Keanu Reeves has gained a reputation for being a bad actor. I am here to say that reputation is unjustified. Sure, Reeves has made some bad choices, but he also has some unsung masterpieces out there. And he has a reputation for being one of the most genuinely nice guys in Hollywood. Not to mention there are rumours of his immortality......
With him receiving rave reviews for John Wick, released today, we celebrate his best work. Whoa!
Setting aside the poor sequels, The Matrix is the Wachowskis’ finest work (except the comic masterpiece that is Jupiter Ascending.) Starring alongside Laurence Fishburne and Hugo Weaving, Reeves plays Neo, the chosen one in a futuristic dystopian world that works as a commentary on Marxism, a Jesus analogy, or just a bloody good sci-fi film.
And it’s easy to forget just how revolutionary “bullet-time” was back then.
The story goes that Keanu Reeves was so excited about the script for My Own Private Idaho that he rode his motorbike all the way from Canada to Florida, just to convince his friend River Phoenix to star in it with him. Gus Van Sant’s tale of two Portland street hustlers is an exceptional film, and while mostly remembered for being one of Phoenix’s finest performances, Reeves also is warranting some praise. As Scott, the son of Portland’s mayor in the midst of a rebellious phase before he inherits his fortune at 21, Reeves plays a character that is essentially an update of Prince Hal from Henry IV, and the Shakespearian flavour of the dialogue fits well with Reeves experience with the Bard. The chemistry between the two leads is electric, while Reeves’ performance is as far away from Ted Theodore Logan as you can get.
Speaking of Ted Theodore Logan and his pal Bill S Preston Esq, the late 80s comedies Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey were so iconic that they’ve forever characterised the intelligent Reeves as an incredibly dumb but well-meaning guy, who says “whoa” a lot. The 80s seemed to have a lot of fun with time-travel, but Bill & Ted’s adventures in their phone box are no Back to the Future. No, instead they travel the past, and the future, meeting famous figures such as Abraham Lincoln and Socrates (or rather, So-Crates), spreading their message. It’s a message we all should live by: Be excellent to each other.
Reeves’ debut as a director was created to showcase the stunt co-ordinator of The Matrix, Tiger Chen, with Reeves featured as the primary antagonist. Also starring The Raid’s Iko Uwais, this multi-lingual martial arts film has praised both Reeves’ skills behind the camera, and his detached delivery only serves to make his villain even more terrifying.
From Queen of Action Kathryn Bigelow comes Point Break, a rollicking action crime film starring Reeves as rookie FBI agent Johnny Utah, and focuses on his complex friendship with surfing gang leader Bodhi (Patrick Swayze). Immortalised in Hot Fuzz, Point Break is one of the most fun and unique action adventures of the 90s.
The blueprint for action movies that don’t require a lot of thought but are incredibly fun is basically Speed. This film sees Keanu and Sandra Bullock trapped on a bus by Dennis Hopper, rigged to explode if the speed drops below 50 miles per hour. It’s a ludicrous concept, but is still full of high action, moments of comedy, and a great on screen partnership between Reeves and Bullock. When Reeves didn’t return for Speed 2 and Bullock did, the result was awful.
Adapted from Philip K Dick’s novel by Richard Linklater, the main draw of this film is the incredible rotoscoping style of animation, where the actors perform the scenes but then each frame is painted over to create an animated film. It looks stunning, but we must not neglect the wonderful cast. Joining Reeves as protagonist Bob Arctor are actors of such calibre as Winona Ryder, Robert Downey Jr and Woody Harrelson. As with Dick’s other stories (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, which became Blade Runner, being the most notable), A Scanner Darkly deals with hard sci-fi themes, but the stylistic choices lends the whole film a more surreal air, complimenting Reeves’ increasingly detached lead.
Side by Side
Side by Side is a little different. This documentary, created by Reeves, looks at the difference between film and digital movie-making. Delightful viewing for movie buffs, Side by Side reveals Reeves’ true and admirable passion for his art.
What Do You Think ?
Are these the best Keanu movies?
Or is there anything you feel a miss?
John Wick is out in cinemas now!
Read Cookie's Review Now!