Keanu Reeves in video games, from Matrix to Cyberpunk, through John Wick

Keanu Reeves in video games, from Matrix to Cyberpunk, through John Wick

Keanu Reeves in video games

The transposition into digital form of film actors in flesh and blood is certainly not new. The videogame world has intertwined, since its first steps, a very strong bond with the cinematographic medium, mainly in the hope of an economic return, at least at the beginning. In recent years we have seen how the industry has evolved to the point of pushing more than one face to make its "appearance" in projects of all sizes and ranks. This demonstrates a decisive media relevance of the videogame medium, never more than in this moment so central in the cultural panorama. This is perhaps due to the fact that many of those who today represent the new promises of cinema, yesterday were more or less avid gamers. And the importance for some, if well rewarded, becomes the norm for all.

Surely, one of the cinematic faces that managed to bewitch gamers the most was that of Keanu Reeves. A true icon that has been able to remain on everyone's lips for more than twenty years (thanks to the selection of a few and targeted works that practically live by word of mouth), her coldness on the screen clashes with the warm and kind soul who proposes to public opinion.

It is no coincidence that, therefore, a surprise appearance at the Microsoft Theater during the Xbox conference at E3 2019 to announce its presence in one of the most anticipated games of the second decade of the 2000s, Cyberpunk 2077, was greeted with clamor from the public, both in the hall and at home. After all, he is one of the most iconic faces of late twentieth century science fiction there is, having taken part in films such as Johnny Mnemonic and, in particular, in the film saga that consecrated him, that of the Matrix. His link with futuristic and dystopian worlds certainly does not end here and it seems, indeed, the common thread that connects the fundamental steps of his career. Given his historian, a turn towards the videogame universe seems almost obligatory and in fact, both directly and indirectly, his person has landed more than once in this territory, even before he was besieged by celebrities. more unexpected.

Let's retrace, then, the most sensational appearances of Keanu Reeves in video games.

Bill & Ted's Excellent Video Game Adventure

Keanu Reeves: detail of the home screen of Bill & Ted's Excellent Video Game Adventure for NES This title represents the best example of what we said above about the "ancestral" link between video games and cinema. Bill & Ted's Excellent Video Game Adventure is a tie-in, released on the NES in 1991, based on the 1989 film of the same name (removing "Video Game") starring Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter. The "posthumous" release is mostly linked to the fact that in the same year the sequel to the film, Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey was coming.

Like many products born with the sole intent of riding the wave of success or an advertising boost, the result was quite disastrous, aided by mostly crushing reviews. Surely not a sparkling debut for the good Keanu but, after all, his participation in the project is practically nil, if you remove the association between the actor's face and the few pixels that make up the digital alter ego of the character he plays in the film. .

Bram Stoker's Dracula

Keanu Reeves: Bram Stoker's Dracula in its first person version for MS-DOS This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of the release of Bram Stoker's Dracula signed by Francis Ford Coppola. As many will remember, a young Keanu Reeves backed the mammoth Gary Oldman and Anthony Hopkins alongside the equally young Winona Ryder. Considered by many to be one of the best film adaptations of Stoker's oeuvre, as well as the last true masterpiece of one of the strongest voices in New Hollywood, this film too has not been deprived of its videogame counterpart.

How it happened often at the time, the game, titled Bram Stoker's Dracula, had different characteristics depending on the platform on which it was to run. We have 8 and 16-bit versions, but also full motion video inserts taken from the movie exclusive to the Sega CD, or, again, different numbers of levels to overcome and even genre variations (for example, the version for MS -DOS was the only one to break away from side scrolling to take the drift of the first person shooter to DOOM or Wolfenstein). In any case, we always check Jonathan Harker, the character played by Reeves in the film.

Despite the variety of experiences available, this slew of titles released between 1993 and 1995 did not convince virtually anyone, marking a further false step in the initial dialogue between video games and cinema, once again starring the face of Keanu Reeves.


Keanu Reeves: Constantine's tie-in After the success of Matrix , as happens for many actors struggling with characters that have become iconic, it was difficult for Keanu Reeves to be able to detach his professional figure from that of his alter ego, Neo. In fact, it was necessary to wait for another saga like that of John Wick to give the public the opportunity to stop associating the actor's face with that of the protagonist of the films of Lana and Lilly Wachowski (finding, however, another icon of similar importance, which will remain linked to him for several years).

In the time gap that separates the end of the Matrix and the beginning of John Wick, Reeves has participated in several projects that have allowed him not to forget to the public of his existence outside the universe that consecrated him. One of these was Constantine, a more than forgettable film in which he plays a demon hunter. While not an exciting film, it nevertheless represented the "perfect" example for further squeezing through the videogame medium. In 2005, along with the film, the related video game, Constantine, made its debut on PlayStation 2, Xbox and Windows PC. Probably appreciated more than its cinematic counterpart, the experience still remained in the vicinity of sufficiency, as did many similar operations that took place during the early 2000s.

The Matrix: Path of Neo

Keanu Reeves: finally in the role of Neo in The Matrix: Path of Neo Obviously, a Matrix video game could not be missing. We are talking about it only at this moment for the simple fact that, in chronological terms, it mysteriously arrives after the release of Constantine, that is in November 2005. Although it is not the first video game dedicated to the universe created by the Wachowski sisters (to mention Enter The Matrix, a title released simultaneously with Matrix Reloaded which offers, in addition to the use of motion capture for combat animations, also an hour of shooting on 35 mm film, made by the two directors specifically for the game), The Matrix: Path of Neo is the first video game that allows you to step into the shoes of Neo and relive some of the most iconic moments of the saga, specially chosen by the authors of the latter.


Keanu Reeves: John Wick joins the PAYDAY 2 team We finally arrive at the renaissance of Keanu Reeves, coinciding with his debut as the ruthless killer John Wick. On the occasion of the release of the film, the character made a special appearance in PAYDAY 2 in the form of free additional content that, in addition to a whole series of objects and weapons related to the franchise, allowed to impersonate the alter ego of Reeves. To justify his presence, the team had even managed to create a subplot that linked the character to one of the members of the gang of robbers. The commitment is appreciated, but we are always in the territories of the publicity stunt.

John Wick Chronicles

Keanu Reeves: the VR experience dedicated to John Wick Well yes, the name of Keanu Reeves is also linked to the world of virtual reality. Another project conceived more with an advertising intent than a playful one was John Wick Chronicles, a video game released exclusively for HTC Vive. Composed of only four levels (one of which represented by the tutorial), situations repeated several times and a standard structure on tracks, the game was sold for around twenty euros, an out of scale figure, if we consider the complete experience no longer than an hour.

John Wick Hex

Keanu Reeves: the interesting experiment by John Wick Hex On a completely different level we find John Wick Hex, a video game whose title already says a lot. Referring to the tradition of hexagonal map games, this particular title is not only a project born as something parallel to the film, detached from the usual advertising perspective that we have seen in previous video games, but also an experience that lives on its videogame nature. The genre is a clue, given that hexagonal strategy isn't quite the kind of video game a major producer would be looking for to massively advertise their fast-paced action movie (something that, nowadays, is more suited to a product like Fortnite, where, in fact, John Wick left his mark in conjunction with the release of the third chapter of the saga).

The devotion and respect of the developers regarding its source of origin is evident in the videogame packaging which, although not fully convinced, still remains a more than dignified operation, comparing it to those examined above.

Cyberpunk 2077

Keanu Reeves: Johnny Silverhand, first true role for the independent actor from any film counterpart And here we are at the halfway point; the moment that marked Keanu Reeves as one of the actor's "pioneers of the new world" represented by video games. His collaboration with the CD Projekt Red team was undoubtedly the most significant advertising push for the Polish studio's ambitious project, Cyberpunk 2077. Of course, unlike other titles more closely tied to a cinematic context, where a more focused motion capture work enhances the actor's performances, Reeves' appearance as Johnny Silverhand is more of a ghostly presence, a shadow with a familiar voice. , which is not a true performative reconstruction of the interpreter. There remains no doubt, however, that this event has attracted the attention of many well-known faces of the "cinema" machine.

The Matrix Awakens

Keanu Reeves: Neo's return to The Matrix Awakens At the moment, Keanu Reeves' latest videogame stop is represented by The Matrix Awakens, a kind of double promotional spot. On the one hand, it advertises the arrival in the hall of the fourth chapter of the famous saga while, on the other, it highlights the possibilities offered by the Unreal Engine 5 graphics engine in a substantial technical demo. Here, Keanu appears again as Neo, but, again, we can't control him. Not that there is much to do, after all, considering that it is a free demonstration.

There remains undoubted, however, the link between the actor and some key moments in the current history of the sector, which will contribute to build a dense and varied precedent, eagerly linked to a media encounter of unheard-of significance.

The story of Keanu Reeves in video games, for the moment, stops here. Let us know which appearances of him (be it his person or the characters he brought to the screen) in the world of video games impressed you the most. We look forward to seeing you in the comments.

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