cybernetic brain implant designed to store information, is played by Keanu Reeves. The film portrays Gibson's dystopian view of the future with the world dominated by megacorporations and with strong East Asian influences.

The film was directed by Robert Longo on location in Canada, with Toronto and Montreal filling in for the film's Newark, New Jersey and Beijing settings. A number of local monuments, including Toronto's Union Station and Montreal's skyline and Jacques Cartier Bridge, feature prominently.

The film is notable for the presence of Takeshi Kitano, whose role in the Japanese version of the film was greatly expanded.[2][3]



In the year 2021, Johnny is a data trafficker who has an implant that allows him to securely store data too sensitive for regular computer networks. His brain can carry nearly 80 gigabytes worth of data, or 160 gigabytes if he uses a doubler. Johnny uses this implant to act as a courier between contracting parties. On one delivery run, he accepts a package that not only exceeds the implant's safety limits (and will thus kill him if the data isn't removed in time), but also proves to contain information far more important and valuable than he had ever imagined. He has to remove the data and avoid being killed by assassins sent after him by the company who owns the data.



Differences from the source material

The story in the movie significantly deviates from the short story, most notably turning Johnny, not girlfriend Molly, into the primary action figure. In fact, the movie transforms this girlfriend from Molly into "Jane", as the film rights to Molly were owned by a company unaffiliated with the film's producers.[4]

Nerve Attenuation Syndrome (NAS) is a fictional disease in the film, which is not present in the short story. NAS, also called "the black shakes", is caused by an overexposure to electromagnetic radiation from omnipresent technological devices, and is presented as a raging epidemic affecting the world in the future. The plot of the film revolves around the one pharmaceutical corporation that has found a cure but chooses to withhold it from the public in favor of a more lucrative treatment program.

The character Chrome also makes an appearance as an AI who confers with the owner of a large zaibatsu, one of the story's antagonists. She/it is a conscience figure, unlike her original security challenge-response program nature in Gibson's short story.

Basically what happened was it was taken away and re-cut by the American distributor in the last month of its prerelease life, and it went from being a very funny, very alternative piece of work to being something that had been very unsuccessfully chopped and cut into something more mainstream.

—William Gibson, in interview with The Peak magazine, 19th October, 1998[5]

Japanese release

The film was released in Japan first, in a version closer to the director's vision.

The soundtrack (re-composed by Brad Fiedel for the international version) is completely different and composed by Mychael Danna. It also contains tracks from independent industrial band Black Rain who had initially recorded a score (later released as their album '1.0') for Robert Longo that had been rejected.

Extended scenes revolve around the character of Takahashi, as the actor portraying this character, Takeshi Kitano, is a popular actor in Japan.

The opening text is different, in that there is no "laser" effect added to the text. It is plain, white scrolling text. The scene near the beginning with the protesters is longer, with extensive crane shots and the voice of a news anchor in the background. There is a scene added in the Beijing Hotel where Johnny obtains the "memory doubler" from a dealer who informs him that he was unable to get an upgrade as advanced as was originally agreed upon. In the scene in the men's restroom at the club where Ralphie (Udo Kier) yells at his bodyguard for hitting Johnny on the head, the bodyguard states that it had been a long time since she was in this room, alluding to the fact that the character in the short story had a sex change operation. Jane refers to her grenade as a "bottle opener" on two different occasions instead of the US dialogue that refers to it simply as a grenade.

There is a scene with Takahashi sitting in what appears to be his late daughter's room, filled with plush toys. He is watching a 3D, projected hologram of his daughter playing in the room before his secretary interrupts him. There is also a scene where he is watching a videotape of his daughter while taking pills from a small container in his pocket. There is also a scene in which Takahashi kills two of Shinji's henchmen to punish Shinji for bringing them under his command without permission.

The Street Preacher (also known as Karl Honig and played by Dolph Lundgren) character has an added scene where he is addressing his followers where he claims to have been "stricken by the sickness that devours the silver pathways of the soul," and has been healed by the Lord making him "posthuman." He then notices Takahashi's henchmen arriving with a cryogenic container (for Johnny's head) and tells his followers that he must now leave to meditate. Throughout the movie, his character has a few extra lines that are shouted out during action scenes.

There are minor additions (usually less than a second or two in length) through the movie. The scenes where the troops storm the bridge near have been edited resulting in a slightly different order of events. The final "hack your own brain" sequence has also been similarly edited with the inclusion of altered dialogue.[3]


Critical response was negative overall.[6] The film was a financial failure, grossing only $19,075,720 in the domestic markets against its $26m budget. It was released on May 26, 1995 to 2,030 theaters, grossing $6,033,850 in the opening weekend.[7]

In other media

In 1995, Johnny Mnemonic was the title of a DOS, Macintosh and Windows 3.X computer game that offered an innovative interface, 90 minutes of full motion video storytelling and puzzles. It was developed by CineACTIVE and published by Sony.[8]

A pinball machine based on the film designed by George Gomez was released in August 1995 by Williams. 2,129 machines were produced.


  1. ^ "Johnny Mnemonic". KillerMovies. 
  2. ^ Johnny Mnemonic Japanese release 1995, 103 minutes, Color, English/Japanese.
  3. ^ a b "YouTube Video Detailing Japanese Scenes from Johnny Mnemonic". 26 Aug 2008
  4. ^ "Overview". AMG. 
  5. ^ "Arts: Cyberpunk on screen - William Gibson speaks". The Peak. 19 Oct 1998. 
  6. ^ "Johnny Mnemonic Reviews". KillerMovies. 
  7. ^ Movies-Johnny Mnemonic
  8. ^ Moby Games-Johnny Mnemonic "The interactive movie concept was taken a stage further by this game, which completely dispenses with a visible interface. All you will see and experience is the storyline and its realisation, taking in 2500 scenes inspired by William Gibson's short story."

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