This is where Keanu Reeves proved he could carry a film on his own. Stepping into Speed‘s lead role of Officer Jack Traven, Reeves starred with a then-unknown Sandra Bullock as a cop trying to stop an explosives-rigged bus from blowing up Alan Ruck and that lady you see in everything. The sky was the limit from here as Reeves was established as an A-list action star, which led to some pretty stupid action movies.
But all was forgiven when Reeves took the lead in The Matrix. The Wachowski Brothers‘ love-letter to anime and science-fiction reinvented film-making in the 90’s and reaffirmed Keanu as a box office heavyweight. Originally, the red pill was offered to Will Smith but he turned down the role. Thankfully. I’d much prefer a chilled out everyman surprised to learn he knows karate over a boisterous ass exclaiming how well he knows karate and how he makes it look good. Nicolas Cage also turned down the role which is a shame. If you all got a kick out of seeing Reeves fly, imagine Nic Cage taking flight.
Unable to match the success of The Matrix Trilogy with his follow-up films that did not feature awesome kung-fu and gunplay, Reeves lucked into his biggest role of the last eight years. When the Internet got a hold of a picture of him looking sad while sitting on a bench and eating a sandwich, they went crazy with it. The Sad Keanu meme caught like wildfire, with Photoshopped images of the sullen star in a variety of situations appearing everywhere. It was so prevalent that fans actually began to worry for Reeves’ happiness. Though, he was in good spirits months later when a reporter showed him the meme. He had no idea it had been happening but was pleasantly surprised and honored. Days later, another photo surfaced of Reeves with a goofy, rollerblading helmet on. I think he’s just doing it to mess with us now. He’s the coolest.
They can’t all be winners. Films like Johnny Mnemonic, Chain Reaction, Constantine, A Scanner Darkly, and The Day The Earth Stood Still didn’t prove as memorable. Therefore, we’ll just pretend like they didn’t happen. Somebody please forward that memo to TBS‘s movie schedulers.