By Vic Medina | 12 seconds ago

Keanu Reeves

When you think of Keanu Reeves movies, a few modern classics spring to mind. The Matrix (not the new one), speed, point breakand John Wick are among his best, but Reeves has had a long career, and he has a handful of films that have managed to fly under the radar. One of them has become a cult classic and is about to be given a new life in black and white: 1995s Johnny mnemonics. The dystopian sci-fi action flick will be released on Blu-ray this August from Sony Pictures, this time with a black-and-white video presentation to better emphasize the film’s neo-noir setting.

Although Sony has not made any official announcement, Dawn of the discs spotted a listing at online retailer MovieZyng Warehouse indicating an August 16 release of the Keanu Reeves flick. According to the listing, the Blu-ray will contain a black and white version of the film and it doesn’t appear that the color theatrical version will be included. Bonus features are rare: just a featurette and a theatrical trailer. It includes a DTS 5.1 soundtrack.

Directed by Robert Longo, the film is his feature film directorial debut as his previous work has primarily consisted of making music videos for groups such as REM and Megadeth. Keanu Reeves plays Johnny, a black market courier who delivers data the only sure way: by funneling it straight into his brain. When a job goes awry, Johnny becomes the target of an international manhunt as assassins attempt to extract what’s stored in his head. Worse, his own personal memories have been removed to “fit” the new dates, so he must do the job to get his life back. The film also stars Dolph Lundgren (who does not appear until halfway through the film), Takeshi (Battle Royale), Ice-T (who probably doesn’t want to talk about his role here), Dina Meyer (who had a memorable role as Dizzy Flores in Starship Troopers two years later) and Henry Rollins.

With a reported budget of $26 million, the film flopped at the box office, though Reeves was still buzzing from the success of speed the year before. It grossed just $19 million at the box office and a dismal 18% on Rotten Tomatoes. The low score is well deserved regardless of the film’s appeal. Some of the attempts at being edgy don’t quite land, and some are downright ridiculous. When the film shifts the setting to the “free city of Newark” (complete with title card), I couldn’t help but laugh at how nondescript it sounded. The acting is often over the top, including Keanu Reeves, who goes from monotonous to overly dramatic in the blink of an eye.

Although the film was released in 1995, it has a distinct ’80s vibe, including depicting a dystopian future where the villains wear chain mail and sport big hair and lots of heavy makeup. Still, Keanu Reeves cut a memorable figure by wearing a black suit throughout the film, much like the “Agent Smith” he would fight on screen a few years later. Ironically, his character’s codename at work is Smith, which makes for involuntary laughter watching the film now. Despite the B-movie vibe, the film found a dedicated fan base over the years, and in 2021 Longo screened a black-and-white version of the film at the Tribeca Film Festival, saying it was closer to his original vision.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.