Johnny Mnemonic ★★

For a story pitched from the jump as crude v. technical, director Robert Longo's execution comes down hard on the side of crudeness, and it doesn't feel intentional. Flat, eye-level camera placements suck all the tension from the room–like if Howard Hawks didn't know what he was doing–then over-correct with laughably canted alleyway night scenes. Longo, an obscenely popular visual artist in the 1980s and a talentless hack no matter the medium, doesn't communicate one iota of the precision or depth of Gibson's short story, so it falls to Keanu to keep Mnemonic from being a total failure.

Keanu hams it up while taking everything completely seriously like only he can do, but he can't save this mess, and neither can Dolph Lundgren as a killer Jesus, and that's saying something. An entire course in direction could be taught using just the example of this vs New Rose Hotel. Longo's stupid visual signature, a man in a suit tumbling backwards–shamelessly taken from Fassbinder's end to The American Soldier–is deployed here like some throwaway MTV interstitial, the polar opposite of the way Abel Ferrara masterfully wraps his weird personal style, themes, and motifs into alien Gibson's strange New Rose Hotel future.