So this is where they fetched their inspiration for the Matrix! It's got so many similarities. The head plugs. The pain. The rebels and government agents; the mob that wars on their behalf, in a post-apocalyptic future that isn't quite all it's hyped up to be. The main difference is that in this world, they see their reality. There is no illusion. Which, despite it being the very core of the concept behind the Matrix movies, feels like a minor dissimilarity in the bigger picture! Watch it and I'm sure you'll agree: this feels like a predecessor to the aforementioned masterpiece.
The story? Johnny is a data courier, carrying data from point A to point B, physically, via a wet-wired memory implant in his brain. It's all convincingly explained, and looks convincing too (with that awesome pre-millennium era type of fatbox electronics and robust-looking gadgets), though the memory limitations (no doubt large at the time) clearly tell us times were different back then.
The story starts like this: Johnny needs to do one last delivery. If he does, he can regain the memories he offered in exchange for the artificial memory implant in his head. Johnny ups his memory limit for the final job. 160 GB. Should be more than enough. The deal is 320 GB. Alright, he says. I've got it. Hit me. They upload the data - to his great torment and nosebleed, and shortly thereafter the Yakuza storm the place and shoot up his associates, and from there on out everything goes sour.
Turns out what he carries in his head is the cure for NSA, a modern-day disorder of a society overloaded with technology much like electric allergy is now, but with more severe side-effects. The company who created this cure doesn't want to give it away from free, the Yakuza wouldn't mind the extra money either, there's a ghost in the system (in the shell?), and Johnny just wants that shit out of his head. But carrying the salvation for all of humankind... is quite the burden!
It's a gritty, dark, 80-era-type violent venture through a potential-future version of Brooklyn where society's decayed, yet clings onto the corpse of old: humans getting by however they can. Dolph Lundgren jumps on the bandwagon as a mad Preacherman, and a few other familiar faces pop-up within the Yakuza, most notably Takeshi Kitano, the man behind such awesome works as Battle Royale. Keanu Reeves plays the main character (Johnny). He meets a girl, Jane (Dina Meyer)... and then there's J-Bone, head of the Loteks, played by none other than Ice-T! It's a strange blend of nostalgia and realization, a glimpse of a sci-fi world with woes more relevant today than ever, with an atmosphere that permeates history... decay... a parallel future in a time that strayed. All in all, not a bad movie!
rated 4/5: fo shizzle