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The best action roles of Keanu Reeves

Writer: Casey Lee


Keanu Reeves is back for more in "John Wick: Chapter 2".


Coming from a slew of teenage and comedy flicks, becoming an action star was not part of Keanu Reeves' career trajectory. However, after dipping his toes in a few action vehicles, with some becoming successful blockbusters (and others attaining notorious cult status), Keanu became the unlikely action hero of the 90s.

Going into the 21st century with a few hits and misses in the action scene, it seems that Keanu has found his foot back in the action game by becoming an iconic landmark in a hotly anticipated action franchise.

Showing that he is really back for the bloody business in "John Wick: Chapter 2", we take a look back at Keanu's rise to prominence as an action star and all-time badass on screen and in life.

Johnny Utah in "Point Break" (1991)

When the role of Johnny Utah was passed on by Matthew Broderick, Johnny Depp, Val Kilmer and Charlie Sheen, the role finally went to Keanu who was set to be the titular character before it was changed to "Point Break". Putting a harder edge to his slacker surfer persona from "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventures", Johnny Utah is an FBI agent assigned to investigate a string of bank robberies committed by the masking-wearing gang of 'Ex-Presidents". Believing the gang to be surfers, Utah infiltrates the surfer community and is eventually recruited to join the gang that he is after. Being the first respected duo before Dom and Brian ("Fast And Furious"), Keanu plays the perfect foil as Johnny Utah to Patrick Swayze's free-surfing Bodhi, and it was here where Keanu gets his first taste of being an adrenaline junkie that got people noticing his potential as an action star.

 Jack Traven in "Speed" (1994)

After a few more years of filling in with dramatic roles including Gus Van Sant's "My Own Private Idaho", the call to action once again reached Keanu to play as SWAT officer Jack Traven in the nonstop thrill ride of "Speed". Trapped on a bus that is rigged to explode if it falls below a certain speed limit, Traven commandeers the bus with calm precision and quick decisions that cements Keanu's name as a viable and bankable action star, turning "Speed" into a commercial success (that even managed to snag a couple of technical Oscars), and making the terrific decision to not appear in its shark-jumping sequel.

Neo in "The Matrix" (1999)

Discovering that he lives inside a sophisticated computer simulation, Thomas Anderson is tapped to escape from "The Matrix" by humans who have managed to shake off the yoke of their robotic masters, only to discover that he is destined to be The One, so he returns to "The Matrix" as Neo to bring the fight to the robotic overlords.

An over the top blend of spectacular visual effects, exciting choreographed fight scenes and mind blowing meta philosophy, Keanu's Neo is the one thing that holds it all together at the pinnacle of his action career, even if the sequels in this series quickly went downhill from there. From the iconic fashion, exaggerated fight moves to the endlessly quotable lines, this is his landmark role that will be compared to his future action roles to come.

John Constantine in "Constantine" (2005)

Adapted from the "Hellblazer" comic books by Alan Moore, John Constantine became one of the earliest characters from the DC universe to have its big screen debut. Damned for Hell and dying with lung cancer, John Constantine is on a mission to banish demons on Earth so that he would be granted entrance to Heaven to repent for his sins. Having being tricked by the Devil in "Devil's Advocate", here Keanu plays Constantine as a force to be reckoned with, fighting demonic forces and saving souls bound for damnation. Despite its middling success that did not expand into its own franchise, Keanu has made Constantine his own, and it would only be fitting for him to reprise this comic book exorcist if he is ever reintroduced back into the DCEU.

Detective Tom Ludlow in "Street Kings" (2008)

Framed for the death of his partner in a gangster shootout, Los Angeles police Detective Tom Ludlow goes to the mean streets of Los Angeles to find the truth, only to find himself entangled in a massive web of corruption within the force. After playing the good cop in his earlier action roles, Keanu gets to be the bad cop in David Ayer's second directorial outing "Street Kings", interrogating and killing street thugs indiscriminately, with pre-Captain America Chris Evans towing along. This is where we can see the hidden and angry side of Keanu, which has many similarities with John Wick.

Cinema Online, 05 February 2017


Related Movies:
John Wick (23 Oct 2014)
John Wick: Chapter 2 (16 Feb 2017)

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