Keanu Reeves

Keanu (2016)

When photographer Rell (Jordan Peele) is dumped by his girlfriend, his self-pity party is immediately cancelled when a stray kitten turns up at his door. Taking it and calling it Keanu, Rell finds a new lease of life in his furry companion. However, returning from home after a night at the pictures with his friend Clarence (Keegan-Michael Key), Rell finds his house ransacked and, more importantly, Keanu missing. And so begins the two friends’ journey into the darker side of town to get the little kitty back which sees them cross paths with murderers, gangbangers and Anna Faris.

Directed by Peter Atencio, who headed up all the episodes of the sketch show Key and Peele, Keanu follows a similar path to films such as Pineapple Express and Hot Fuzz, where every day folk get caught up life-threatening situations. Cue lots of screaming, shouting and wondering how to use handguns.

What makes this film stand out from its peers is how dark the film goes so quickly. Starting off with a bloody shootout in an abandoned church, Keanu contains a surprising amount of violence. Take the scene where, after being mistaken for a couple of assassins, Rell and Clarence find themselves caught up in a drug deal that quickly turns into a bloodbath. The scene would be truly shocking if it wasn’t balanced out by Clarence teaching a bunch of gang members about the virtues of George Michael’s Faith.

It’s this dichotomy that works so well in Keanu’s favour; the absurdity of these two middle class men completely out of their comfort zone. Typical of the humour found in their sketch show, Key and Peele deftly switch between jokes about racial politics and the absurdity of action movie tropes. The jokes might not always stick, but there’s always the promise of another one just around the corner.

If you’re a fan of their show or just having a good time in general, then Keanu is certainly one to check out. A laugh out loud comedy, it’s a shame that, at the time of writing this, Keanu didn’t receive a better release in Australia before been shoved straight onto DVD and digital download.

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Street Kings

Television is very good at crime drama, increasingly so over the last ten years. This presents film with a problem, film should (and often is) be superior to television. It should be the at the top of storytelling on a screen. Attracting the best writers, actors and biggest budgets. This is no longer the case with crime drama, television offers a broader canvas and comparable budgets to attract the necessary heavyweights, every series now has a bankable star and a “name” writer. Film should, accordingly up it’s game to stay ahead of it’s little brother. Onto Street Kings then.

Keanu Reeves plays an angst ridden, hero cop with anger issues and a vodka problem as Keanu Reeves. It feels churlish to complain about Reeves’ acting after we’ve collectively let him get away with playing himself made of wood so well for so long. Fortunately as long as he keeps picking genre characters this cliched it really doesn’t matter. Bruce Forsyth could play “crooked cop 101” and this film would still play.

Ever since Training Day Hollywood has tossed three or four of these L.A. based, cop dramas a year in the hope of catching that train again. Well, Training Day deserved it’s Oscar, Washington’s was the standout performance that year, lifting a piss weak film into the stratosphere. Without Washington’s electricity the film’s that followed have been well, piss weak.

Has Street Kings got anything to give it a shot in the arm. It has ethnic stereotypes, rap music, drug deals, liquor store robberies, a million crooked cops and middle aged men talking in movie speak. So far so blah.

However it does have a screenplay by James Ellroy, a man who knows a thing or two about the police department in Los Angeles. He wrote the treatment and the story for a drama taking place in his regular stomping ground of the thirties. Who knows what that film would have looked like because someone decided to update it to the present. It doesn’t take a great leap of imagination to see that in translation this film may have lost it’s zip and heart becoming the stilted genre piece we have been presented with. Every line is familiar, every scenario a remake of one we’ve seen many times. A chance missed perhaps.