He was one of the biggest action stars of the 90s. Now, aged 50, Keanu’s back with a vengeance.
Keanu Reeves has been around, believe me. Remember 47 Ronin last year? Yeah, neither do I. Keanu Reeves has been in some movies recently, even directing one called Man of Tai Chi, which was also seen by very few people and arrived in the UK direct-to-DVD. Keanu Reeves has not been anywhere near where he was a little over a decade ago, coming off a career in the 90s that was astounding when you stop and think about it. From one blockbuster to another, Reeves was a box office action superstar of a new, post-80s generation, where athleticism replaced giant biceps. Then his star faded, thanks to dull disasters like the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still, Street Kings, and Henry’s Crime.
Think about the ten best action films of the 90s. Now, try and leave out Point Break, Speed, or The Matrix
Some – dare I say most? – might be saying “good riddance” to the flat disappearance of Keanu Reeves over recent years. But think about the ten best action films of the 90s. Now, try and leave out Point Break, Speed, or The Matrix. It’s impossible. Point Break has seen a renaissance of late (thanks in part to the awful decision to remake it), but what has grown more endearing about the surfers/robbers California action thriller is the nostalgia of such a creative and well-crafted action picture. Without Keanu’s dry, spacey, stoner FBI agent (with the absolutely brilliant name of Johnny Utah) to balance out the mystical qualities of Patrick Swayze’s Bodie, Point Break would have disappeared.
Similarly, Speed was one of the biggest hits of the packed 1994 summer season, and we all know what a revolution (no pun intended) came along with The Matrix. Sure, the two sequels were a mess, but that blame belongs at the feet of the Wachowskis and their lack of direction with the story. For Keanu, there were films like The Replacements, Sweet November, and A Walk in the Clouds along the way, where the actor failed at a chance to diversify. But look back at Gus Van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho, and you can find all the Keanu acting diversity you need. Now take a look at his performance as the wicked Don John in the highly underrated 1993 Much Ado About Nothing adaptation. The guy has range, but where he belongs is amid a solid action plot.
The 90s ended, The Matrix films ended, Trinity finally died, and Keanu now finds himself in limbo as a 50-year old actor. But the teenage action fan in us would most certainly enjoy a Keanu return. I bring your attention to a film named John Wick, a simple action thriller where Keanu takes revenge on the Russian mob for killing his dog. You read that right, now stop rolling your eyes and consider some positive early buzz surrounding John Wick. It was hailed as a lot of fun at this year’s Fantastic Fest, and early buzz is surprisingly positive. Maybe it’s ridiculous, but the word “fun” is promising. Because the recent Keanu filmography has been sorely lacking in any.
The teenage action fan in us would certainly enjoy a Keanu return. I bring your attention to John Wick, a buzzed-about revenge thriller
Beyond John Wick, Reeves has a number of other films in pre and post-production. In The Whole Truth, he returns as a defense attorney (yes, he was great in The Devil’s Advocate as well), and in Knock Knock, Reeves teams up with horror director Eli Roth. Say what you will about the acting style of Keanu Reeves, but in the right situation he shines and becomes invaluable to the film’s history. The comeback may be slow, it may take time, but early buzz on John Wick suggests a step in the right direction. That, accompanied with an Eli Roth picture and a slate of new films indicates that Keanu Reeves is back on the scene, doing work, and it may not be long before another blockbuster reshapes his late career.
Featured image: Lionsgate/Summit Entertainment
Inset image: 20th Century Fox