Future Net
20 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Before "The Matrix" trilogy, Keanu Reeves starred in this cyberpunk film about a "data carrier" who gets entangled in a half baked tale of techno-espionage. The film was based on a great short story by legendary author William Gibson (who coined the term cyberspace), but the film itself doesn't have the budget or talent necessary to make Gibson's dystopian future come to life.

Today the film is notable for several "virtual reality" sequences in which Keanu Reeves uses "cybernetic gloves" to navigate a futuristic version of "the internet". Sequences like this were found in many similar films at the time. For example, "Hackers", "Lawnmower Man", "Sneakers", "Tron", "Blade Runner" etc, all have scenes in which heroes use "interfaces" to "enter an image" or "program" and "find information". This was a big deal back in the days, but today you can find similar interactive sequences in everything from "Virtuosity" to "Minority Report".

Interestingly, the best of these scenes is still "Blade Runner", with its rather low tech approach. In Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner", Harrison Ford uses a computer to slowly navigate his way through a simple celluloid photograph. Compare this to the wild arm movements, jazzy special effects, needless classical music and loud camera work of Tom Cruise's "data scrub" in "Minority Report". But more importantly, watch how the images in Spielberg's "data scrub" sequences are two dimensional, and watch how the sequences in "Blade Runner" and "Johnny Mneumonic" all stress three dimensional space.

6/10 – The "virtual reality sequences" in this film were outsourced to another production team, which is why they are the only things, for historical purposes, worth watching here. They're pretty cool sequences, Keanu Reeves literally tearing through a futuristic version of the internet with dancing hands and electronic gloves. One scene can be watched on youtube by typing "Johnny Mnemonic Future Internet" in the search bar. Before modems and personal computers were commonplace, this is how artists perceived our cyber-future.

Worth one viewing.
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