Keanu Reeves is confident newest film will pull him from recent box office slump
by Steven DiCarlo
Keanu Reeves' career was expected to take off after starring in the incredibly successful Matrix series films, but negative reviews for films like Constantine, The Day the Earth Stood Still and 2013's box office flop 47 Ronin have limited the 50-year-old actor's commercial success. Reeves' latest attempt to prove he can still carry an action film will come in this weekend's John Wick, which is already receiving impressive early reviews.
Reeves has spent much of the past five years starring in and directing the action drama Man of Tai Chi, which Box Office Mojo reports only earned a little over $100,000 at the box office. Despite the failure of most of the films he has made in the past decade, Variety executive editor Steve Gaydos believes Reeves deserves credit for trying out so many unique roles and films.
"He's been doing things he's passionate about, taking chances. This is a man who is less obsessed with staying in the winner's circle than other actors like him,"said Gaydos, who went on to praise the makers of John Wick for entrusting the film's starring role to Reeves. "You have to go back 10 years to find a Keanu Reeves film that worked commercially. Someone finally said let's find the right vehicle to put him front and center to kick some ass again."
In the film, Reeves portrays a reluctant assassin drawn back into the killing game, in an attempt to track down the gangsters that took everything from him. Rather than allowing Reeves to resemble the Matrix character which made him famous, directors David Leitch and Chad Stahelski put him in a killer suit and a beard for the film to give him a fresh look.
"This is not the Keanu of Matrix, this is the Keanu of John Wick ," says Stahelski, who was his stunt double on The Matrix. "He's got a hard look."
Reeves had to learn judo and jiu jitsu for the choreographed fight scenes in the film, and the directors both praised him for his ability to pick the fighting techniques up so quickly.
"When you have a guy like Keanu who trains his butt off, he can do long sequences — like 12 or 14 moves — and we don't have to cut," said Leitch. "Keanu is the type of actor that can pull that off."
John Wick scored 100% on RottenTomatoes.com’s initial reviews, and Paul Dergarabedian of box office tracking firm Rentrak believes that if the film proves to be a success, Reeves' career may still reach the heights audiences expected it to after the Matrix series.
"One pivotal role can change everything," said Dergarabedian. "Suddenly, someone who has cooled off can become a white-hot property. We'll see."