Total Film (UK), September 2005


Total Film Legends #6

Rounding up a seminal CV. This month, Keanu's classics...


Between Crispin Glover's unhinged oddball and Dennis Hopper's doll-screwing drug dealer, Reeves did well to make an impression as Matt, the stoner shaken out of his stupor when one pal murders another. Haunted and melancholy, he's the quiet shred of conscience at the heart of Tim Hunter's unsettling study of adolescent alienation.


Keanu's first defining role, time travelling surfer dude Theodore 'Ted' Logan (IT'S TED 'THEODORE' LOGAN, NITWITS. - Ani), became as much of a curse as a blessing, audiences failing to make a distinction between the genial, floppy-haired oaf and the actor playing him. It's the physicality that sells it, Reeves revelling in his nimrod alter-ego's gangling ungainliness.


Action Keanu is born in Kathryn Bigelow's deliriously entertaining thrill-ride, his Fed finding the yin to his yang in Patrick Swayze's bank-robbing adrenaline junkie. Whether running, surfing or sky-diving, not onen inch of toned musculature and pretty-boy features is left unleered at in this subversive pulse-quickener.


Though River Phoenix's angelic presence remains the film's most indelible image, it's Keanu's bold turn that motors Gus Van Sant's dream-like tale of damaged kids struggling on the seedy fringes of society. As the slumming rich kid who befriends Phoenix's narcoleptic gay hustler, Reeves exudes charisma and patrician assurance.

DRACULA (1992)

Though lambasted for his woeful English accent, Keanu's wary Jonathan Harker provides an otherwise worthy foil for Gary Oldman's decadent Transylvanian bloodsucker in the superior first half of Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker adap. He's marginalised in the second, but the horror he's witnessed remains etched on those striking Eurasian features.

SPEED (1994)

Keanu gifts Jan de Bont's actioner with a performance as streamlined as its high-concept pitch. When not crawling up elevator shafts, hanging under buses or surfing subway cars, he finds time to develop a fascinating antagonism with Dennis Hopper's mad bomber.


Moral ambiguity comes easily to Keanu, that blank-faced inscrutability offering no clues as to which way he'll jump. He's perfect for the role of Kevin Lomax, the lawyer seduced by Al Pacino's Wall Street Lucifer in Taylor Hackford's lurid Faustian melodrama.


The Wachowski's warped sci-fi universe gave Keanu the biggest hit of his career. The role of Thomas 'Neo' Anderson has become his signature: freedom fighter, Messiah and cyber-Bruce Lee, all rolled into 'The One'.


Fans of the Hellblazer comic-books were outraged when Reeves was cast as John Constantine, their blond and very English hero. Newcomers to the character, however, were happy to swallow his brooding portrayal of the chain-smoking demon-hunter trying to blag his way past the Pearly Gates.


As the hippy dentist who uses hypnotism to wean teenager Lou Taylor Pucci off his big-baby habit, Reeves reveals a talent for comedic underplaying in MIke Mills' wry indie. A welcome reminder, too, that he's as good a supporting player as he is a Hollywood heartthrob.



River's Edge , Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure , Point Break , My Own Private Idaho , Bram Stoker's Dracula , Speed , Devil's Advocate, The , Matrix, The , Constantine , Thumbsucker

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