In the spirit of science fiction, 1995, “Bill & Ted,” and “Safe House” I developed a hankering for Keanu Reeves’ “Johnny Mnemonic” and Denzel Washington’s “Virtuosity.” I ended up being able to pick up both for under four dollars at the local Hastings—quite a bargain!
“Johnny Mnemonic” is a cyberpunk film set in 2021 in a world where corporations rule the world. Keanu Reeves plays a smuggler by the name of Johnny Mnemonic who uses a brain implant to smuggle information back and forth between the highest bidders. In his last job he overloads his implant, gets caught up in a resistance movement, is hunted by a cyborg preacher, and eventually cures the human race of a fatale disease dubbed, “The Black Shakes.”
The film is in complete cyberpunk territory and poses some interesting questions considering that at the time of the film’s creation the true dawn of the information age and personal computer was just beginning to sweep through society. Keanu’s acting is well…Keanu ‘acting,’ but personally I don’t expect much from him and there are times when I just want to see a Keanu Reeves film. Ice-T plays a great resistance leader and Dolph Lundgren’s character is all but useless in this movie. There is already a great villain (a Yakuza member with an electric whip!), so why include a cheesy “Street Preacher” played by Lundgren?
Definitely check this out for a slice of guilty pleasure; it’s worth the hour-and-a-half.
“Virtuosity” with Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe (1995)
“Virtuosity” is another throwback to ’95 and also pertains to the emergence of personal computers and virtual reality. Denzel Washington plays a cop (Parker Barnes) turned convict due to his act of vengeance on the political terrorist who murdered his wife and daughter. As a convict he is enrolled in a program that places him in a virtual reality where he must hunt a computerized serial killer who is an amalgamation of almost every infamous killer imaginable—even the one that murdered his family!
As the plot unfolds the computerized serial killer, Sid 6.7, escapes the program via nano-machines and begins to terrorize L.A. Denzel Washington’s character is pardoned from prison one condition: he must stop Sid.
This movie is a great techno-thriller and throws in some nifty science to flesh out the story. Russell Crow plays Sid 6.7 masterfully. He is creepy, sadistic, and is incredibly believable as a serial killer. Crowe’s performance in “Virtuosity” is by far the standout of the film.