Keanu 2016

keanu_redbandtrailer1Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele have been such a boon to comedy through their Comedy Central work, it’s easy to see why a feature film would be a no brainer. And while it doesn’t have the punch of some of their sketches, Keanu is one of 2016’s best comedies, pitting two mild-mannered, middle class dorks into a gangster world which they unexpectedly take to. Their mission is to track down the missing moggy of the title, running into Method Man as a gangster and Anna Faris as herself along the way. A few sequences jump out, like the one in which Rell and Clarence attempt to teach a crew of aspiring gangsters how to act on the street, and there’s some commendable verve in the tension generated as the friends get over their depth. Ultimately, the two-guys-who-look-like-tow gangsters motifs is an ancient one which Key and Peele manage to blow some life into, and bodes well for future cinematic escapades.


John Wick 2014


Always a good mover, Keanu Reeves’s combination of Zen-blankness and physical mobility made him a perfect action lead in Speed, The Matrix; Chad Stahelski and David Leitch‘s thriller gives him plenty of opportunity to show his skills. Taking a lead from the writings of Alistair McLean, we’re talking about tough ex-agents rather than genetically modified soldiers. John Wick is a man on a mission, to revenge the death of his dog, which was given to him by his dying wife. Wick rips through hotels, nightclubs, and a kill-a-minute as he rages through a rigorous, glorious HR cull of various crime organisations, with nice work in support from Willem Dafoe, Dean Winters, Ian McShane and Michael Nyquist.

Dangerous Liaisons 1988


Adapting a epistolary novel is no easy task; the Choderlos de Laclos novel taken on by writer Christopher Hampton for his stage success explores a complex narrative from a number of different points of view, with no narrator and a series of deceptive letters instead. Although Milos Forman’s Valmont was underrated, Stephen Frears does a pin-sharp job with this period film, with Glenn Close a scheming Madame de Merteuil, Michelle Pfeiffer an innocent caught in the crossfire, and John Malkovich sporting several wigs at once as the playboy the Vicomte de Valmont. Uma Thurman, Keanu Reeves and Peter Capaldi all contribute neat work, and the labyrinthine ways in which the characters snare each other, and eventually themselves, makes for a classy, engrossing romp through sexual misadventure.!overview/9117/Dangerous-Liaisons

Dracula 1992


Francis Ford Coppola scored a significant hit with his baroque version of Bram Stoker’s classic vampire tale, helped by a wonderfully over-the-top performance by Gary Oldman. Whether under an immense powdered wig or strutting around England in a top hat and shades, Oldman exudes menace while providing plenty of off-beat comedy. While the rest of the cast are somewhat mismatched in acting styles; Keanu Reeves is a stiff Jonathan Harker and his British accent has been the subject of much merriment, as has Anthony Hopkins as Van Helsing. But Coppola pulls together a rich and sumptuous production design, from the shadow-play opening to the various silent movie in-camera tricks to capture the supernatural action. Winona Ryder looks great as Mina, and the romantic link between her and The Count is cleverly set up in a prologue that establishes their thwarted history. It’s more Coppola than Stoker, but with the likes of Tom Waits and Monica Bellucci in support, the result is consistently exciting to watch.

Youngblood 1986


Writer/director Peter Markle scored a cult his with this ice-hockey drama, with Rob Lowe smoldering as Dead Youngblood, a hit-headed player who is tamed by the love of Jessie (Cynthia Gibb). Long before their Point Break collaboration, Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves are amongst the fellow players, and also the action follows conventional sport-movies plot-points, the on-the-ice fisticuffs are delivered with panache. Markle based this Canadian-set drama on his own experiences as a player, and the result is a cut above most the average underdog-makes-good scenario.