‘Hollywood Mega-Star’ Movie Demerits: Keanu Reeves

Many respected and highly paid professions require their practitioners to be highly skilled and reliable at performing the basic aspects of the craft.

In fact it is fair to say that the better remunerated the profession the greater the expectation of quality and superior performance.

You gotta learn your ropes. Crawl before you walk. That sorta stuff.

And in terms of actors you have to appear in some dogs in the early days…

You wouldn’t go to see a doctor that you knew to be unlicensed – unless you were shot while committing a crime I guess – nor would you opt for a flight piloted by someone who flies as a hobby over a trained airline pilot.

I don’t see why one of the most overpaid career choices on the planet get away scot-free again and again. So the other day in a turbulent bout of genius-ness I came up with a revolutionary concept.

Again.

From the guy who gave the world B-Movie Haiku Reviews and more bad Lindsay Lohan jokes than a late night TV host, OGR proudly presents:

Hollywood Star Acting Demerits

That’s right folks. From now on box-office and Metacritic scores be damned, I am personally making some of the Hollywood lollygaggers accountable for poor decision making and for phoning in performances. Whether the film was straight to DVD or unfairly made a bazillion, if one of the leads screwed the pooch we shouldn’t have to stand
for it.

This process is not designed to worry about the poor hardworking paycheque to paycheque character actors or supporting cast members, if you don’t make the poster on most films in which you appear then the system should eventually either eject you or elevate you to Buscemi-like status (more respected / lower paid). This process is for the guys n gals who normally appear smack dab in the middle of the poster, the guys n gals who are interviewed on red carpets and are driven to various premieres and public appearances to stare blankly at your gushing fans unless cameras are pointed at you.

The System

The system is harsh but fair; everyone starts with the same number of points in the black, a bad performance costs you points depending on factors including:

  • the general stinkiness of the movie
  • whether you were trying or not
  • whether the movie was taking a chance or not
  • what was expected from the movie, a big budget stinker counts worse than a low budget indie stinker
  • how long it has been since your last bona fide quality film
  • whether you are Shia Le Bouf

Once you lose a point or points there is only one way to make it back – no regaining points after a period of time here – the only way to regain points on your license is to earn them through solid performances in decent films. Again being ‘adequate’ or even merely ‘good’ isn’t going to cut it here in the real world, adequacy and goodness are expected not lauded, you really need to pull something out of the bag to justify me tacking a point or two back onto your sheet.

To summarize; everyone starts with a clean sheet and twelve shiny points, the early movies in a star’s career are treated as Learner’s permit freebies. It is only when they strike big that the burden of consistent worthiness comes crashing down upon their shoulders.

In the last years we have looked at the poster boy for bad decisions Nicolas Cage, the poster boy for not trying Adam Sandler and the poster boy for trying without trying (cop that Yoda!) Will Smith.

Then, Nicole Kidman, Kate Beckinsale and the one and only Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Now, as for the headliner for this ‘Driver’s Test’, we have a guy who I don’t think has EVER been thought of as an ‘actor’s actor’. But He was certainly at one time a Hollywood Mega-Star, that much is without doubt.

Ladies and Gents, Mr Ted ‘Theodore’ Logan himself;

keanu-woah-300x300Keanu Reeves… 

I feel for Keanu (Canoe) Reeves. It’s not like he asked to be a big super-duper-star. It’s not like he wanted to be Hollywood’s Most Woah-nted. Hell, he even opted to be the shoe gazing bass player in his shitty post grunge band, not the lead.

So the blame for an ever-increasing pile of god-awful films can’t fall at Canoe’s duct-tape repaired (but ever so fashionably aged) boots… Can it?

Thinking.

Thinking.

Not really thinking.

… Thinking about pizza.

Back to thinking about Canoe for at least a couple minutes. Using the sports professional’s analogy; if you’re paid X MILLION per year/film, then you better fucking care. Care at least as much as the spectator/viewer does in laying down their hard earned cash when indirectly (but directly) financing your career. It’s a hard reality but without viewers Canoe or Random Sportsperson don’t exist.

So I guess in a macabre way, it’s on Keanu (key-ah-noo) to make sure all is well onscreen, or at very least you give it your best shot.

If you can’t take the heat, get the hell off of The Matrix.

keanu-reeves-tai-chi-2‘There is no Spoon’:
The rise to mega-stardom

After a short period as the somewhat lovable doofus slacker type, headlined by an attention grabbing turn in Parenthood and of course the Bill and Ted films, Keanu ascended at an astronomical rate and enjoyed an amazing period of success. Starting with Speed and quickly followed by Point Break and a few lesser films that nonetheless made sufficient money and found an audience, showing him as capable of carrying a film.

Of course, Canoe made Neo his signature role in The Matrix.

Directed by the Wachowski brothers – later siblings – The Matrix was a revelation that redefined sci-fi and action films, with ‘bullet time’ now a staple and the hallway destruction sequence replicated frequently but never bettered. Neo was and remains a cult hero. The Matrix is still  pored over by vinyl clad obsessives, and at the time Keanu Reeves could practically write his own cheque…

But just to be really, really sure, Canoe agreed to bust out the two Matrix sequels before worrying too much about the rest of his career. I think in retrospect he might wish he could revisit this decision, for two reasons; 1/ the two Matrix sequels weren’t much chop, and (as the next thousand odd words will illustrate) 2/ he really should have spent more time worrying about his career.

http://oneguyrambling.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/McLovin-Driver-s-License-superbad-641196_417_266.jpgNonetheless 90s Keanu was the Poster Boy for So Hot Right Now, a man who tried so hard not to be cool that he simply had to be cool. A guy who didn’t care what anyone else thought, because all that mattered was the music… or something. As with all of our applicants, Johnny Utah his 12 points and use our retrospective  fine system of 1 through 3 point demerits depending on the severity of the transgression. General adequacy and strong performances are not praised unnecessarily here, merely expected from someone who makes millions without ever breaking a sweat.

Believe it or not but I started this edition a few months before John Wick arrived on screen. Then I got too damn depressed after watching these first couple films that I cracked it and left the article idle for a long while. I probably would have finished it if John Wick sucked, but it was so surprisingly good that it felt mean bagging out Neo in what turned out to be a minor – and yet to be validated – resurgence.

But now not only is John Wick 2 being made for early next year, but it seems it will be part of a trilogy, and not only that but now fifty plus year old Keanu Reeves has a half dozen other projects in the pipeline. If some of them are good I might never publish this.

Knock Knock was mediocre, so here goes. Let’s see what John Wick did in the fifteen years before he was John Wick…

replacements_ver3The Replacements

Arriving just after The Matrix made him a superstar, The Replacements shows that even Reeves at his most loose is still… well kinda stiff and lacking charisma. This is a god awful Major League rip about the goofy crew that step in when an NFL team strikes, only it misses every single target, despite having low expectations from the get-go.

If this is how much ‘fun’ sports can be with amateurs who bend the rules, then Lord Almighty please let there always be bland, dry professionalism in sport.

Verdict: (Maximum) 3 Points deducted.           Points remaining: 9

gift_ver1The Gift

An undeniably solid cast and a director who at the time was seen as a ‘Can’t Miss Kid’ thanks to the first Spider-Man trilogy. Reeves taking the role of an unlikable character with a license to go for broke, and Katie Holmes giving the little ‘Holmies’ some air.

And yet the film is still only barely worth chasing up.

Verdict: 0 Points deducted.           Points remaining: 9

sweet_novemberSweet November

Look I sorta, kinda care about being thorough, but I don’t like rom-coms in the first place, and I can’t see that changing with a film with a 16% approval on Rotten Tomatoes and 27% on Metacritic. And besides, I think a quote that labels Reeves as a ‘sort of human black hole on screen’ just about does my job for me.

Still, in the absence of genuine first hand evidence, I’ll be nice.

Verdict: 1 Point deducted.           Points remaining: 8

hardball_ver1Hardball

But I did watch this one, and while it is essentially a rip off of his own The Replacements, only with a bitty-ball baseball team that he would begrudgingly coach instead of play with, it is still a fast train to Dullsville. Just without as big a crash at the destination.

It’s ironic that the film revolves around a loser who takes a crappy job just to get paid, as that is what it looks like Reeves himself did here.

Verdict: 2 Points deducted.           Points remaining: 6

matrix_reloadedThe Matrix Reloaded

Two and a half hours of proving the first film just might have been a fluke (and the Wachowskis have spent another 15 years driving that point home). More vinyl, more powers for Neo, more Agent Smiths for him to battle, more budget to do it with. Far less entertainment value. Far too much underground sweaty dance parties.

Look in truth he had to do a sequel. Who knew it would be like this?

Verdict: 0 Points deducted.           Points remaining: 6

matrix_revolutions_ver2The Matrix Revolutions

When Reloaded was all about the ‘doing’, Revolutions was all about ‘talking’. Speech after speech yakking up just how important and pivotal this all is, and how failing will be such a disaster, followed by the inevitable stand-off that was more relief than climax.

I was once again nice above, but if you don’t have the material you shouldn’t stretch things out to a trilogy.

Verdict: 1 Point deducted.           Points remaining: 5

somethings_gotta_give_ver5Something’s Gotta Give

Like I’m going to watch Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton find geriatric love while Reeves (I assume) looks on? I couldn’t find a single reference to Reeves in any of the Metaritic quotes I spent 14 seconds scanning…

…Shit I’ll give you a pass if it means I don’t have to spend any more time pretending I care.

Verdict: 0 Points deducted.           Points remaining: 5

Sad-Keanu‘Sad Keanu’: A Stalled Career

The Matrix sequels didn’t kill a career. And even in a dud film co-starring with Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton isn’t something to be ashamed of, but it is fair to say that a career was at a crossroads.

Chances would be taken.

thumbsuckerThumbsucker

The imdb.com summary, verbatim and in full; “Justin throws himself and everyone around him into chaos when he attempts to break free from his addiction to his thumb.”

When it came to reviewing this I couldn’t even find it. Keanu, there might be a thing as trying too hard to escape your image.

Verdict: 1 Point deducted.           Points remaining: 4

constantine-620x916Constantine

I might be the only one here, but I very much like Constantine. Furthermore I wish there were more. Could there be a more perfect role for everyone’s favourite slacker than a deeply depressed, potentially suicidal killer of demons?

This is the rare dark comic-book character that wasn’t artificially lightened for the big screen. It’s an unfair world in which we live where there is a Horrible Bosses 2 but no follow up to Constantine.

Verdict: 0 Points deducted*.           Points remaining: 4

* In fact, kudos earned…

scanner_darklyA Scanner Darkly

A very stylish, even more confusing, infinitely more pretentious, mess. Something for Downey Jr, Ryder, Harrelson and Reeves to point to when asked about their ‘indie cred’.

Verdict: 0 Points deducted.           Points remaining: 4

1848_7860.1 sheet_revThe Lake House

I’m noticing a pattern here; a budgeted film, an indie film, a rom-com. This time Reeves moves on from Charlize Theron to Sandra Bullock (I’d call that downsizing) in a film my wife told me was about a ‘magic mailbox’.

Sure, sounds awesome. Gee I’m being nice here…

Verdict: 0 Points deducted.           Points remaining: 4

street_kings_ver2Street Kings

I’m sure I’ve seen this one, but I look at the blurb and the summaries and for the life of me I cant remember it. This might be the one film on this list that I go out and watch.

Haven’t yet though.

Verdict: 0 Points deducted.           Points remaining: 4

day_the_earth_stood_stillThe Day the Earth Stood Still

Ouch. Not only can I remember not one moment of my viewing from two years back, but until I put this list together I didn’t know the film existed. And I’ve seen it!

That probably makes more sense when I see my review at the time renamed it ‘The Two Hours my Pulse Stood Still’. This is horrendous.

Verdict: 3 Points deducted.           Points remaining: 1

private_lives_of_pippa_leeThe Private Lives of Pippa Lee

So very private no-one saw it.

Verdict: 0 Points deducted.           Points remaining: 1

Look I cant keep ignoring these misdemeanours…

henrys_crime_ver3Henry’s Crime

Well if Keanu Reeves and Vera Farmiga can’t sell a film about a toll booth operator mistakenly imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit, then I don’t know what will.

The fact is I have never heard of this film. And neither have you. Another fact is that it recouped less than 1% of its 12 million dollar budget at the box-office. Ouch.

Verdict: 0 Points deducted.           Points remaining: 1

We cannot keep pretending none of this happened sir.

generation_umGeneration Um…

Generation Um… was this supposed to be a film?

Verdict: 0 Points deducted.           Points remaining: 1

Mr Reeves, are you playing us for fools?

man_of_tai_chiMan of Tai Chi

Keanu got tired of looking bored in other director’s films, so he decided to look bored in a film of his own. Surprisingly enough he picked a martial arts film, and somehow managed to find a lead actor even less charismatic than he.

The fight scenes are adequate. The plot derivative and predictable, as is the very nature of the genre, and the film is competent without being remarkable in any way. That said, it’s still much better than what he did next.

Verdict: 0 Points deducted.           Points remaining: 1

47-ronin-nihon-poster47 Ronin

You can’t expect a revival from something already dead on arrival. This might have started out with Big Budget fantasy epic dreams, but was quietly released with little fanfare and quickly sank without trace.

At the time I took the opportunity to introduce Keanu to the Nicolas Cage Zone.

Verdict: 1 Point deducted.           Points remaining: 0

Mr Reeves kindly await the correspondence from our Head Office confirming your license’s cancellation.

john_wickJohn Wick

We finally found out what makes Keanu angry. It’s either stealing his car and killing his late wife’s dog, or appearing in a dozen or so disappointing films in a row.

One of those.

Whichever. Please someone buy Mr Wick another pet and pay someone to rile him up!

Whatever the reason, I’d like to see Keanu get cinematically angry far more often, as the era of Sad Keanu has not been a fruitful one.

Verdict: 0 Points deducted *.           Points remaining: 0

* More kudos.

knock_knock_ver5Knock-Knock

Keanu is ‘Strangered’ in the most T&A way possible, a given seeing as sleazy and lazy director Eli Roth was behind the camera.

This was Keanu’s shot at maxing the notoriety of newly minted John Wick. It even had a theatre release here in Australia. Not bad for a sloppy one note ‘ho(me) invasion’ flick.

There’s been worse, but this would not have made ripples a decade ago.

Verdict: 0 Points deducted.           Points remaining: 0

Mr Reeves our records say you have no points left, but as the paperwork is yet to arrive we must reluctantly allow you to continue on as normal. Carry on Sir… for now.

In Summation

keanu-reeves-whoaThe fact is Canoe has carved out quite the career even despite the last fifteen years of ennui. The problem with Mega-Stars is once they reach the top it’s very hard to sidle back into the shadows. The public think if you can no longer carry a film you’re a loser.

The only films Canoe has headlined since Matrix have failed or underwhelmed of both. It’s not always his fault, he didn’t twist anyone’s arm to provide him leading roles, and if the image is true he isn’t likely to be outsmarting casting agents – or his gardener for that matter.

That said, I really like two; Constantine and John Wick. I own and rewatch both on Blu-ray. I don’t own any of his so called ‘signature roles’ including The Matrix. (I do have Bill and Ted as a guilty pleasure.)

If we’re kind and grant Reeves ‘headliner’ status from 1989’s Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure – which would be exceedingly kind – then he enjoyed a solid decade until 1999’s The Matrix, with Point Break, My Own Private Idaho, Speed and Dracula all varying degrees of successful. But he never had a golden run of four or five unmitigated classics like Mel Gibson or Arnie or even Bruce Willis.

Keanu Reeves was a victim of his own success to a point. Regardless of what people think of him now the fact is he was he at one point and has built immense name recognition the world over. Filmmakers know familiar faces can sway lazy moviegoers, and this pads the ticket buying stats. If you have a mediocre product already, it makes more sense to cast a drawcard over an up and comer. It just does.

Keanu Reeves doesn’t draw like he once did. If you’re going to be known for something Mr Reeves, please let it be Angry Keanu instead or Sad Keanu. Reeves sure ain’t a Mega-Star anymore, but John Wick might be the lasting character that keeps him on the big screen for a while to come…

John Wick 2 coming early 2017. Besides,

…it’s not like his other movies clog the theatres for long in any case.

OGR

About OGR

While I try to throw a joke or two into proceedings when I can all of the opinions presented in my reviews are genuine. I don't expect that all will agree with my thoughts at all times nor would it be any fun if you did, so don't be shy in telling me where you think I went wrong... and hopefully if you think I got it right for once. Don't be shy, half the fun is in the conversation after the movie.
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