It’s no secret that all movies adapting video games are terrible. Literally all of them. There are some that better than others, but if we look at the Rotten Tomatoes scores for them all then there isn’t a single ‘good’ video game movie. Maybe a lot of that is the actresses and actors cast in the lead role. Bob Hoskins as Mario? Nope. Mark Wahlberg as Max Payne? Crap. Timothy Olyphant as Agent 47? Actually that one isn’t too bad. But mostly these castings are most people immediate problems with video game movies. Here are 5 ideal casting choices that might improve the state of the genre.
5. Keanu Reeves as Adam Jensen
Ok, ok, so Keanu Reeves is possibly a bit old for the mid-30’s Adam Jensen but nobody on this earth would be more suited to play Adam Jensen in an adaptation of Deus Ex: Human Revolution/Mankind Divided. Not only does Reeves look quite a bit like Jensen (visual similarities between the video game version of a character and the movie version is essential) but Jensen and Reeves have similar voices too. Only a unique voice like that of Keanu Reeves could deliver the famous gruff dialogue of Adam Jensen. Plus we know he’d be up for the action stuff, arguably his best work has been in action heavy films like Speed, Point Break, and The Matrix. And he’d definitely be still up for it now, having starred in perhaps the best American action of the this decade; John Wick.
Reeves is also a solid dramatic actor, and could handle the dramatic heft of the games technology vs humanity debate. After Bram Stoker’s Dracula people often mistakenly call Reeves a bad actor but this is wrong. Films like My Own Private Idaho, A Scanner Darkly, Street Kings and his new awesome turn as a creepy motel manager in The Neon Demon. But it is true he can do unemotional and withdrawn very well, which would be perfect for the famously stoic loner Adam Jensen.
4. Russell Crowe as Max Payne
When Marky-Mark took on the role of Max Payne in the 2008 screen adaptation of the video game of the same name it didn’t go down too well with fans of the series. The film itself was rubbish; a grim and tired mess, and the same could be said of Mark Wahlberg’s Max. Mark Wahlberg isn’t even a bad actor, in the right films he can be brilliant (Boogie Nights, Three Kings, The Departed, Lone Survivor), but Max Payne was crap and he was crap in it. He tried his best but he’s just not world-weary enough, or angry enough, to play Max Payne, a man whose wife and newborn child had been violently murdered.
For a new adaptation of the video game series, the best thing to do would be to relegate the events of Max Payne 1 and 2 to flashbacks and instead have the film’s main storyline adapt the franchise high point; Max Payne 3. For this an older, angrier, and even more self destructive Max would be needed. Hmm, which older actor is famously angry and self destructive…
Mel Gibson! Erm, I mean; Russell Crowe! Seriously, 10 years ago Mel Gibson would’ve been perfect, and this has nothing to do with his much publicised drink problems (perfect for Max Payne actually) but Gibson is a little old for this now. He’s more bad-ass now than ever but he’s in his 60’s and is rocking an increasingly brilliant resume as a director. A more suitable candidate would be Russell Crowe. Crowe might to old to play the eponymous character of Max Payne 1 and 2 but he’s be perfect for the older Max Payne of 3. Recent films like Man of Steel show Crowe can still easily do action, he looks cool rocking the Max Payne 3 bald look (see: Noah), and he has lots of experience playing embittered noir characters living in a world of grey morality (L.A. Confidential, The Nice Guys). Whether he’d want to do a video game movie is another thing entirely but hey, he did The Man With The Iron Fists so we know it wouldn’t be beneath him.
3. Tom Cruise as Sam Fisher
Ok, so a different Tom has already been cast in the role of Sam Fisher, the protagonist of the Splinter Cell series. Tom Hardy is apparently portraying Sam fisher in the long gestating movie adaptation, which sounds brilliant. Hardy is one of the best actors working today and is suited to both action roles and dramatic roles, so would be perfect for the Tom Clancy Splinter Cell world. But Hardy’s best work is usually outside of big budget action blockbusters and franchises. His Bane in The Dark Knight Rises was fun but it’s nowhere near the top of Hardy’s best roles and his Max in Mad Max wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t close to Mel Gibson’s version. No, Hardy’s best work is in films like Bronson or The Revenent, films where he has more freedom to do what he wants and act in his own (unique) way.
A better choice for Sam Fisher would be Tom Cruise. He’s done the required espionage action stuff in films like the Mission Impossible series and Jack Reacher, and he definitely has the acting capabilities (Collateral). Like the previous entry in this list, a movie adaptation of Splinter Cell would be best if it adapted the later adventures of Sam Fisher. This era of the frequently rogue, ageing spy would be most suited for film as it gives him the most character (what ever your opinion on it Conviction was definitely the deepest look at Sam Fisher in the Splinter Cell Series). The film could start with him being an already established bad ass, which the audience would accept immediately because it’s Tom Cruise, and go from there. Sam’s relationship with his daughter and his war buddies like Vic could also be used to great effect.
2. Guy Pearce as John Marston
There are a few good options when it comes to casting the protagonist of Red Dead Redemption, and Guy Pearce might not be at the top of everyone’s lists. Names like Viggo Mortensen or Brad Pitt (who was once attached to a film version of RDR) are usually thrown around in this discussion but it’s Pearce who would truly excel in the role. John Marston is a cold hearted and bad ass gunslinger, he’s done some pretty awful things in the past. But deep down he has a heart of gold, and you sympathise greatly with him. Pearce would be great for this; his roles in films like The Rover prove that he can do this sort of anti-hero thing excellently.
He’s also got experience playing a less than perfect cowboy in The Proposition, the brilliant John Hillcoat film (who also directed a short Red Dead Redemption machinima). In that Pearce plays Charlie Burns, a gang member, who after being captured is sent to hunt down his brother and kill him. Charlie’s not a villain but he’s definitely an outlaw similarly to Marston who, despite the intention to settle down with his family, is still at heart an outlaw. Red Dead is a little more action packed than The Proposition but Pearce would be good at that too. From blockbusters like Iron Man 3, to cult films like Lockout, Pearce isn’t new to action scenes. Plus he can sing. Not that it would be needed, John Marston never sung, but maybe the film version of RDR could sneak in a little music number for him.
1. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Geralt of Rivia
Adapting arguably the best game of the last decade into a live action film won’t be an easy task. It’s been turned into a TV show before with less than satisfactory results. The Witcher series (games AND books) is so dense with lore and story that to make a film version seems nigh on impossible – but a solid casting choice for the lead would certainly help. And for that the number 1 pick would be Jamie Lannister himself; Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. Fellow Danish actor and lovable TV rogue; Mads Mikkelsen, is usually top of the list in these discussions but is perhaps too sinister to play Geralt, who at the heart of it, is a hero. Geralt might have done questionable looking things in the past but he’s a good guy at the end of the day, (the ‘Butcher of Blaviken’ moniker might sound sinister but it was gained through Geralt saving an entire village). As Jamie Lannister in the latest couple of Game of Thrones seasons show, Coster-Waldau is perfect as the grudging, and misunderstood hero.
And we know he could do the sword fighting required. He’s had a couple of opportunities to show off his skills in Game of Thrones (cut short by a mid-season 3 amputation though) and even a bit of good stuff in his role in “the ‘Battlefield Earth’ of sword-and-sorcery movies;” God’s of Egypt. He looks the part too, especially during Jamie Lannister’s depressed era on season 3 of Game of Thrones. Coster-Waldau has the acting chops too, just watch GoT, Headhunters, or Mama. It is his performance as the Kingslayer though that makes him the best candidate for a movie version of The White Wolf though. The bad ass with a heart of gold thing that’s developing with Jamie in GoT would be perfect for Geralt; he might be hardened monster hunter but he’s got a heart too.
Do you agree with these choices? Got some of your own? Let us know in the comments!