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.

Comments (28)
  1. I am so excited to hear about The Wicker Man. I want to see that movie just because it looks so ridiculous I feel like I have to.

  2. AV Club  |   Posted on Jul 21st, 2008 0

    How about Lost In Space?

  3. indieguy322  |   Posted on Jul 21st, 2008 0

    omg I remember I wanted to see this movie so bad when I was a kid, but my parents wouldn’t let me, because of the rating. maybe they just knew how much it sucked. Also, do Man of the Year, it was shockingly horrible. Or the new Planet of the Apes.

  4. Elena  |   Posted on Jul 21st, 2008 +1

    I once went to a theatre camp where a few of the instructors always joked about how Keanu Reeves was a really horrible actor, but I hadn’t developed taste yet so I didn’t get it.

  5. That is pretty cool how they predicted visual voicemail.

  6. star wars episode 1

  7. I liked the new Planet of the Apes. It’s more like fan-fiction than a remake.

    Jetblak22, I have your avatar on a t-shirt.

  8. kat  |   Posted on Jul 22nd, 2008 0

    Try Firewall or Poltergeist 3 or Jaws: the revenge

  9. Thom  |   Posted on Jul 22nd, 2008 0

    I honestly think that Dracula 2000, directed by Wes Craven, may be the worst film I have ever seen. It is a complete train wreck of a movie. It was excruciatingly painful and I would not wish it upon anyone.

    Can it be that nobody has mentioned either The Ninth Gate or Freejack yet? Both are also worthy candidates. Still, though. Dracula 2000. Blows them out of the water.

  10. Thom  |   Posted on Jul 22nd, 2008 0

    Okay, apparently my brain is not functioning properly. I looked it up to confirm, and Wes Craven did not actually direct, he only “presented”/executive produced it. Still, though. His name is on it, he’s culpable. The blood is on his hands.

    Again, not quite worst of all time-worthy, but still pretty bad: Has anybody mentioned The Life of David Gale? That may be the exact point at which Kevin Spacey finally exhausted the good will he had built up during the mid- to late-nineties. So much worse than both K-PAX and Pay it Forward. Combined.

  11. please tell me that is what life will look like 13 years from now.

  12. wait… did you make that last picture or is it seriously a part of the movie?

  13. Alistair  |   Posted on Jul 24th, 2008 0

    Check you Bad Boy (2002)

    You know how a lot of male actors like to explore the different nuances of their character through their roles, expose their flaws and admit the effects brought by time’s passage? Well if you don’t, that’s ok, because none of that applies to this movie.


  14. You forgot to mention Gabe that Johnny Mnemonic was directed by Robert Longo, who was (and I assume still is) considered one of the most important artists of the postmodernism era. He has created sculptures, paintings, drawings, (his drawings are I believe in the permanent collection at MOMA) and even elaborately costumed plays. One of his signature themes is (perhaps unsurprisingly) Jesus, and Johnny Mnemoinc features a Jesus-themed (!) supervillain assassin character that Keanu battles in the climactic action sequence. I believe the film was his first and last effort at Hollywood filmmaking.

  15. Aaron  |   Posted on Jul 25th, 2008 0

    I would liek to nominate Feardotcom

  16. Antoine  |   Posted on Jul 26th, 2008 0

    I know nominating black movies are tricky. IMDB usually disses any movie with an all black cast. Or people get upset with the cast of rappers and comedians but hey thats hollywood’s fault.

    But my blackness cannot allow a worst movie list that does not include Deliver us From Eva.

    Now the only problem is does LL cool J or Gabrielle Union count as a big star? With that said just peep the plot: with wikipedia assistance

    An adaptation of the taming of the shrew, a group of husbands hire LL cool J to seduce their meddling sister-in Law Eva. Unfortunately for Ray, he falls in love with Eva at first sight, but she proves to have a tart tongue and suspicious nature. Adams patiently begins to bring her around to the idea of a romantic relationship, even as she toys with the idea of leaving the city. (which is the thrust of the movie. Get the sister in law to move from the city i’m not making this up )

    Eva and Ray fall hopelessly in love with each other, and Eva even temporarily abandons her shrewish ways. But Ray’s friends panic and attempt to break up the blossoming romance, claiming their wives never let them hear the end of the latest with Eva and Ray, and that Eva intends to stay in the city. Things get so complicated that the men finally hatch a daring plan: kidnap Adams, lie to Eva about his tragic death in an accident and cajole her into leaving the city. Eva believes them and arranges a tearful funeral for her “dead” boyfriend, but in the middle of the service Adams appears, having escaped his prison, and the whole truth comes out. An angry Eva dumps Adams, leaves the city and resolves to start a new life. But Adams hasn’t quite given up. He shows up at Eva’s job on a white horse and persuades her to forgive him. She agrees to marry him, split up the inheritance, and apologizes for her interference in her sisters’ relationships.

    A KIDNAPPING. A WHITE HORSE. A shakespeare adaptation? A PRISON ESCAPE. A FAKE FUNERAL. And inheritance money.

    this is gold Gabe. gold i tell you.

  17. Lethe  |   Posted on Oct 22nd, 2008 0

    I remember totally wanting to see “Johnny Mnemonic” when it first came out, back in ’95 when I was twelve. The trailer made it look so exciting. We never did end up seeing it, and the other day I noticed it was playing on cable, so my uncle and I started watching it. Ten minutes in, I gave him permission to change the channel. Corny script, bad acting, stupid story . . . okay, so maybe 1995 was before the days of portable USB data devices, but certainly they could have imagined that there would be some kind of storage device invented in the not-too-distant future that would be a little more secure and a lot less unwieldy than a human head?

    Oh well. The best thing about this movie is that it contributes the phrase “neural seepage” to your vocabulary. Perfect for those of us too young to have “senior moments” and too refined for “brain farts.”

  18. no!!! you can nominate any film you wish but not “Johnny Mnemonic”! i like it… now i feel upset((

  19. Seriously? I love this movie. It’s totally not the worst movie ever.

    Have you guys even seen “The Stupids” with Tom Arnold? THAT’S the worst movie ever.

  20. Theodore. Rex.

  21. a better/worse keaneu movie might be “chain reaction”.
    it conatins one of the most horrible exchanges of two lines of dialogue in a movie EVER (made even worse by the fact it takes place on one of the stupidest vehicles ever used for a chase scene in a movie EVER)

    and why not add “pay it forward” and “love actually” while we’re at it?

  22. Systemwalker  |   Posted on Mar 31st, 2009 0

    This is the near future speaking. I know you will all be doing something productive in the year I come from.

  23. cragnog  |   Posted on May 7th, 2009 0

    your funny as fuck with these reviews man i really enjoi them

  24. No movie with Takeshi Kitano could be one of the worst ever.

  25. Johnson H Fuckworth  |   Posted on Jun 5th, 2009 0

    yes mate this film is great.

    keanu: YOU CAN”T SHOOT ME

    japanese dude (am i wrong in remembering Beat Takashi is actually in this): NOT IN THE HEAD…

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