Keanu Reeves has undergone a bit of a renaissance in recent years. He’s reminded audiences of his action chops with the stellar John Wick franchise, gone viral through the Sad Keanu meme, and come across as a all-round good egg, with enough tales of his generosity to spark headlines such as “15 reasons fans believe Keanu Reeves is the greatest person ever” and “Is Keanu Reeves the nicest guy in Hollywood?”
Back in the 90s, everybody knew Keanu was awesome. Of course he was, look at the films! CULTPLEX have dug into the archives and found three 90s bangers to prove this, and scheduled them together for an all-day Reeves-a-thon for fans to enjoy.
To kick things off Kathryn Bigelowe’s high-octane Point Break sees Reeves as a rookie FBI agent gone undercover amongst a gang of bank robbing, sky diving surfers led by Patrick Swayze. Rarely screened, this 1991 film has been remade and borrowed from for everything from Hot Fuzz to The Fast and the Furious, but nothing comes close to the original. Amongst the slo-mo shots of So-Cal surf and frenetic action sequences, there’s enough flashes of tragic melodrama, dollops of homoeroticism and moments of sublime to elevate this to top-tier Keanu.
Next, Reeves stars as a Los Angeles cop in 1994’s Speed. The plot — in which a bomb threatens to explode aboard a bus if its speed drops below 50 mph — probably needs little recap. The slightly ridiculous premise is buoyed by slick stunt work and exhilarating set-pieces marshalled by director Jan de Bont. Added interest comes courtesy of the supporting cast which features the star wattage of Sandra Bullock and Jeff Daniels, plus Hollywood bad boy Dennis Hopper menacing as the main antagonist.
A 90s Keanu Reeves marathon could scarcely be considered serious without the actor’s most iconic performance. So, rounding out the event at CULTPLEX is a screening of 1999’s The Matrix. The Wachowski sisters’ science fiction film is a cultural phenomenon that hardly needs introducing at this point. It seemed to rewrite the rules with its heady combination of kung fu, philosophy and slow motion gunplay. Three sequels and an animated television series have followed, but The Matrix remains a high water mark for all involved, and is still revealing layers decades after its release.