At the beginning of Keanu Reeves' career, I understood what he had to offer, as he was the quintessential stoner dude. He played these teen roles solidly, as he demonstrated in River's Edge and Permanent Record. Then came the wild success of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, which cemented his natural instincts of playing a somewhat dim-witted dude. Nothing wrong with beginning your career playing this type of character, as both Sean Penn and Nicholas Cage broke onto the scene doing the same type of bro. The difference between these actors is that Penn and Cage (not so much lately, though) are capable of bringing many different shades to their movie roles, while Reeves, as much he might try, is still Theodore Logan.
When Reeves has been successful in a film, he has been given a role that allows him not to stretch from this type of character. During the first few years of his career, Reeves was cast well, playing surfer dude types in Point Break and My Own Private Idaho. Then came 1992, when Francis Ford Coppola made Dracula. With a cast featuring Gary Oldman and Anthony Hopkins, it would have seemed to be a slam dunk movie classic... except that Coppola made a casting mistake almost as tragic as when he hired his daughter Sofia for Godfather 3, by choosing Reeves in one of the major roles. Having Keanu Reeves share a scene with Hopkins and Oldman is on par with Jimi Hendrix and Ginger Baker starting a super group, only to have it fronted by Yoko Ono.
Here is the major question I have about Reeves' career. How is that with so many superior choices available has Reeves continued to get major parts in roles that he is woefully ill-equipped to succeed in? He has played a quarterback in The Replacements, a lawyer in The Devil's Advocate, and a doctor in Something's Gotta Give. In these pictures, he was paired with acting giants Gene Hackman, Al Pacino, and Jack Nicholson, respectively. The talents of these actors and some other fine supporting performances made each of these movies watchable, but the laughable casting of Reeves made each scene he was in seem implausible.
Not only is Reeves incapable of playing a character with a job which takes even a modicum of intelligence, but he is just as dismal in a love story. I recently caught on cable, a recent movie he did with Sandra Bullock titled Lake House. In the convoluted romance, Reeves plays an architect. No, this is not a misprint. There is no way I would live in a house, be defended in a court case, have my tonsils taken out or even root for a team that was quarterbacked by Keanu Reeves, but someone in Hollywood continues to cast him in these type of roles. I realize that the 1994 blockbuster Speed made Sandra Bullock a superstar, but thinking that the chemistry between her and Reeves needed to be explored again was misguided at best. The elements that made Speed great was the script, the directing, and the charismatic performances of Bullock and Dennis Hopper. Reeves didn't have to show much more emotion than he had to as Neo in The Matrix.
The Matrix was another movie where the script, special effects, and supporting characters drove the movie along. The Wachowski Brothers did use Reeves' talents perfectly in the first of The Matrix trilogy, though, as the science fiction Blade Runner-like world the film took place in didn't need a lead actor who offered much acting range. The Neo character was robot-like in his presence. Reeves' angular good looks and shock of black hair was an important piece in the gorgeous production design. This is the only adult role I can think of that Reeves' acting moves the story along.
I realize that part of Keannu Reeves' continuing career has to do with him being seen as a bankable star, domestically and foreign. I would argue that few of the successful films he has been in have had much to do with him. I know he wrecks a movie for me, almost every time he appears on-screen. I understood the casting of him as the teen-aged, dim-wit, but I just don't understand how major studios and major directors continue to want to cast him playing characters who would need to be able to portray a modicum of intelligence. PLEASE EXPLAIN Keannu Reeves.