Actor of the Week: Keanu Reeves
When it comes to action films, Keanu Reeves is up there with the best, starring in films like Speed, The Matrix and most recently John Wick, making him easily The One to pick for this week's Actor of the Week.
Being a 90’s child, I have had the privilege of growing up alongside Keanu Reeves’ career hitting the big time, and subsequently his growth in fame. In 1991, the world was properly introduced to Reeves in the action classic Point Break, where he starred alongside acting legends Patrick Swayze and Gary Busey. Point Break has a simple story, about an FBI agent, Johnny Utah, played by Keanu, who goes undercover to try and bring down a group of bank robbers. The unusual thing about this group is that they are all surfers, and enjoy living a very carefree life. Like many films about cops goings undercover, Utah gets caught up in their lifestyle and ends up befriending the group’s leader Bodhi, played by Swayze, therefore making it more and more difficult to bring them down. I am a huge fan of Point Break, with its blend of extreme sports and action really catering to my interests.
After making such an impact in Point Break, Keanu took an odd career choice by playing the role as Ted in Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey. Seeing Reeves go from this cool FBI surfer to this goofy Rock’n’Roll loving kid, who is being hunted by clone versions of him and his best friend Ted, so that the future they create doesn’t exist, is quite the head turner. Strangely though, this very bizarre film didn’t end Reeves’ young career, it somehow elevated it, with Bill & Ted becoming something of a cult classic, and now a source for all things GIF’s and Memes.
Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey was really just a strange detour in Keanu Reeves’ career, with him getting back into more serious roles pretty quickly by starring in another action classic - Speed, where he starred alongside a former Actor of the Week in Sandra Bullock, as well as playing Kevin Lomax in the thriller Devil’s Advocate, where he worked with all-time-great Al Pacino, and another former AotW - Charlize Theron.
All these films were great, but they were just the starters to Reeves’ main course - one of the most iconic films in history and one of my all time favourites - The Matrix. Thomas Anderson, a computer hacker who goes by the alias “Neo”, finds out the world we and him have been living in is a lie. It is a computer construction that we are programmed into by “The Machines”. Freed by Morpheus, played by the renowned Laurence Fishburne, Neo finds out that not only is the real planet earth a wasteland overrun by robots, but that he is “The One” charged with saving what is left of the human race, as told by an ancient prophecy. The Matrix redefined action films forever. Not only did it re-invent hand-to-hand fighting, it made slow-motion cool again. This is best shown in one of the most iconic scenes ever, where Neo dodges bullets by leaning back, with this move being seen numerous times in other films, most recently in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. As a kid, watching this film really cemented my loved for action and movies in general, rewinding all the action scenes on VHS and watching them over and over again. As I get older, and watch this film repeatedly with mature eyes, I start to notice that it’s not only an incredible action film, but the plot is a masterpiece in film writing. There’s a tale of how Will Smith turned down this role to be in the god awful Wild Wild West. If true, I am glad he did, as I could not picture anyone but Keanu Reeves playing Neo.The Matrix went on to become a trilogy, where sadly the 2nd two films were not held in as such high regard as the original, but I still enjoy them a lot.
The main reason I picked Keanu Reeves this week is because I have recently had the pleasure of watching both instalments of John Wick. A retired assassin named John Wick, played by Reeves, sadly loses his wife to what seems like cancer. On her deathbed, John’s wife manages to order him a pet dog so that he will not be alone. On the day after her funeral, John’s house gets broken into, his incredibly cool Shelby Mustang is robbed, and his dog killed in front of him. Little do these burglars know that John was once known as The Boogeyman by criminals around the world, due to his ability to be unstoppable when it comes to killing people. With the first film being about John getting his revenge, the 2nd is about how John managed to get out of this industry in the first place, and it coming back to haunt him. I have to be honest with you, when I saw the trailers for these films, I thought they looked like cheese personified, and, in fairness, they are pretty damn cheesy. What I didn’t expect was the incredible action sequences that reminded me very much of Reeves’ Matrix days, but also this cool assassin universe that is created within the films, which I really want to see more of. A good example is that every major city has a hotel the assassins stay at called The Continental, which is a safe haven for all Assassins and none can be harmed when on this ground. Keanu’s silent nature works well for these films, with Wick doing most of his talking with a fist and a gun. I am very much looking forward to Chapter 3.
So there we have it, the reasons I have chose Keanu Reeves for our Actor of the Week. I can imagine this choice may have raised a few eyebrows as Reeves’ acting isn’t exactly award winning, but for me he certainly knows how to make a great action film. His ability to portray fight scenes or shootouts on screen is really captivating and very believable. Thanks Keanu!