From 'The One' to 'John Wick': Keanu Reeves and the action genre

Feasey, R (2022) 'From 'The One' to 'John Wick': Keanu Reeves and the action genre.' In: Gerrard, S and Middlemost, R, eds. Gender and action films 1980-2000: beauty in motion. Emerald, London, pp. 199-212. ISBN 9781801175074

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Although there are a number of hybrid tropes and cross-over conventions that relate to contemporary action cinema, broken down to its most rudimentary components, the genre places its cinematic hero in scenes of ritualised violence or conflict, with the intent of showcasing both athletic mastery and aesthetically pleasing physiques for interested and invested audiences. In as much as it is difficult to define the contemporary genre, the role of the action hero is clear in all permutations. Indeed, there is little question or query about who or what makes for a popular and long-standing action star. After all, names such as Stallone, Schwarzenegger and Statham have become inextricably linked to the genre in question. While there is much to consider here in relation to the muscles and power of these hard-bodied heroes in sweaty vests or form fitting t-shirts, there is another iteration of masculinity, a different and more agile physique, a more refined sartorial code, that has quietly overtaken these macho figures as the site of contemporary action, and that figure is Keanu Reeves. With this in mind, this chapter will examine the ways in which popular media reviewers foreground star image, acting, movement, the body and performance in order to position Reeves as an action star removed from the physical excesses of bulkier, slower and less agile men who continue to perform in the genre around him.

Item Type: Book Chapter or Section
Keywords: Keanu Reeves, masculinity, motion, beauty, action, body
Divisions: Bath School of Art, Film and Media
Date Deposited: 11 Jul 2022 15:50
Last Modified: 11 Jan 2023 16:07
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