The Many "Whoas" of Keanu Reeves
A most excellent retrospective on the monosyllabic man who gave us Ted and Neo.
by Jesse Schedeen
At IGN Stars, we enjoy looking back at our favorite pop culture icons and examining how their looks have changed and evolved over the years. These "Many Looks of..." features have chronicled the costumes of everyone from Batman to James Bond to Lara Croft.
This time, we wanted to do something a little different. Keanu Reeves returned to theaters in a big way, with the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still. This movie has us reflecting on Keanu's many excellent adventures. But rather than admire the variants, we want to honor the "Whoas."
That's right. Keanu Reeves is well known for his portrayal of lovable, absent-minded heroes, and he's uttered the phrase "Whoa!" enough times over the years that it's become something of a cultural phenomenon. In "The Many 'Whoas' of Keanu Reeves," we look back at each and every one of them.
Whoa #1 – Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure
Keanu "whoa"-ed the world with a bang in his first breakout role. He played "Ted" Theodore Logan, an oafish high schooler and one half of the band known as The Wyld Stallyns.
Unbeknownst to Ted and his best friend, Bill S. Preston, Esq., the music of Wyld Stallyns will bring about a future utopia. But they have to ace their big history final first.
Cue Rufus, man of the future and master of the time-traveling telephone booth. When Rufus shows up at the local Circle K, Ted can do nothing but offer a dumbstruck "Whoa!". And so it began...
Whoa #2 – Point Break
"Ted" Theodore Logan was the quintessential ditzy California kid, but he was missing one crucial piece of the puzzle: Teddy don't surf.
Keanu was only too happy to address this shortcoming when he took on the role of FBI agent Johnny Utah in Point Break.Who names their kid Johnny Utah anyway?
Don't ask us why, but for some reason, Mr. Utah needed to go undercover as a surfer to expose a band of robbers. There he encounters the Swayze himself, and the movie pretty much writes itself from there. And when the Swayze's band of hooligans force Utah to jump out of a plane to prove his manliness, what can the poor guy say but "Whoa"?
Whoa #3 – Speed
Keanu's next big role was in an action movie that made only marginally more sense than Point Break. This time Keanu was a police officer named Jack Traves, who was hot on the trail of a serial bomber. When Keanu boarded the bus of destiny, he learned he had to keep moving or risk blowing it all up.
There's a certain life lesson to be had there. There's also a "Whoa" thrown in for good measure. Keanu may have grown older and wiser, but his characters still tended to react the same way to unexpected situations.
Whoa #4 – The Devil's Advocate
Most people think their boss is the Devil. As it turns out, only Keanu Reeves is correct in his suspicions. In the Devil's Advocate, Keanu played Kevin Lomax, an attorney whose boss looked like Al Pacino but was actually Satan himself. So really, that last part of the sentence was redundant.
Now, if it were us, we'd say "Whoa" upon learning our name is "Kevin Lomax." Who want to be named after a real estate company? But in this case, Keanu saved his wow till the very end. He woke up in bed, realized it had all been a dream, and summed the whole thing up perfectly: "Whoa."
Whoa #5 – The Matrix
By this point, it was perfectly reasonable to wonder if life had anything strange and unexpected to offer Keanu that might elicit a "whoa".
After hanging around the Swayze and Al Pacino long enough, everything else in life seems mundane in comparison.
As it turns out, the biggest "whoa" of them all was still to come. In 1999, Keanu exploded back onto the scene in a big way with The Matrix. Like Ted, Keanu's Neo was a messianic figure who was destined to save the world. Unlike Ted, Neo knew kung-fu.
During his training, Neo's teacher Morpheus has to convince the dim-witted warrior that it's possible to leap from one building to another. He instructed Neo to free his mind, and then Morpheus made the leap. Neo responded just as we all knew he would.
His mind was free, alright.
Keanu. Man, myth, monosyllabic legend. Have a favorite "Whoa"? Sure ya do. Vote for it in the poll and drop the mic in the Comments section below, and tell us which Keanu-isms top your list.