Coolth failure

Visiting my mother I had occasion to watch tv and it so happened that TV6 was running Johnny Mnemonic and I decided to watch. Commercial television, why hasn't it been outlawed yet? Commercial breaks chopping up the plot and I'm pretty sure they actually lost bits of the film, making it even more jarring. Even allowing for that, I was rather disappointed and even more so when I saw that William Gibson himself had written the screenplay, so no corporate script wrangler could be blamed for the results.

The main fault lies in the lack of cool. A major theme in Gibson's cyberpunk works is being cool, and Japanese vatgrown ninjas are the coolest of them all. The Yakuza are maximally inscrutable Orientals with infinite patience. In the original short story there is only one Yakuza assassin and that's because he's so utterly deadly on his own no more are needed—grenade launchers and assault guns are too crude and inelegant to be even contemplated. And Molly (in the film replaced by Jane with uncool shakes for copyright reasons!) shows her übercool by whipping the assassin's ass.

And that the data that Johnny is carrying happens to be the cure to all the world's woes? Please…

I briefly considered the point in having a person carry around data in their head, but to be sure, in many cases moving physical media around is faster than wire transfer and for stolen data it makes sense to hide the data inside the person. But the nosebleed effect of stuffing data in your head? It's not like the memory chip grows bigger with the data, you know…

Then of course, technology marches on and having information being faxed in 2021 made me laugh almost as much as the exhortation “Turn on your VCRs!”. The 320 GiB Johnny crams into his head were still upgraded a thousandfold from the “several hundred megabytes” he carried in the original story. And the virtual reality scenes? Too incoherent, but then Gibson never had a really coherent explanation of cyberspace anyway.

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