I’m very happy to continue my stint as collaborator over at Alternate Ending, a very fine website with great film reviews and a delightful podcast. This month, I tackle one of the great questions of our time: how did Keanu Reeves go from being considered a bad actor, to one of our most beloved movie stars? Below is an excerpt, and a link to the full article.
Point Break Live, the successful stage parody of Kathryn Bigelow’s 1991 action classic Point Break, starts out with the audience deciding who will play the main character (undercover agent Johnny Utah, a role originated by Keanu Reeves). Audience members volunteer to play the role, while the other patrons clap for who they like best. The conceit of having an “average joe” play Utah is both fun and cruel. The implication here is that Keanu Reeves’s performance is so stiff and awkward that it would be best replicated by a non-professional pulled from the audience. Point Break Live opened in 2003, around the time I first learned who Keanu Reeves was, and when the popular opinion was that he was a bad actor.
That’s not the popular opinion any longer. My sense is that we are living in extremely pro-Keanu times. My Twitter feed loves Keanu: I see him in pictures, memes, and GIFs almost every day. Now, we all know Film Twitter is rarely representative of the world at large, but people have been shelling out good money to see Keanu Reeves lately, especially in the John Wick movies. The enthusiasm is there. So much so that the release of John Wick: Chapter 2 came with articles such as “Keanu Reeves is a perfect
action star” (from Vox) and “Why Keanu Reeves is Low-Key the Coolest Actor in Hollywood.” (from GQ) I think it’s safe to say the tide has turned in Keanu’s favor, but how did it happen?