Whoa! Whatever Happened to Keanu Reeves?
Keanu Reeves once seemed on the verge of an excellent acting adventure, but as he approaches his 50th birthday next year, his cinematic career has mostly turned out to be a bogus journey. He started out as convincingly surly teenagers in films ranging from Tim Hunter’s dark River’s Edge to Ron Howard’s sunny Parenthood. But the dude-speak intonations that served him so well in the Bill & Ted movies started to limit his range, as he seemed wildly out of place (and time) in period pieces like Dangerous Liaisons, Much Ado About Nothing and Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
He made a surprisingly credible action hero in 1994’s Speed, then wisely passed on the franchise’s waterlogged sequel, Speed 2: Cruise Control. By 1999, he’d found the mind-blowing role that would redefine his career, Neo in The Matrix, but he probably should’ve skipped the muddled sequel and three-quel. He gave his best performance to date as a violent, wife-beating drunk in Sam Raimi’s The Gift. But he hasn’t done himself any favors with his head-scratching choices since, whether it’s weepy romances (Sweet November, The Lake House), warmed-over sci-fi (The Day the Earth Stood Still), rom-coms (Something’s Gotta Give) or generic action flicks (Street Kings).
He’s all but vanished from the big screen in the past half-decade, appearing only in obscure indies like The Private Lives of Pippa Lee and Henry’s Crime. Now another of these “art” films, Generation Um…, is arriving on VOD in advance of a theatrical release. And it’s certainly not going to turn around his downward career trajectory.
Reeves stars as a New Yorker who embarks on a night of drinking, drugs and sex with a pair of younger women (Adelaide Clemens, of The Great Gatsby and the Sundance Channel’s hypnotic new drama Rectify, and Bojana Novakovic). He steals a video camera and turns it on them, leading to various amateurishly shot revelations. Plus, there are long scenes of Reeves eating a cupcake, wishing himself a happy birthday, and sleeping. (You may join him in a nap.) Most of the snail-paced movie’s wisdom, courtesy of fittingly unknown writer-director Mark Mann, is along the lines of “Shit doesn’t mean shit unless it means shit to you.” As for Generation Um…, this shit doesn’t mean anything to me.
What’s next for Reeves? He’s getting in touch with his half-Asian roots (“Keanu” means “cool breeze over the mountains” in Hawaiian, as every magazine profile of Reeves in the ’90s informed us), making his directorial debut with the martial-arts flick Man of Tai Chi, which he shot in China, and the long-delayed 3D samurai epic 47 Ronin, which was filmed in 2011 and is now scheduled for release at Christmas 2013. And he recently gave his blessing to a remake of Kathryn Bigelow’s 1991 cult surfer pic Point Break. Might he be lobbying to reprise his role as wave-catching undercover FBI agent Johnny Utah? At this point, that could be his next big break.
Can Keanu Reeves recapture his mojo? Post a comment!