When you take a gander at the assortment of action stars that were so prominent throughout the 80s and 90s, there are the obvious big names that grab you. Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Willis, Van Damme and Segal all had their hits within, let’s be honest a back catalogue of movies that had more than enough misses as well. With Stallone where he had Rambo, there was The Specialist, Schwarzenegger had his highs with the first two Terminator movies but Raw Deal is far from that kind of quality and to be honest, it’s hard to find a Segal and Van Damme film that is actually a good movie. I mean Under Siege and Bloodsport are so bad that they’re fun, but still….they are pretty shit.
Mentioning the numerous entries in these action stars catalogue of movies compared to their overall quality is all for a reason. This is because there is one actor, who hasn’t made nearly as many action movies as the aforementioned examples, but the quality of those movies don’t let up.
I am talking about the immortal, undying, lord of ‘Whoa’, Keanu Reeves.
Now we all know that Keanu isn’t the greatest actor of all time. He has thrown out some of the woodiest of wooden performances in some high profile films. Nothing cracks me up more than his English accent in Bram Stokers Dracula, but we aren’t looking at his acting chops. Keanu has had a varied career in terms of the kind of movie genres that he has worked on, from comedy in The Bill & Ted films, to horror with the recent Neon Demon, so compared to an action movie workhorse like for example Segal, his action movie list is slightly small. The quality across that list though is so high, I can argue that each one is an example of ground-breaking, original action that has maybe in matched, by the old guard of the action flicks, but not surpassed.
Now for the movies
First up, Point Break, the best extreme sports action movie out there. Sorry Vin Diesel, xxx just didn’t come close. The film is one of the prettiest to look at out of any example of action films out there. The surfing scenes are poignantly shot and juxtaposed to the bank heist and sky-diving, show the spiritual side of riding the waves that Patrick Swayze’s Bodhi keeps going on about, in between bouts of dressing up like a former president and gun bucking bank tellers. Keanu plays the awesomely named Johnny Utah who jumps into the action role well (quite literally during the finale. ‘Parachute Keanu?’ ‘Nah mate ill firm it’) and he has some pretty cool cop banter with the predictably mental Gary Busey, another action movie reg who now that I think of it, deserves his own list. But anywho, this movie still stands as a tour de force of stunt work and cinematography and is a great first foray into the action genre to put on Keanu’s C.V.
Then came Speed, the movie that launched Sandra Bullocks career as high as a bus that can’t drive under 50 mph that has just jumped an unfinished highway. Funnily enough that sums up the movie, but the trio of Keanu’s Jack Traven (another kick-ass name), the perfectly maniacal Dennis Hopper playing the bad guy Howard Payne and Sandra Bullocks Annie, the wrong place, wrong time bus passenger who has to keep her foot on the gas to stop the bus blowing, manage to elevate the whole show. Speed is probably the purest example of an action movie that Keanu Reeves has acted in, as the other examples in this article are spliced with Sci-fi, Crime and Martial arts. It’s dumb, one bad scenario to another fun that doesn’t let up till the end, where Reeves throws the classic one liner at Hopper ‘Yeah, well I’m taller’. The line doesn’t make much sense by itself, of course you’re taller Keanu, it’s obvious! So watch the movie so I don’t have to spoil it here.
Just before the millennium dawned, an exciting Sci-fi actioner that mixed leather clad fly kicks with overlord robots, that have created a whole new reality so they can use humanity as batteries. A mixture that everyone didn’t know they wanted till they got it but that’s what The Matrix delivered. The Matrix was a massive moment in pop culture for a while, parodies abounded and referential material was thrown about that nearly everyone got. Keanu plays Neo, the one to free humanity from their induced ignorance to the real dystopian world. How does he go about that? By slow-mo kicking the shit out of anyone who gets in his way. Along-side Morpheus and Trinity played by Laurence Fishburne and Carrie-Anne Moss respectively, and a crew of similarly strangely named characters, Keanu goes from revolutionary action set piece to set piece, slow motion flip to slow motion kick, and looking damn cool while doing it.
The most recent entry into Keanu Reeves list of awesome action heroes is John Wick from the self-titled movie. No one expected this movie to be as big as it was, but it is testament to how fun it is to watch Keanu shoot a bunch of gangsters in the face in many cool and inventive ways, because….they killed his dog and stole his car. It sounds like a premise that is way too simple. The bad guys mess with the wrong guy, in this case John Wick, a retired hitman of legendary and fearsome reputation (not so legendary that the son of a Russian mob boss has heard of him though), but the movie is so stylishly shot and the ‘gun-fu’ hijinks throughout have really been a shot in the arm in the action genre needed. It’s also tempting to put the simply titled sequel John Wick: Chapter 2 on this list of movies, that also help make the argument that Reeves is technically the top action star, but to be honest, by the time John Wick: Chapter 3 hits the theatres, the entire John Wick trilogy will be a damn good part of whole.
So there you go, statistically speaking, Keanu Reeves is the best action star at this moment. Feel free to disagree in the comments, but ive got the facts to back me up…COME AT ME PEOPLE!!!