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SYFY WIRE Chosen One of The Day

Chosen One of the Day: Jones, the cyberpunk dolphin in Johnny Mnemonic

By Jessica Toomer

In 1995, the Canadian-American sci-fi flick Johnny Mnemonic landed in theaters. This rare gift of a film starred a man who would become the model by which we judge modern masculinity, a sex-symbol with a soft side, the living embodiment of Jesus Christ: Keanu Reeves.

But, believe it or not, Keanu wasn’t the best thing in this film. Oddly enough, he wasn’t even the sexiest thing in this film.

Johnny Mnemonic is set in 2021 — the far-distant future y’all — a cyberpunk dystopia where human beings serve as mnemonic couriers with storage devices planted in their brains. These devices can hold gigabytes of memory, allowing their carriers to transport large amounts of knowledge across the virtual-reality equivalent of the internet called simply, the Net. Reeves plays the titular Johnny, a courier trying to restore his childhood memories (they’re erased once you stick a chip in your brain) by taking one last lucrative job that requires him to store more information than humanly possible, and deliver it before the Yakuza and a bunch of other criminals rip it from his skull.

To do this he needs the help of a being so intellectually superior and knowledgeable that it can unlock the data stored in Johnny’s device, data that may provide a cure for the plague ravaging a technology-dependent mankind.

And that being just happens to be a dolphin. A cybernetically-enhanced dolphin named Jones.

Jones is a Navy veteran, used by the arm forces for his decryption abilities. Jones had a hard life in the story off which this film is based — those bastards got him hooked on drugs to keep using his cybernetic abilities for their own gain — but in the film, he’s Johnny’s savior of sorts, a secret weapon of the Lo-Teks, the rebels trying to cure this terrible Wi-Fi disease. Jones swims around in a tank, looked after by Ice-T, with an electronic contraption mounted on his head. For Johnny to crack his own brain and retrieve the passcode to the implanted chip, thereby getting rid of the data and getting back his own memories, he has to “loop it through Jones” which means it’s up to this strangely erotic (probably because he’s so cybernetically advanced) porpoise to save the day.

That’s right. Keanu Reeves may be a bonafide action star, but Flipper is the real hero of this thing.

We doubt that a premise this imaginatively ridiculous could exist in cinema today — and we know for a fact that dolphins are discriminated against in Hollywood. When’s the last time you saw a porpoise as the lead in a rom-com or superhero flick?

Jones was ahead of his time.