During the course of his career, superstar actor Keanu Reeves has made a surprising amount of sci-fi films (not just The Matrix!) – he’s transported data in his brain while fighting off yakuza gangsters, tried to save the planet with green energy, and battled an evil android replica of himself. And he has done it all in that trademark Keanu style – inscrutable, cool, and unbeatable.
Reeves recently explained why he was drawn to the sci-fi genre: “I’m curious about the future and I think growing up on William Gibson and Neuromancer, and reading Philip K. Dick, even Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, science fiction. I dunno, I just feel the motifs that occur in this kind of storytelling is oftentimes examining the world that we live in.”
With The Matrix 4 currently in post-production, and with sci-fi cult classic JOHNNY MNEMONIC celebrating its 25th anniversary with a superb HD digital release, here’s a look at Keanu’s sci-fi roles onscreen, from cinema blockbusters to hit videogames.
BILL & TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE (1989)
Keanu’s first foray into sci-fi was in this hilarious comedy hit, starring as Ted, alongside Alex Winter as his buddy Bill, who set off in a time machine through the ages to do their history homework, meeting along the way Napoleon, Joan of Arc and Genghis Khan! The film made $40million – as Bill and Ted might say “excellent.”
BILL & TED’S BOGUS JOURNEY (1991)
The dopey duo returned for this sequel, this time getting killed off by robot counterparts, and having to take on the Grim Reaper (at Battleships and Twister) so that they can return to life and save the planet from an evil conqueror. The film was another big hit, and cemented Reeve’s as a box office star to be reckoned with.
JOHNNY MNEMONIC (1995)
Before The Matrix and Inception trod similar ground, Reeves starred in this ahead-of-its time sci-fi thriller set in 2021(!), as a futuristic data carrier with a gobsmacking 80GB storage capacity in his brain!! The first film adaptation of the work of legendary cyberpunk pioneer William Gibson, it is packed with slam-bang action, dazzling visuals, and wild, prophetic technical innovations, and features our hero saying the immortal line: “I can carry 80 gigs of data in my head!”
CHAIN REACTION (1996)
Keanu is a scientific genius who has developed a source of clean, green energy in this sci-fi thriller, that finds him on the run and framed for murder by a shadowy organisation. This is slam-bang action all the way, allowing Reeves to tool around on a 1976 Kawasaki while reactors blow up all around him.
THE MATRIX TRILOGY (1999-2003)
Try to imagine the Wachowski’s ground-breaking Matrix films with someone other than Reeves as Neo – the computer hacker that has a rude awakening when he realises the very nature of reality is not what it seems… let’s face it, Reeves is The Matrix, in all it’s kung-fu-learning, bullet deflecting, leather jacket and shades, and lots of guns glory. Bring on part four immediately!
A SCANNER DARKLY (2006)
Richard Linklater’s acclaimed animated adaptation of sci-fi legend Philip K Dick’s novel features Reeves (among an all-star cast including Robert Downey Jr and Winona Ryder) as undercover agent Bob Arctor, attempting to find out who is behind the supply of the dangerous Substance D drug that is sweeping the country. Like an arthouse version of The Matrix, this is a mind bending trip that gets inside your head.
THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (2008)
A remake of the 1951 sci-fi classic, Reeves plays Klaatu, an alien visitor who comes to Earth with a giant robot in tow. Although Klaatu says he has come to save the planet, the authorities are not so sure of him. Come on, Keanu Reeves says his intentions are good – how can you doubt that dude?
Reeves, once again, is a brilliant, workaholic scientist, here developing lifelike androids. When he loses his family in a car crash, he wants to bring them back to life as robots. Things don’t go quite according to plan…
BILL & TED FACE THE MUSIC (2020)
The boys are back, and looking as youthful as ever, in the third Bill & Ted film which hit screens last year for a much needed dose of escapist sci-fi silliness. In this episode, the Wild Stallions are told they need to grow up and be responsible parents – which is all well and good until they set off on another time travel adventure to save the world… again!
CYBERPUNK 2077 (2020)
One of the biggest, and most eagerly awaited video games from last year, this cinematic epic is set in Night City, California, a place drenched in neon, rife with crime and robots. The main character V, a mercenary, is hired to steal a microchip from a big corporation – hold up, sounds a bit like JOHNNY MNEMONIC! Wait until the end of the trailer to see Keanu as ghostly rock star Johnny Silverhand.