10 Best Acting Performances In Video Game Movie Adaptations, Ranked

Video game adaptations don't have the best reputation in Hollywood. Most are mediocre at best, with many getting panned by critics and discarded as sub-par entertainment. Still, things seem to be changing. The genre might not be exactly thriving, but it isn't the barren wasteland it was a few years ago.

The recent releases of Mortal Kombat and Sonic the Hedgehog prove video game adaptations are improving, thanks largely to the committed actors taking on roles in such films. These performers defied expectations, delivering memorable and even nuanced work, even if the films as a whole weren't exactly Oscar material.


10 Ali Larter - Resident Evil: Extinction (2007)

Claire Redfield aiming a gun at someone in Resident Evil: Extinction.

For a series as critically reviled as Resident Evil, the films did include multiple great performances. Milla Jovovich might be the undeniable star, but she was never afraid to share the spotlight. The perfect example is Ali Larter's great take on Claire Redfield in 2007's Resident Evil: Extinction.

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The third film in the series is more of the same, but at least it allows its two leading ladies to be as badass as possible. In fact, it encourages them. Larter's Redfield is battle-hardened and instinctive, a survivor who's made it this far not to see the end. With Larter and Jovovich, Resident Evil proves its greatest strength was always the women at the center of the zombie-killing action.

9 Hiroyuki Sanada - Mortal Kombat (2021)

Hanzo Scorpion wielding his kunai-rope in the 2021 Mortal Kombat movie.

Unlike the 1995 film, 2021's Mortal Kombat lived up to the franchise's gory nature. Bloody and violent, the film delivered some of the best fights and action sequences of any video game adaptation, successfully capturing the MK essence. The film did many other things right, including casting Hiroyuki Sanada as the iconic Scorpion.

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Few gaming antiheroes are as enduring or compelling as Scorpion. Equally sympathetic and reprehensible, Scorpion is Mortal Kombat's greatest icon, and Sanada lives up to the expectations. Expertly blending the character's tragedy with his undeniable brutality, Sanada delivers the ultimate take on Scorpion.

8 Kaya Scodelario - Resident Evil: Welcome To Raccoon City (2021)

Claire Redfield looking scared in Resident Evil Welcome to Raccoon City.

Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City might be the most fateful adaptation of a Resident Evil game, proving at last that the franchise doesn't work in live-action. Still, the film has several high points, including Kaya Scodelario's lead performance as Claire Redfield.

Claire is arguably the most iconic character in the franchise, and Scodelario does her justice. In tandem with the pleasantly surprising Robbie Amell as her brother, Chris, Scodelario's Claire is the film's beating heart. She captures the character's essence and successfully brings it to life, honoring the source material in a way the film's script doesn't. Most films in the Resident Evil franchise are bad, saved only by their casts' committed performances. Welcome to Raccoon City is no exception.

7 Alicia Vikander - Tomb Raider (2018)

Lara Croft standing amidst smoke and looking to the distance in Tomb Raider.

Alicia Vikander spent her post-Oscar caché in a high-budget reboot of the Lara Croft series. Tomb Raider featured a more athletic, less bimbofied, and overall more grounded version of Lara Croft, showcasing Vikander's athleticism and commitment to the role.

The efforts only half-work, though, as Vikander is ultimately let down by the film's unwillingness to step out of the origin-story comfort zone. Tomb Raider is more disappointing than outright bad, but the frustration increases, considering Vikander is such an inspired choice for a role in which she ultimately shines.

6 Ryan Reynolds - Detective Pikachu (2019)

Detective Pikachu smiling in the film of the same name.

Detective Pikachu has no right to be as good as it is. The film's premise is ludicrous, even for a Pokémon film, and the VFX don't quite make its iconic pocket monsters justice. However, Detective Pikachu has one thing going on: Ryan Reynolds' voice performance in the titular role.

Casting Reynolds as the voice of a talking Pikachu might seem like nothing more than stunt casting, but the actor does magic with the role. He delivers his lines with breezy confidence, keeping things on the PG-13 side but always hinting at the R-rated sensibilities lurking beneath. His lively performance keeps the film afloat even when it threatens to sink into nonsense with its third act. Detective Pikachu is the best Pokémon film by a considerable margin, and it's mainly thanks to Reynolds' charm.

5 Angelina Jolie - Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)

Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft in a promo image for Tomb Raider.

Critics and viewers don't sing enough praises for Angelina Jolie's portrayal of Lara Croft in the two Tomb Raider films. Both the 2001 original and its 2003 sequel are objectively bad, but what little works about them is thanks to Jolie's pitch-perfect performance in the leading role.

Jolie doesn't only look ripped straight out of the video game, but she embodies Croft perfectly. The actress benefits the film with a sense of elegance missing from everything else while providing an undeniably impressive physicality that makes every dumb setpiece around her slightly more believable.

4 Jim Carrey - Sonic The Hedgehog/Sonic The Hedgehog 2 (2020/2022)

Dr. Robotnik smiling in Sonic the Hedgehog.

Jim Carrey is one of the last remaining examples of the classic Hollywood movie star. With the Sonic the Hedgehog movies, the man who redefined the '90s comedy proves that he still has the unique ability to charm and entertain audiences that have been sorely missing from blockbusters.

Dr. Robotnik has all the traits of a classic Jim Carrey role. He's silly and hectic, yet possessing a creepy quality that makes him unsettling, almost menacing. The best part is Carrey doesn't need to overdo it. His 10% is other actors' 110%. The Sonic movies are lighthearted, family-friendly entertainment, but Carrey doesn't fake it. His Eggman is every bit a Carrey performance, and the films are all the better because of it.

3 Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa - Mortal Kombat (1995)

Shang Tsung looking haughty in Mortal Kombat.

1995's Mortal Kombat is a thing of '90s beauty. "Extra" in the best and worst ways possible, the film does justice to the series' excess if not its trademark gore. Mortal Kombat has flaws aplenty, but there's plenty to celebrate, especially Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa's scenery-chewing performance as Shang Tsung.

Already one of the most iconic villains in video game history, Shang Tsung needs no introduction. Tagawa shines in the role, keeping an air of menace in what could easily be an over-the-top performance. Yet, Tagawa is an instant icon as Shang Tsung, conducting himself with an elegance and maturity that stands out and suits the character perfectly.

2 Raúl Juliá - Street Fighter (1994)

M Bison looking confused in Street Fighter.

Legendary actor Raúl Juliá elevated every project in which he appeared, no matter the size of his role. Lead or supporting, Juliá had a screen presence that few actors could match. He calibrated his performances with nuance and enhanced them with passion, playing over-the-top characters by being in on the joke rather than becoming its victim. Nowhere is this rare talent more obvious than his role as M. Bison in 1994's Street Fighter.

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Unlike Jean-Claude Van Damme, who drowns in the film's aggressive histrionics, Juliá thrives on the camp, delivering a gleefully unhinged take on the classic video game villain. Juliá's M. Bison is hammy, and he knows it, speaking every line with confident theatricality.

1 Milla Jovovich - Resident Evil Series (2002-2016)

Alice pointing a gun at someone in Resident Evil.

The Resident Evil films are quite bad. That much is true. However, it's a genuine accomplishment that the series went on for nearly fifteen years, spawning six commercially successful films and cementing the franchise's place in pop culture, and it's all thanks to Milla Jovovich.

Alice is an original character created for the films, making her now-iconic place amidst the Resident Evil lore more impressive. Even when the films degenerated into a senseless CGI mess, Jovovich remained staunchly committed to them, delivering a stoic yet compelling performance that single-handedly carried the series. For all their flaws, the RE films knew their strength lived and died with Jovovich, choosing to showcase her as the star she was.

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