"You can't shoot me."
"Not in the head."
Johnny Mnemonic is a 1995 Cyberpunk film, loosely based on the short story of the same name by William Gibson, in which Keanu Reeves plays the title character, a man with a cybernetic brain implant designed to store information. The original short story is set in the "Sprawl" universe, where his best known novel Neuromancer also takes place.
Johnny (Reeves) 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. Johnny must deliver the data before it kills him, but the company sends assassins out after him to protect said data.
- Action Girl:
- Jane, though her counterpart Molly Millions in the short story is far more Badass. Molly is a cybernetically enhanced razorgirl, while Jane suffers from a neurodegenerative disease. Johnny is also much tougher in the film than in the original story, requiring less protection from Jane.
- There’s also a female Yakuza soldier who goes ballistic with a rocket launcher during the assault on Heaven.
- The lone female in the group of PharmaKom defectors that gets the data to Johnny is the only one (apart from Johnny) to put up any kind of a fight when Shinji and his mooks arrive to gun them all down.
- Adaptation Expansion: The film expands on the short story and even borrows from Gibson's other stories set in The Sprawl.
- Air Vent Passageway: Jane uses one after Ralfi and his bodyguards carry an unconscious Johnny to a backroom at a nightclub. The vent is so wide and spacious that Jane only needs to crouch down to fit through and can still walk on two feet when moving through it.
- Always Night
- Artistic License Computer Science: Too many examples to list. Both Gibson and the screenwriters knew far less about computers than their target audience did -- and it shows. (Compressed data inevitably explodes? Seriously?)
- Badass Preacher: A cyborg assassin who dresses like a Benedictine monk for some reason. This character is taken all-too-literally from a brief mention in Neuromancer, when Molly describes the assassin who finally caught up with Johnny as being "like a monk," referring to his zen confidence.
- Blade Below the Shoulder: Notable for its absence; In the story, Molly prominently displays her retractable finger-razors, which make her a "razorgirl" and earn her the nickname "Steppin Razor."
- Bond One-Liner: After Johnny, hiding behind a bathroom door, gets the jump on one Yakuza thug, he quips, "Next time knock, Baldy!"
- Bond Villain Stupidity: After Johnny regains consciousness from a Tap on the Head and finds himself strapped to a table in the back of Ralfi's club, Shinji explains the orders he has been given to cut off Johnny's head and freeze it, which he could have reasonably done at any time a mere moments prior, while Johnny was still unconscious--instead of waiting for Johnny to wake up and explaining the situation he is in. Jane decides to intervene before Shinji can carry out his orders.
- Car Fu:
- The Lo Teks like to set Volkwagens on fire and drop them on attackers.
- The Street Preacher is intentionally run over by Spider's van at one point, but he shrugs this off.
- Chickification: Happened to Molly/Jane in between the short story and the movie.
- Church Militant: The Street Preacher.
- Clean Cut: Performed by the molecuwire whip.
- Code Emergency: Dr. Allcome.
- Cyberpunk Is Techno: Featured in the film. The short story prominently features a fight set on an arena that produces techno beats based on the movements of the combatants.
- Deadpan Snarker: Several of Johnny's lines are certainly written with this in mind.
Jane: Man owes me fifty thou and he’s scamming my phone card!
Johnny: It's still our first date.
- Johnny's response to a roomful of men in a hotel room pointing guns at him is to hold his briefcase up on its side at shoulder level and ask the room, "Double cheese, anchovies?"
- "What did they upload, Ralfi? The goddamned Library of Congress?"
- "If I wanted the silicon dug out of my back brain, I would have gone to Mexico City!"
- Divided States of America: Johnny arrives from Beijing at "The Free City of Newark."
- Do Not Adjust Your Set: The LoTeks override television signals from around the world and send out their own transmissions.
- Dueling Hackers
- Dull Surprise: Well, it is a Keanu Reeves movie.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Baldy.
- Everything Sensor: An x-ray scanner seemingly intended just to check for signs of contraband and illegal bio-mechanical upgrades and implants at a customs/border security station also does a thorough CAT-scan of a person's body and espouses medical advice when it notices any health risks (such as "synaptic seepage" from a brain implant).
- Expy: Jane was created to replace the female lead from the original story, Molly Millions, because another film studio owned the rights to use that character in a movie.
- Finger-Twitching Revival: Subverted.
- Future Music: The nightclub features an opera singer singing over a techno/metal rhythm.
- Gadget Watch: Johnny detonates a small bomb by pressing a button on his wristwatch.
- Goggles Do Nothing: J-Bone has a pair of goggles covering his forehead at all times.
- Heroic Dolphin: Jones is a dolphin with cybernetic implants who helps Johnny retrieve the data from his head.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Spider risks his life (and loses it) in a scuffle with the Street Preacher to allow Johnny and Jane time to escape, likely to set an example for Johnny the Jerkass about what it means to be willing to sacrifice oneself for a greater good (it doesn't really help).
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Shinji has his head cut off by his own Razor Floss whip. And then a shipping crate on fire falls on top of his headless corpse, just in case there are any doubts as to whether or not he's actually dead.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: Johnny's entire focus throughout the entire movie is to see that his neural implant is removed and his childhood memories are recovered. He also just wants a club sandwich and a hooker, but that's another story. Regardless, he's never all too happy about having the fate of the entire world on his shoulders, and, frankly, doesn't care all that much.
- IKEA Weaponry: Johnny strips down his captured carbine to a more convenient pistol size.
- Impaled Palms: Part of the Street Preacher's crucifixion motif, as seen when killing Spider and attempting to kill Jane.
- Information Wants to Be Free: The information Johnny is hired to deliver turns out to be the cure for a global disease, while a Mega Corp seeks to steal his head so it won't be given to the public. On the flip side, the underground resistance wants to share the information for free.
- Informed Ability: Jane is supposedly wired to the gills with cybernetic enhancements, but we never see her do anything superhuman, let alone extraordinary. Most Egregious of all, when the two bumbling Lo-Teks drop a car on top of Johnny and Jane, Jane--who is supposed to have faster reflexes--never even seemed to notice this and had to rely on Johnny to quickly realize what was happening with enough time to allow him to push her out of the way of the falling car.
- Justified by it being explained that despite all her augments, the Black Shakes have made jello out of a good portion of her nervous system. She can't even hold her hand still for more than a second or two.
- Inside a Computer System
- Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Performed by the Street Preacher on the bartender from the Cyberpunk club to get some information. It works.
- Japan Takes Over the World: The Yakuza is "the most powerful of all crime syndicates."
- Jerkass: Johnny always thinks only of himself and his own interests. In the events that follow Jane rescuing him from Ralfi and Shinji at the nightclub, Johnny returns the favor by scamming her "phone card" and even leaving her for dead in a pile of trash when she gets a seizure from her NAS condition. Johnny only takes her back after she insists that someone she knows can help him. He initially refuses every proposal to retrieve the data from his head, because there is always a risk that he may suffer permanent brain damage, despite the fact that he (and the rest of the world) would meet a worse fate if he leaves the data in his head, anyway. Even after discovering the data is a supercure that can help half of the world's population, he goes on an infamous rant whining about how he'd rather have a $10,000 hooker than save the lives of millions.
- Karmic Death: The Street Preacher, who tended to put all his victims in a crucifixion pose, dies in this pose.
- La Résistance: LoTeks, "A resistance movement risen from the streets: Hackers, data-pirates, guerrilla-fighters in the info-wars."
- Large Ham: 'I want ROOM SERVICE!!!'
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: When Johnny had his brain implant installed, only the memories of his childhood were removed.
- Living MacGuffin: Dr. Allcome and, after that one served its full purpose, Jones.
- Loads and Loads of Characters
- MacGuffin: The data in Johnny's head.
- Made of Iron: The Street Preacher. A scan of his body indicates that much of his body has been replaced with bio mechanical parts and upgrades. J-Bone claims that the Preacher "doesn't have one natural bone left in his body." With his upgrades, the Street Preacher can get up and walk away from being hit by a van at high speed.
- Mega Corp: PharmaKom
- Mr. Exposition: J-Bone fills this role when observing Johnny "hack his own brain" from a private monitor and throws out nuggets of exposition to the audience so they can keep track with what's going on ("He's doubling himself", et. al.).
- Mr. Smith: Johnny's obvious pseudo-surname when at the Beijing Hotel and on his passport on his flight to Newark. Johnny even throws his passport in the trash once he arrives in Newark so as to make it absolutely clear that Mr. Smith is not his real name.
- My Skull Runneth Over: Johnny has put too much information into his head chip.
- Neural Implanting
- Neuro Vault
- Noodle Incident: Multiple instances. "The war" that Jane tells us Jones fought in, whatever the reason Strike owes Johnny a favor for, the past mistake that Shinji had to atone for before he got his molecuwire whip, and so forth...
- Not Quite Dead: Subverted. For a moment, it appears that the cybernetic street preacher is picking himself up after seemingly being burned to death (accompanied with a note on the music score spelling absolute dread), only for a wider shot to reveal that a group of LoTeks are lifting the carcass off the ground with a pulley and disposing of it.
- Off with His Head: An assassin is told to return with Johnny's head, as it contains a neural implant with important information on it.
- One Last Job: Johnny wants to leave his line of work and restore his lost childhood memories. He agrees to do "one more run" for Ralfi in order to get enough money to afford an expensive "procedure" to restore those memories. However, the need for that money for that procedure is never brought up in the movie again, and he inexplicably ends up requiring neither money nor the procedure to get what he seeks.
- One-Scene Wonder: The Street Preacher. Henry Rollins also out-acts most of the ostensible stars.
- Opening Scroll: A pretty incomprehensible one at that, too.
- Phlebotinum Dependence: Paralon-B, one of the few publicly available treatments for NAS, is only available from PharmaKom at "Two grand per clinical unit."
- The extended Japanese cut of the movie reveals Jones, the dolphin, to be addicted to an unnamed drug. J-Bone explains that the Navy got him hooked on the stuff so he could work for them, and he continues to give Jones this drug so that he thinks he's still swimming.
- Pin-Pulling Teeth: Jane pulls the pin from her pink hand grenade with her teeth. In a minor subversion, she doesn't pull the pin itself, but rather the softer keychain attached to it.
- Post Final Boss: After the movie's most threatening antagonists (Shinji and the Street Preacher) are dealt with, Johnny still has to "hack his own brain" where he has to contend with a computer virus, which isn't anywhere near as dangerous (or as interesting) as the other enemies Johnny had to deal with.
- Posthumous Character: Takahashi's daughter.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Johhny's "I... want... roomservice!" rant.
- Razor Floss: The yakuza assassin's molecuwire whip.
- Redemption Equals Death: Alas, poor Takahashi.
- The Reveal: The data in Johnny's head is the cure for the global plague, and, the Electronic Ghost Woman is Johnny's mother.
- Sapient Cetaceans: Jones is revealed to be a genetically modified super-smart dolphin, originally created by the military for submarine warfare.
- Schizo-Tech: Descriptive of the LoTeks' relationship with technology, and emphasized in their creed in the short story.
J-Bone: If they expect high tech, go low. If they expect low, go high.
- Society Marches On: J-Bone explains the Lo-Teks' tactics as hijacking television signals from "their 500-channel universe," and generally suggests that television is the dominant brain-rotting, tool of oppression used by The Man. Apparently, William Gibson never accounted for the brain-rotting potential of the Internet.
- So Was X:
Johnny: They'll negotiate; they're corporate.
Jane: So is the Yakuza.
- Stealth Hi Bye: J-Bone vanishes while Johnny has his back turned, observing Heaven, along with the dead body of a Lo-Tek Red Shirt, which J-Bone (presumably?) must have carried with him.
- Super Reflexes: Jane, so we're told.
- Switch to English: Takahashi and Shinji begin a conversation in Japanese, before Takahashi chastises Shinji for speaking "terrible" Japanese and demands Shinji talk to him in English. Towards the end of their conversation, Takahashi switches to English, as well.
- Tap on the Head: Johnny gets cold-cocked, which causes concern about potential damage to his neural implant.
- Technology Marches On:
- In 1995, 320Gb was massive. By 2010... hard drives of 1 terabyte are under $100.
- J-Bone urges everyone to "get their VCR's ready" when the Lo-Teks are about to broadcast the cure to NAS.
- The lack of plasma and HDTV monitors anywhere really becomes apparent when television is supposed to be viewed as a prevalent characteristic in this world.
- Faxing is already pretty outdated by today's standards, and the lone fax machine seen in the movie takes something like three minutes to warm up before finally beginning to send a fax. Even 1995 fax machines didn't move that slowly. Given how easy it is for Johnny to track where the fax was going, he might as well have sent three .jpg files via E-mail.
- The brain can hold up to 2.5 petabyes if one was to make equivalent USB or hard drive, including solid-drive, thus foregoing long-term memoires to make room isn’t necessary to opt for it. However, the idea of wearing a computer, becoming part of it, or augmented reality itself isn’t that far-fetch with devices like Google Glass being a step into the world of 2021 that Johnny lives in.
- Toplessness From the Back: Jane, played by Dina Meyer, who never seems to shy from nudity.
- Transhuman: The cyborg street preacher. Details about this are explored more in the film's Japanese release (the "director's cut"), which includes an additional scene where this character preaches about God's plan for people to reject their organic bodies and embrace bio-mechanics and cybernetics, especially to save oneself from the NAS plague. In the American release, the most that's hinted about these views comes in a passing reference to the name of the church the which the preacher is aligned with--The Church of the Retransfiguration.
- Travelling At the Speed of Plot: For Shinji and his Mooks to take an elevator from the lobby of the hotel in Beijing to the floor where Johnny and his present clients are, it takes them the entire length of time for Johnny to prepare for uploading the data (starting with when Johnny opens his briefcase containing his equipment), receive the data, and make a printout of the download code (roughly two minutes and forty-two seconds, and that's just the elapsed time on-screen). It then takes them another minute and a half of of the movie's time length (enough time for Johnny's clients to destroy the original copy of the data they gave him and for Johnny himself to regain his composure in the bathroom) to walk from the elevator to their hotel room door.
- Unusual User Interface: Dedicated web surfing, for more than just phone calls, uses VR goggles and gloves that project a three-dimensional representation of the internet, manipulated by the users hands. They even grow claws when "attacking". Taken up a notch with the Lo-Tek's scavenged VR rig, which allows for a full mental projection of the user.
- Video Phone: The story opens with the main character making a call on a video phone that also doubles as a television and an alarm clock, all of which can be operated by remote control. Another such phone shows up in the back of a future taxi cab, and the Street Preacher has one hidden in his Bible (or whatever Holy Book equivalent he has). Video phone screens are also branded with AT&T's company logo, AT&T having tried to develop such technology since the 1960's.
- Virtual Ghost: Anna Kalmann, the founder of PharmaKom. Takahashi explicitly calls her "A Ghost in the Machine."
- We Will Use Wiki Words in the Future: The Evil Drug Company is called PharmaKom. It's an abbreviation of "Pharma" (Latin for "drug") and "Kominat" (Russian for "combine").
- What Happened to the Mouse?: One of Ralfi's bodyguards accompanies Shinji in chasing Johnny and Jane after they escape from Ralfi's club only to disappear from the story entirely after the chase ends.
- Withholding the Cure: It is revealed that PharmaKom is suppressing the cure for Nerve Attenuation Syndrome.
- Working for a Body Upgrade: The street preacher accepts contract killing offers in exchange for money so he can afford to replace his organic body parts with cybernetic ones.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: The techno-metal opera singer at the night club has blue hair.
- Your Mom:
Street Preacher: Who is "Jones"?
Spider: He's that guy... who fucks your mother!
- Yubitsume: When we first see Takahashi, he tells Shinji, "I see you turned your shame into an asset," implying that at some point Shinji had to cut off the tip of his thumb to atone for a past mistake before replacing it with his molecuwire whip.