Phil’s choice for Thursday night was a movie we saw on holiday in France in 2007, we took the DVD and a laptop and at the time thought it was pretty good. Johnny Mnemonic,(1995) was directed by Robert Longo and starred Keanu Reeves.
Based on a short story by William Gibson, Reeves plays a mnemonic- a person who’s brain has a cybernetic implant fitted into it allowing him to discreetly carry information too sensitive to transfer across the Net. The movie is set in a dystopian world, where virtual reality is widespread and lots of people are suffering from a degenerative effect of that called NAS – nerve attenuation syndrome. Johnny has had to give up a chunk of his childhood memories to have the implant done, and now wants to have it removed and his memory restored, but the guy who procures the courier jobs for him wants him to do one more job first after which Johnny will be able to do the procedure. So Johnny goes to Beijing, gets overloaded with data and hunted by the Yakuza, who enforce the data protection of the company whose data he’s been given. The movie then follows Johnny as he tries to excape the Yakuza, and get the information out of his head.
Well folks, I have to say this hasn’t aged well, supposedly set in the 21st century the tech they imagined for the future is hokey to say the least, and I outright laughed at the roboticised dolphin. Dolph Lundgrun plays a rather violent mad baddie, Gina Meyer plays Jane, who kicks ass and helps Johnny, but suffers from the NAS too. Everyone overacts, apart from Ice-T who plays the head of the resistance, he’s cool.
Longo and Gibson wanted to do an art film on a small budget, but couldn’t get funding until Sony stepped in and threw millions at it, but changed things up.
William Gibson, in interview with The Peak magazine, 19 October 1998 ~ “Basically what happened was it was taken away and re-cut by the American distributor in the last month of its pre-release life, and it went from being a very funny, very alternative piece of work to being something that had been very unsuccessfully chopped and cut into something more mainstream“.
It bombed of course, 14% on Rotten Tomatoes, Reeves picked up a Golden Raspberry award nomination for worst actor. Can’t say I’m surprised.
On to the Saturday night movie. Last week we did Snowpiercer which I’d read good things about and ended up being a bit meh about it. This week I stayed with the Train theme as I saw a heads up on Keith’s blog about a new movie – a sequel to Train to Busan, Peninsula, which looked amazing, so thought I’d best get this one done first. I also read that Train to Busan was just Snowpiercer but with Zombies, so I’m here to tell you that’s a load of bull. Busan is heaps better.
Train to Busan (2016) is a South Korean action horror movie directed by Yeon Sang-Ho and stars Gong Yoo as Seok-woo, a hedge fund manager and workaholic who neglects spending time with his little girl, Su-an, played by the adorable Kim Su-an. To make up for it he promises to take her to Busan to see her mother, from whom he is divorced, for Su-an’s birthday. The first 15 minutes sets up these two characters nicely, and then once we get on the train, a zombie outbreak starts up in the country. One of the bitten people jumps on the train just as it leaves the station, and once she turns and starts biting people, the start of the zombie infestation of the train escalates rapidly. Other characters of note are Sang-hwa, a tough, working-class man and his pregnant wife Seong-kyeong, Yong-guk, a young baseball player who is going to Busan to a baseball game and Jin-hee, Yong-guk’s close friend, and cheerleader who has a crush on him. Choi Gwi-hwa plays a homeless man suffering from PTSD after a zombie attack. The social disparity comes across in the character of Yon-suk, a rich CEO of Stallion Express, an arrogant man who kills other people for his own wellbeing.
The movie follows the trials of the characters in escaping the zombies, and no spoilers but only to say it’s a roller-coaster of little quiet character bits and rip rolling action. The zombies remind me a lot of those in the Brad Pitt movie, WWZ, but the Korean actors being the zombies put their heart and soul into their action scenes, we were OMGing everytime they showed up en masse. The acting throughout was great, there were people to care about and people you wanted to get bitten, and not all the characters had a happy ending, so it’s full of feels along the way.
Most of the critics I read were favourable towards the movie, and made a shed load of money at the box office. The only negative comment I saw was the one re- Snowpiercer and I reckon he was just a hackneyed knob.