March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010
August 2010
September 2010 October 2010
November 2010
December 2010
January 2011
February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018 June 2018 July 2018 August 2018 September 2018 October 2018 November 2018 December 2018 January 2019 February 2019 March 2019 April 2019 May 2019 June 2019 July 2019 August 2019 September 2019 October 2019 November 2019 December 2019 January 2020 February 2020 March 2020 April 2020 May 2020 June 2020 July 2020 August 2020 September 2020 October 2020 November 2020 December 2020 January 2021 February 2021 March 2021 April 2021 May 2021 June 2021 July 2021 August 2021 September 2021 October 2021 November 2021 December 2021 January 2022 February 2022 March 2022 April 2022 May 2022 June 2022 July 2022 August 2022 September 2022 October 2022 November 2022 December 2022 January 2023 February 2023 March 2023 April 2023 May 2023 June 2023 July 2023 August 2023 September 2023 October 2023 November 2023 December 2023 January 2024 February 2024 March 2024 April 2024
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21
News Every Day |

The Beatific Imperfection of Keanu Reeves in The Matrix

Keanu Reeves as Neo in The Matrix.Photo: ©Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection

This article was originally published on February 8, 2019. It has been republished to mark the 25th Anniversary of The Matrix.

Throughout the 1990s Keanu Reeves created a form of action stardom that no other actor has quite achieved before or since — one predicated less on testing the limits of his body than on highlighting its beauty. And 1999’s The Matrix marked the entrancing culmination of all he had been experimenting with during that decade.

Twenty-five years and three sequels later, it is hard to imagine anyone else but Reeves as Neo, the counterculture hacker turned savior. But before he came onboard, directors Lana and Lilly Wachowski considered several others, including Tom Cruise, Nicolas Cage, and Will Smith (who reportedly turned down the role so he could do the widely derided Wild Wild West, one of the greatest mistakes of his career). These actors, at least at the time, hewed closer to a more traditional form of Hollywood machismo. But The Matrix is a film that operates on multiple levels: It’s a cyberthriller of unbridled intimacy, a scalpel-sharp action flick, a curious testament to optimism, and a still-worthwhile study of technology’s all-consuming power on our lives. It needs a lead who can operate on such levels as well.

As an action star, Reeves has repeatedly shown interest not just in the limits of the body and its raw strength, but also in its grace. He isn’t like Tom Cruise, who pushes his body to ever-increasing extremes — leaping out of planes or onto the side of buildings with carefully calibrated aplomb. Nor does he possess the jokey charisma of a Will Smith. When we look at the most towering examples of Hollywood action stars — from the jaunty elegance of Errol Flynn, to the muscle-bound machismo of Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, all the way down the line to the less distinct, glossy statesmen of the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe — Keanu Reeves remains an outlier.

For The Matrix, the Wachowskis coaxed a genuinely transcendent performance from Reeves, while also successfully synthesizing a host of inspirations (from cyberpunk literature to anime classics to various strains of philosophy detailing our notions of consciousness). The results profoundly rewrote the expectations of what an action star could be. Neo’s mournful, curious gaze and joyful compulsion as he learns about the real world brought to the fore the idea that more soulful, willowy folks could carry a hidden lethality — a suggestion new to the American landscape, which often preferred its action stars’ powers conscripted to immensely muscled bodies, with true emotion either nowhere to be found or wrapped in slickly delivered sarcasm. Reeves suggested that an action star should feel, at full tilt.

In the wake of Neo’s slender poise, the notion of the “unlikely action star” became quite common. No longer did action films need to be anchored by chiseled, emotionally limited commandos like Stallone or martial arts experts with expressive charm like Wesley Snipes. An action star could be James McAvoy stumbling headlong into great power and various conspiracies in Wanted or pure maternal fury like Uma Thurman in Kill Bill I and II. The saviors of a film could be as different as Michael Cera’s lanky, perennially awkward protagonist in Scott Pilgrim Versus the World and Matt Damon’s peripatetic amnesiac in The Bourne Identity and its sequels. Think of Kate Beckinsale sauntering and slicing herself a bloody trail in gleaming latex in the Underworld franchise, or Reeves’s previous co-star Charlize Theron magnificently glaring her way through the wildly uneven Aeon Flux and the bombastic Atomic Blonde.

Pre-Neo (top row) and post-Neo. Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures/Photofest (Schwarzenegger); Columbia Pictures/Photofest (Van Damme); Double Negative/@Universal/Courtesy of Everett Collection (Cera); Columbia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection (Macguire)

The melodramatic, FX-heavy superhero origin stories that proliferated throughout the 2000s also owe a huge debt to The Matrix. The film’s entrancing FX showed Hollywood that any actor could be credible as an action star even if they had to do the impossible — flying into the starry night sky, leaping over buildings with ease, or dispatching various foes at such high speeds that their movements blurred, with nary a hair out of place. You could even do it without the months of training Reeves and his co-stars put in to make their physical performances work all the more beautifully. Even those action flicks that operate as portraits of hangdog, middle-aged men with unique sets of violent skills — think Liam Neeson’s Taken and its various imitators — are indebted to how Reeves opened new veins of emotion in the genre. (Undoubtedly the most potent of this latter subgenre is Reeves’s own neon-soaked John Wick franchise.)

More striking though is how much The Matrix and its star influenced the internal lives of action leads going forward. The “get the girl and save the world” model will always exist, but in the 20 years since The Matrix, the inner dimensions of our heroes have expanded. Unlike other action stars, Reeves’s masculinity is fluid, mutable. He often suggests — with a smirk, or glare, or the careful precision of his balletic violence — that the emotional turmoil of his characters is more than just a plot point, but rather a physical reality interwoven into the performance. He’s one of the few male action stars who is also a gracious scene partner. It’s more than just kindness; there’s a sense that he’s completely sure and secure in his own masculinity. It’s why he was able to play characters as disparate as Ted Logan in Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey and Scott Favor in My Own Private Idaho. With Keanu, The Matrix takes on greater shades than merely being a propulsive, slickly engrossing blockbuster. The way he foregrounds Neo’s curiosity and loneliness adds an untold dimension to the film, about what it means to find not just your purpose but your family as well.

Watch as he modulates this curiosity: around Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), it is tinged with the nascent twinge of lust; when he’s in Morpheus’s orbit, it is colored with awe. The Matrix marries the actor’s interests, sensibilities, and background in ways that he would capitalize on in later work. Reeves has British, Chinese, and Native Hawaiian ancestry, and his love of Hong Kong action flicks echoes in later works, like his directorial debut The Man of Tai Chi and the John Wick franchise. With a star as vulnerable as Keanu, The Matrix avoids being a typical Chosen One narrative and instead becomes something more dynamic: a testament to our need for community.

As writer-directors, the Wachowskis carry a potent belief in humanity’s essential value. Whether through the sterile, machine-created world that we recognize as our own or the cataclysmic, gray future Neo finds himself navigating, they remind viewers that our bodies are things of beauty, to be molded, altered, and even transcended in order to reflect our inner desires and realities. Reeves doesn’t just reflect this, but complicates it as well.

Reeves has proven over the roughly 30 years of his acting career to be an essentially generous and curious performer with a near-beatific ability to be utterly present. This is often mistaken for a blank-slate quality. But he is far from blank. He has a roiling inner life, from the moment we meet him in The Matrix — surrounded by the detritus of his largely digital existence and with Massive Attack slinking from his headphones. As we watch him rebound from navigating a maze of cubicles with only the voice of a stranger as his guide to joyfully showcasing Yuen Woo-ping’s ecstatic fight choreography, we feel not only the wonder of this world the Wachowskis have created, but the joy of witnessing a star go supernova.


Редкое природное явление над Москвой и Ярославлем вызывает у людей удивление

Четвертый том в серии ко Дню космонавтики

Cyprus Closed Chess Championship names winners

Trump trial: Jury selection to resume in New York City for 3rd day in former president's trial

'Sticking his thumb in the judge's face': Michael Cohen says $1k gag order fines are joke

Read also

Brown Sugar Mustard Glazed Ham Recipe

Bruins’ Jeremy Swayman Shines In Game 1, Will He Start Game 2?

El Clasico not expected to host large number of Barcelona fans

News, articles, comments, with a minute-by-minute update, now on

News Every Day

Четвертый том в серии ко Дню космонавтики — latest news 24/7. You can add your news instantly now — here

News Every Day

Четвертый том в серии ко Дню космонавтики

Sports today

Новости тенниса

Александрова проиграла Жабер в первом круге турнира WTA в Штутгарте

Спорт в России и мире

Baza: пистолет нашли в машине вице-президента федерации бокса Ингушетии

All sports news today

Sports in Russia today


"Ахмат" одержал волевую победу над ЦСКА со счетом 2:1 в матче РПЛ

Новости России

Game News

Amanita Design выпустила Pilgrims на iOS и Android в обход Apple Arcade

News Every Day

Life On The Green: Jack Nicklaus, golf legends impart wealth of wisdom in Ann Liguori’s new book

Губернаторы России

В АО "Желдорреммаш" введен единый Стандарт системы неразрушающего контроля на производстве

Пять человек пострадали при пожаре в сауне на юго-западе Москвы

Подключение водонагревателя в Московской области

Суд арестовал троих подозреваемых в поставках некачественной продукции ВС РФ

Эксперт Президентской академии в Санкт-Петербурге об эффективных решениях в дорожном строительстве   

Тимати купил бронированный автомобиль за десятки миллионов рублей

Бутман: не стоит обращать внимания на выбранную МОК музыку для россиян на ОИ

Мария Машкова сравнила отца с Полом Маккартни и Куртом Кобейном

Концерт "Орган. TOP 10. Величайшие сочинения" в Петрикирхе

Лучшая теннисистка мира сделала заявление перед матчем с Еленой Рыбакиной

Сложнее некуда! Прямая трансляция и превью матча Рыбакиной против непобежденной чемпионки

Кудерметова и Хао-Чин вышли в финал турнира WTA в Штутгарте в парном разряде

Пятая ракетка мира Пегула не выступит на турнире WTA 1000 в Мадриде

Kub Mash: в Москве водитель шесть раз протаранил машину семьи из Краснодара

Автор хита "Поезда" Женя Трофимов рассказал, почему Барнаул лучше Москвы

Суд арестовал троих фигурантов по делу о поставке несвежих продуктов в ВС РФ

Силы ПВО сбили воздушные шары ВСУ над Московской и Тульской областями

Новосибирские энергетики поделились опытом цифровой трансформации

ЦСКА потерпел сенсационное домашнее поражение в матче с «Ахматом»

Валерий Гергиев – о Псковщине ее творцах: Псковичи должны гордится, что такой гениальный музыкант родился здесь

В Гостином дворе прошел форум «Мы вместе. Спорт»

С чего начать занятия спортом детям с лишним весом: мнение тренера

Эксперт Немкин перечислил главные признаки телефонного мошенничества

В Подмосковье прошла акция «Библионочь-2024»

6-летняя тулячка собирается установить рекорд по оборотам на воздушном кольце за минуту

Путин в России и мире

Персональные новости
Юрий Лоза

Лоза объяснил, почему Лепс выбил телефон из рук фанатки

News Every Day

Четвертый том в серии ко Дню космонавтики

Friends of Today24

Музыкальные новости

Персональные новости