Tuesday, December 9, 2008

History Blundered

There are certain careers that need to be given the tiniest nudge when the reach the precipice, not grabbed and held onto for dear life. Let's face it, Keanu Reeves' career peaked with The Matrix, to be followed by a lot of stumbling around in the dark, grasping at roles either far removed from the man or far above his acting ability. Most recently this meant adding his name to the heresy of The Day the Earth Stood Still which I'm quite certain is going to 'stand still' artistically as little more than a heap of dead weight.

If they can't keep their hands off the absolute pinnacle of science-fiction storytelling, then at the very least the corroded minds of Hollywood's power players should have the good sense to keep Keanu Reeves away from one of the single most important stories in Japanese heritage. Unfortunately, such power players clearly haven't actually been watching Mr. Reeves' films or they would know that casting him in a movie telling the tale of the 47 Ronin (according to Cinematical.com) is a cataclysmically bad idea. The one and only thing I will say is that Reeves is an excellent action star, but to those familiar, the story of the 47 Ronin is far more about honor and duty than it is about fighting.

Blood was certainly shed in early 18th century Japan when the 47 Ronin avenged the death of their disgraced master long after his death only to commit mass ritualistic suicide, their duty fulfilled and their master's honor restored at the cost of their own lives. Needless to say, a movie portraying these events would undoubtedly be brutal, violent fun but at the absolute minimum, it must be recognized that no one in the story was white! Even if Reeves were a better than average actor (yes, I think he's an average actor, there are far worse) he would have stood out like an incredibly sore thumb in 1700s Japan.

I simply cannot see Keanu as an honor bound warrior stricken over his master's death and driven by duty to the exclusion of all else. The depth for such a portrayal just isn't there, and what could have been a great action flick with incredible drama is now just going to be a flashy action flick with no heart, no soul and no acting past soulful eyes and throaty vows. I have little to no faith in Hollywood's ability to cast the right actor for the right role.

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