Would You Take a Chance Casting This Actor in a Cyberspace Themed Film?

Posted by Michael Pinto on Feb 28, 2009 in Cinema |

Johnny MnemonicJohnny Mnemonic was THE nerd film event of 1995. Based on the short stories of William Gibson this mega budget flick was the talk of every geek. So why has this film been forgotten? Frankly it’s because Keanu Reeves was such a bad actor! Granted that this may be the partial fault of artist/director Robert Longo but in the scene above makes a William Shatner performance look subtle by comparison. So how were so many smart fanboys fooled? Well the marketing for the film was stellar — for example this trailer gives no hint of the uneven nature of the film:

So of course the irony of my rant is that even after this critical and financial disaster of a film it’s interesting that four years later that the Wachowski brothers would do such a great job with Keanu in the same exact genre. So what was their secret? Firstly The Matrix is a coming of age story at heart so Keanu’s awkward mannerisms seem to work in his favor. Next the directors did a good job of making him underplay his part and surrounding him with some great actors like Laurence Fishburne. Also while the Matrix was what you’d call a special effects film it was also a great action film, so the dialog was pretty limited which also made Reeves less distracting. For example when you look at a scene like this you have Laurence Fishburne playing Yoda to Keanu’s Luke Skywalker:

Henry Rollins in Johnny MnemonicBy the way it should be noted that the only performer who did a great job in the Johnny Mnemonic flick was none other than Henry Rollins who seemed at home in the role of Spider. Yet what’s funny is that while Henry didn’t get much acting work after this Ice-T who was also in the film seems to have taken Hollywood by storm at this point (you can tell because he’s avoided any sort of degrading reality TV show roles). And as for the director Robert Longo the film was his first and last Hollywood epic — although that said he’s a brilliant fine artist.

Study For Johnny Mnemonic - Johnny in Download Helmet, Robert Longo 1993

Study For Johnny Mnemonic – Johnny in Download Helmet, Robert Longo 1993

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