Whether he’s fighting agents in a machine-created dream world or flying across time with his best buddy, Keanu Reeves (The John Wick Franchise) has starred in some of modern cinema’s most beloved science fiction flicks. Now in 2019, the man who introduced us to the enduring pop culture icon Neo, welcomes us into the thrilling future world of Replicas.
In Replicas, Keanu stars as Will Foster, a daring neuroscientist on the verge of successfully transferring human consciousness into a robot body. When his family is tragically killed in a car crash, Will makes the fateful decision to use his research to preserve their minds and transfer them into secretly-grown clone bodies. Offering a fresh take on the Frankenstein myth, Replicas is a taut and action-packed sci-fi thriller about family, loss and the dangerous questions surrounding emerging scientific technologies.
So, as we await the release of Replicas, join us in looking back some over Keanu’s most spectacular sci-fi roles.
BILL AND TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE (1989)
Travelling back to 1989, Keanu made his first foray into sci-fi with fan-favourite comedy Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Still in the teen-heartthrob stage of his career, Keanu was perfectly cast as dim-witted dude Ted who, along with his slacker buddy Bill (Alex Winter), are about to fail their high school history report. With Ted set to be shipped off to Military school, the duo’s beloved band, the Wyld Stallyns, looks set to break up before they have even learned to play guitar… Enter mysterious future dude Rufus and a time-travelling phone booth. Soon Bill and Ted journey to ages past, picking up Napoleon, Joan of Arc, Socrates and Abraham Lincoln on the way. Standing the test of time, Bill and Ted have proven an enduring success, earning themselves a 1991 sequel, Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey, as well as an upcoming third feature with Keanu set to reprise one of his most beloved roles. Excellent!
In 1995 Keanu took his first foray into the cyberpunk subgenre of sci-fi with Johnny Mnemonic. Set in the near future, Keanu plays a ‘mnemonic courier’ carrying highly sensitive information via a dangerous cybernetic brain implant for money. Taking on one last job before he can have the hazardous device removed for good, Johnny agrees to transfer a lethal dose of top-secret info that needs to be delivered fast. But it’s not so easy once the headhunting yakuza arrive on the scene! Co-starring Japanese screen legend Takeshi Kitano (Battle Royale, Zatoichi) and 80s muscleman Dolph Lundgren (Rocky IV, Universal Soldier), Johnny Mnemonic is based on a story by noted sci-fi writer, and the man who coined the term ‘cyber-space’, William Gibson. Critics may not have been kind on its original release but we love the seriously 90s vibes of this offbeat cyberpunk oddity.
CHAIN REACTION (1996)
Keanu earned his action stripes in 1994 with worldwide blockbuster Speed, and Chain Reaction sees him back in movie star mode but this time giving the action a sci-fi twist. The film follows Eddie, a scientist working as part of a team that are developing a new form of clean energy. When someone attempts to steal the formula and blows up the team’s lab, Eddie finds himself framed and on the run with physicist Lily (Rachel Weisz) in tow. Acting heavyweights Morgan Freeman and Brian Cox add a touch of class to a fun 90s thrill ride.
THE MATRIX TRILOGY (1999 – 2003)
Under the direction of The Wachowskis, The Matrix folded multiple influences including philosophy, evolutionary biology, Eastern religion and anime into a cyberpunk story packed with revolutionary ideas and ground-breaking action sequences. The story follows Neo, a computer hacker who discovers the world around us is not all it appears when he receives an invitation from cyber-terrorists Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) and Trinity (Carrie Ann-Moss). The film’s Hong Kong action-movie inspired wire-fu techniques created visual thrills unseen at the time, while the depth of the story rewarded multiple viewings. Two sequels completed Neo’s story on film, while a sprawling extended universe comprised of video games, animated films and comic books have expanded on The Matrix universe. Among a career of stellar hits, The Matrix is possibly Keanu’s finest role, and one that changed the face of modern sci-fi. Take the red pill and descend down The Matrix’s rabbit hole…
A SCANNER DARKLY (2006)
Cerebral sci-fi A Scanner Darkly comes from the pen of legendary author Philip K. Dick, the mind behind Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report and many more classics of the genre. A Scanner Darkly tackles themes common to Dick’s work and is set in a grim future where a powerful drug, Substance D, has taken over the country. Keanu plays undercover agent Bob Arctor who’s on a mission to find and disrupt the drug’s supply chain. When he becomes addicted to the hallucinogenic drug, Arctor finds it increasingly difficult to separate himself from his undercover persona. Richard Linklater was the unlikely director to bring this title to screen. Visually arresting, the film used a special method of animation called interpolated rotoscope, which animated the film after it had been shot digitally. Trippy.
THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (2008)
In 2008 Keanu starred in the big-budget remake of the classic 1950s sci-fi The Day the Earth Stood Still. The original, directed by legendary filmmaker Robert Wise, who also made Star Trek: The Motion Picture and The Andromeda Strain, has gone down in sci-fi history as one of the finest movies ever produced. The film incorporated Cold War era fears into the tale of an alien visitor who arrives on earth with an important message for mankind. The remake replaced the original’s warning about the destructive power of Cold War nuclear warfare with a grave concern for environmental damage to the planet, with Keanu’s well-meaning alien visitor decidinf whether humans can change their destructive ways or if he must eradicate them from the planet. A must-see for sci-fi fans with a sober warning about humanity’s future. Klaatu barada nikto!
ANYONE CAN QUANTUM (2016)
It’s not strictly a movie, but this fun short made by US University Caltech’s Institute for Quantum Information and Matter is worth a mention. Made to kick off a celebration of quantum science the promo video sees Hollywood actor Paul Rudd forced to grapple with the concepts of quantum mechanics in order to beat professor Stephen Hawking in a game of chess. And why does Paul Rudd have to beat Stephen Hawking at chess? Keanu Reeves visits him from 700 years in the future and tells him the fate of mankind depends on it… Not only does the short feature a cameo from Marvel’s Ant Man, it’s directed by Keanu’s old Bill and Ted buddy Alex Winter! As Ted would say, ‘Whoa..!’