Sunday, May 18, 2008

Nerd Rage Ignite: Neuromancer to star Hayden Christensen

I don't get all nerd-ragey too much; I don't care about comic books. Neuromancer, a breakthrough science fiction novel that catapulted the cyberpunk genre to the mainstream, is a different matter. It's a seminal novel from whence the term cyberspace came, which along with Blade Runner, helped brand the future as a dark and seedy place run by enormous multinational corporate entities.

The story doesn't really matter; the world and characters it created is what everyone remembers about it. Emo kid Hayden is poised to play Case, a burned-out console jockey recruited for a hacking job. Case had his brain burned by a previous employer as punishment for theft, and he can't hack anymore; in his depression he's become addicted to a number of opiates. A mercenary named Molly finds him for a job for a man named Armitage, who offers to reverse the brain damage so he can plug into cyberspace to do a job for him. It's rather complex, with the hand behind all the jobs being the big secret to the title. There's not a lot of action in the story, but there's a lot of cool stuff to visualize on the big screen.

I haven't seen Johnny Mnemonic, also based on a story by Gibson. A cybernetic junkie dolphin with an ascii grid on his forehead works better on paper than on screen, I think. There's a cybernetically enhanced ninja in that story as well. Originally he looks like a tourist and has a "whip" of monofilament wire that works as his futuristic samurai sword; in the movie I think that gave him a lightsaber katana or something just as silly. There was also a Jesus hit man, if the brief glimpses on HBO weren't hallucinations. It's in the queue and I'll watch it soon. Here at Pluck You Too!, we watch bad movies so you don't have to.

Hayden Christiansen is no Keanu Reeves. Keanu may be as wooden as McCartney's ex's leg, but he can hold a movie together with it, like a couple of two-by-fours nailed together for bracing. Hayden is widely ridiculed for his embarrassing performances in the Star Wars prequels, and the flop Jumper, where he played a teleporting emo kid. Case is not an emo kid. He's pretty burnt out, but he's actually supposed to be smart. I don't think Hayden can play smart. A nobody made famous by Star Wars who is dumb enough to talk smack about the series.

The director is a nightmare as well. His only major film is Torque, which was about Ice Cube on a motorcycle that defied gravity. Check out this youtube compilation to see the genius behind Torque. It makes the Fast and the Furious look like pure unadulterated genius. I can only imagine what this guy will do with Neuromancer. Perhaps with the Wachowski Brothers (though one's a sister now) making Speed Racer, cyberspace will have progressed to something truly unique on screen, though I'd be more comfortable with a visionary director like Darren Aronofsky behind the wheel. The Fountain may be flawed, but visually it's probably the most stunning movie since 2001: A Space Odyssey.

That's the kind of director a project like Neuromancer needs. Someone crazy, really. Case should be a nobody; someone we won't immediately stare at and think "Darth Douche thinks he's a hacker. I hope he says something about how he hates sand or some shit!" I'd much rather have Keanu, though he's probably shy after Johnny Mnemonic. I can deal with a Case who occasionally says "whoa." Johnny Mnemonic is somehow set in Newark, which means I have to see it... no matter how horrible it is. Judge for yourself.


Andy C. said...

I just read about this mind-bogglingly lame casting decision couple of days ago. I never really thought about who I'd want to see play Case in a film adaptation... now that I do, someone like Edward Norton comes to mind. You know, someone who can act?

On the one hand, I doubt anyone could really pull off a film version of Neuromancer that does the book justice.

On the other hand, I remember Strange Days having some compelling moments, even if it should have been set just a little bit further in the future. Of course, I haven't seen that one since I watched it in the theater. It might be cringingly awful if I tried to watch it now.

tommy salami said...

No offense, but I tried to watch Strange Days recently as I missed it back in the day. It seems kind of quaint now, of course, but still creative. at 2.5 hours it's difficult to get geared up to watch.

Cowboy Case? Ed Norton is good but too soft and even too old.
Nick Stahl should go beat up Hayden for the part.

Andy C. said...

Wow, Strange Days was 2.5 hours long? No wonder I haven't bothered to watch it since the theater.

There was definitely a big suspension-of-disbelief pill to swallow for that film in 1995; the fashion/tech that we were supposedly going to have just four years hence was preposterous. It would definitely be quaint/silly to watch it now with no prior exposure.

Mostly what I'd like to see again is Vincent D'Onofrio's insane/evil cop performance.

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