Keanu Reeves is back on the screen again this week with 47 Ronin. The 80’s icon’s latest romp is turning out to be a box office flop. The movie could potentially lose $175 million for Universal Pictures due to a horrific holiday weekend opening, taking in only $20 million. There are claims that Universal may only be able to recoup its small marketing budget for the film, not the $175 million in production costs.
Keanu Reeves hasn’t always been box office poison. He has played many characters over the years, from boyish charm to dimwitted teenager to action movie superstar. His film career has spanned nearly three decades he has seen numerous successes. Keanu Reeves is back and here are the top 5 leading roles that he has played.
5. Jack Traven in Speed – This 1994 film was the beginning of Reeves’ successful action movie career. In the movie, SWAT Team Member Jack Traven must thwart a bombing attempt of a Los Angeles city bus. Reeves, with much shorter hair than we are used to seeing, shines in the film, proving his mettle as a future action star. The movie gave him plenty to work with, switching between non-stop action scenes and a little light humor to keep things interesting. His undeniable chemistry with co-star Sandra Bullock certainly helped this film to become a box office success.
4. Johnny Utah in Point Break – This was the first time we get to see Reeves as something other than a bumbling teenager. The 1991 film stars Reeves as FBI Agent Johnny Utah and centers around a group of bank robbers who commit their crimes while wearing masks of former Presidents. Since the FBI suspects the robbers are actually a gang of surfers, Reeves’ Agent Utah is sent undercover to blend in with the surfers and gather information. Playing a surfer boy certainly wasn’t much of a stretch for Keanu Reeves. But he handled both parts beautifully. Reeves has recently been asked if there will be a sequel to the popular movie. Not a chance.
3. Tod Higgins in Parenthood – Without a doubt, this is Keanu Reeves at his level best. The 1991 film wasn’t a starring vehicle for Reeves, but he played his part to perfection. Playing teen goof-off Higgins, Reeves gets to show both is adorable puppy dog side and his serious side. The scenes with a young Joaquin Phoenix are especially touching. Watching Reeves play this role you could see that good things were headed his way.
2. Neo in The Matrix – This 1999 film features Reeves as computer programmer Neo. In the future a simulated reality called “The Matrix” is created. It’s up to Reeves’ character to fight against “The Matrix” and free the human race. Edgy, serious, action packed. Reeves was perfect for the role, which spawned a popular sequel, The Matrix: Reloaded.
1. Ted ‘Theodore’ Logan in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure – The role that made Reeves a star. The 1989 film is pure nonsense, but it worked. Keanu Reeves’ Ted Logan is willing to do anything to avoid being shipped off to military school. In order to pass their history final Bill and Ted must travel through time to really learn history from the men who made it all possible. The film was full of popular catch phrases and heavy metal music. George Carlin’s turn as Rufus didn’t hurt, either. The movie was a box office smash, as was the movie soundtrack. Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey, which came out 2 years later, wasn’t as big of a hit, but Reeves gave another fantastic performance.
Keanu Reeves is back and while not necessarily better than ever, he still exudes the charm that made movie-goers fall in love with him nearly three decades ago. 47 Ronin may not be the box office success that Reeves is used to, but we are glad to see him back on the screen where he belongs.
By Mary Kay Love
Detroit Free Press