Johnny Mnemonic: ‘21 st century turkey’



A screenplay by ground-breaking cyberpunk author William Gibson from his own short story should be something to savour. Well, prepare to switch to disappointed mode, because Johnny Mnemonic is a 21st century turkey. Blame could be laid at the door of first-time director Robert Longo for confusing a relatively simple story and throwing minor characters in and out of the fray without any sense of development. But Gibson has to take a smack on the wrists for dull, fill-the- gap dialogue that isn’t even corny enough to raise a laugh.

Johnny (Keanu Reeves) is a futuristic courier who’s hired to store some stolen computer data in a brain implant. A powerful pharmaceutical corporation wants it back, even it their Yakuza hitmen have to bring them Johnny’s head on a plate. literally. What makes it worse for our boy is that the amount of information exceeds his storage capacity, so if he

doesn’t download within a few hours, his brain will become a burnt-out circuit-board. With the help of a bunch of underground resistance crusties led by J-Bone (Ice-T), Johnny discovers that his cargo is the cure for a widespread technophobic disease that’s sweeping the world. A dilemma: the good of the individual or the good of the planet?

Reeves is as wooden as ever and second-billed Dolph Lundgren hams it up as a preacher assassin who isn’t necessary to the plot; in fact, only post-punk singer Henry Rollins, as a good-guy scientist, has any acting credibility. The idea that a powerful corporation is withholding a vital cure, preferring to make money by short- term treatments, works on an AIDS conspiracy level, but the rest of the movie is so amateuristh thrown together that the only hi-tech gadget the audience needs is an off-switch. (Alan Morrison)

Johnny Mnemonic (15) (Robert Longo, US, 1995) Keanu Reeves, Dolph Lundgren, Takeshi, Dina Meyer. 95 mins. From Fri 9. General release.



Spike Lee‘s tendency to lay on the cinematic fireworks has earned him regular comparisons with Martin Scorsese; now (Yorkers brings the two atrtetrrs together. with Scorsese - who had contemplated directing - in the role of producer. The result is a filtn without rhetorical clarity: celluloid gorged on show y carrierawork and Scor'sese—esque saturated colours. Previously. if Lee has often been acctrsed of using his director‘s chair as a soapbox. he has at least been confrontationer: in comparison (Yorkers shows only political blandnes‘s.

The film is based on a best-selling noyel by Richard Price about menopausal cops and small-time drug

dealers known as ‘clockers' (because of

the time they clock up on the street ). Ilaryey Keitel plays Rocco Klein. a hardened policeman with a dislike of


black dealers that is both racist and realistic. Lee more or less ignores the cop's point of View and puts young clocker Strike (Mekhi Phifer) centre-

Phifet"s performance is asstrred. btrt the heayy symbolism attached to his character does its best to squash him. Strike is a lost kid (in out-sized dungarees) nurturing a dream ofescape (his rrrost treasured possession is a train set) living a life that is destroying him inside (he strffers from searing stomach pain throughout). So far. so metaphorical. Later. a small boy. dressed just like Strike. kills Strike‘s enemy. Political message" Big black boys are losers and little black boys copy them. ('lm'kers is stunning at times. btrt basically an incoherent whodutmit with half a mind to be something bigger. (Hannah l’ries)

(Yorkers ([8) (Spike Lee. (73'. /‘)‘)5) Harvey Ker/cl. .l/ek/Ii l’lti/i'r. .lolm 'Ii/rlurm. I28 mins. Fro/rt Fri 9. (it’ltr’l'u/ release. St't' failure.

Clockers: ‘stunning at times‘

loch Hess: ‘gung-ho monster-fest’


John Henderson’s gung-ho monster- fest Loch Ness is a strange attempt to combine the thrills and spills of your typical US action movie with the tittie- tattling gentility of Take The High Road.

In a desperate attempt to save his credibility, LA academic Jonathan Dempsey (Ted Danson) finds himself heading for ‘Loch Hess, Scotland’ on a mission to prove that ‘the wee beastie’ doesn’t exist. He doesn’t want to be there. Nobody else wants him to be there either. But, having bartered his way into a lochside inn that’s supposed to be closed for winter, be rather predictably charms the landlady (Joely Richardson) and befriends her little girl (Kirsty Graham), whose endearing performance is, perhaps, the best thing about the film.

There’s nothing special about loch

Hess. It’s just what you’d expect, really a bizarre mix of Arran

. sweaters, wavering accents,

hilariously over-dramatic underwater sequences and blatantly generalised comparisons between America and Scotland. The first hour is painfully slow, but just as you’re about to nod off, the film leaps into full-on Poseidon Adventure mode and has you positively hanging off the edge of your seat waiting for those infamous three humps to appear. Hot giving too much away, the Jim Henson Workshop is name-checked in the credits, but will it be Kermit lunging out of the water or an extra from Jurassic Park? If you’re desperate to see 1400 years of Scottish mystery solved by Ted Danson in just an hour and a half, don’t miss it. (Gill Harris)

Loch Ness (U) (John Henderson, US, 1995) Ted Danson, Joel y Richardson, Kirsfy Graham. 100 mins. From Fri 9. General release.



Bed Of Roses: ’goes nowhere’

The title. the ad campaign. the trailer. the star pairing -— each elenrerrt of this flaccid romantic drama seems geared to ltrre young loyers into the cinema around the Valentine's Day period. Perhaps they are the ideal audience after all: if they

stare into each other‘s

eyes and whisper sweet nothings itrto each other"s cars. they might miss the inconsistencies and utter pointlessrress of a story that goes nowhere and takes a long time doing it.

Christian Slater plays Lewis. a stockbroker- ttrrned-liorist. who enjoys delivering his creations in person simply to see the look of delight on the recipient’s lace. So keen is Ire on spreading happiness in this way that he occasionally delivers floral arrangements trnprompted. just so Ire might brighten the day of some poor sottl who's down on their luck.

This is how Ire meets l.isa (Mary Stuart Masterson). a tough-nut 90s btrsincsswoman who manages to close a deal despite hearing that her father has died ~ only to finally crack when she gets home and discovers that lter goldfish has snuffed it too. Out of these meagre beginnings blooms a relationship that seems too perfect to be true. although they find that their bed of roses has one or two hidden thorns.

The problems start early with this empty idea spun out into an 86-minute film. as the characters \t’L‘lll so far removed from reality that audiences will have a hard job identifying with them in any significant way. The best they can hope for is a yicarious pleasure at seeing Master‘sori and Slater getting it on. although on this showing they both remain lightweight talents in search of a decent script. They don't find it here. and anyone seeking a hipper. younger Sleep/tars //r Swill/e will be disappointed. (Anwar Brett)

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The List 9-22 Feb I996 27'