Binge-A-Thon: Revisiting Keanu Reeves

Photographs courtesy of lifeaccordingtojamie.com

In the quest to stave off boredom and cabin fever insanity, the rest of the world and I have been cracking into every scrap of bingeable content streaming services have to offer. I have enjoyed offerings like Tiger King and Westworld’s third season, but this abundance of free time has left me with a desire to catch up on media I have missed, forgotten or never made the time to explore. If I am going to be stuck inside, the least I can do is head off the beaten path that is my taste in media. 

For my first outing into the realm of unwatched media, I decided to binge the entire catalogue of actor Keanu Reeves. Ever since the release of the first John Wick, Keanu’s career has dominated the pop culture landscape. It is a startling turn of events, given the latency of Keanu’s career over the past decade. We are truly living in the Keanussance, but I wanted to explore the films that brought us to this point. From his first appearance in Young Blood to his recent voice performance in Toy Story 4, I watched it all and learned more than I ever thought I would. 

I would like to pin my neglect of Keanu’s catalogue on my lack of binge time but the reality of the situation is more complex. My trepidation to watch Keanu’s movies has mostly been a result of the reviews they have received. Critical circles have been quick to dismiss Keanu’s acting, often calling it “stiff” or “emotionless.” I will admit, some of those words are well-warranted, but my deep dive into Keanu’s catalogue brought me a new perspective. 

A lot of people call them cringey (they both kind of are), but I will argue that some of Keanu’s most underappreciated works are Point Break and Speed. For those that have missed these films, Point Break is the story of an FBI agent (Reeves) attempting to get close to and befriend a bank robber (Patrick Swazey). Dripping with homoerotic undertones and featuring a beautiful, bitter ending, this film stands out amongst other 90s fare in that it comes across as an emotional yet thrilling story. Following a period of gruff hypermasculine action flicks in the 80s (Die Hard is still a classic), it is refreshing to see a film that broke that mold in favor of being engaging. Critics may not have been ready for it, but social perspectives have changed a lot. 

For those who have never witnessed Speed, it is pretty much Die Hard but on a bus. Keanu plays a cop who has rescue a bus full of passengers rigged by bad guy Dennis Hopper to explode if its top speed drops below 50 mph. Gripping, suspenseful and high octane, this movie sounds like a return to normal action fare. It most definitely is, but this film displays one of the best elements of Keanu’s catalogue. Rather than take the entirety of the stage for this role, Keanu once again broke action tradition and brought co-star Sandra Bullock into the spotlight. Watching the onscreen chemistry between these two brilliant actors makes this film a great watch, but it is not the duo’s best appearance. 

If you want to step away from Keanu’s action career, I recommend his second film with Bullock The Lake House. Following the romance of two individuals communicating across time, this poignant film is a beautiful meditation on love formed in distance. I will fully admit that I teared up watching this film. The concept may be simple, but the story is enough to keep any romantic fan glued to their seats. 

All told, Keanu Reeve’s film catalogue functions as both an array of wonderful films and a time capsule that captures a weird transition in action movies. I thoroughly enjoyed almost every movie I watched, to some degree. This is not to say that Keanu’s past is without blight. Do yourself a favor and skip Dracula, but do give his other works a watch.