Whereas last time we had the displeasure of experiencing the screaming yelps of bizarre man-poodle Chris Tucker, today, in Part 2, we bare witness to a man who's performance is almost the exact opposite. In fareness to him, it was a difficult decision to pick him out from the rest of the cast of the particular movie we're examining here, since his fellow cast members all seem to be desperately trying to out-ludicrous each other. However, they seem to be doing it deliberately. This movie is full of ham; what else would you expect from a movie that features Gary Oldman, Anthony Hopkins, Richard E. Grant and Cary WE'RE MEN! WE'RE MEN IN TI- IGHTS Elwes? But wheras these veterans seem to fully realise that they're in what is little more than a pantomime, our boy here may actually be taking things a little too... shall we say, intensely? He is, of course...
Keanu Reeves - Bram Stoker's Dracula
Jonathan Harker has always been a tricky character since he's basically the boring romantic lead who has little to do after the best part of the book (and most movie versions) is over. Once the action moves from Transylvania to England, he pretty much moves into the background. Film makers have approached the problem in various ways over the years; Werner Herzog, in his 1979 revisionist remake of Nosferatu cast Bruno Ganz in the role and turned the first few chapters of the novel into the entire first half of the film, allowing Ganz to deliver a sensitive and complex reading of the role. In most of the second half, he sits in a chair suffering from what appears to be post traumatic shock but what turns out to be something far, far worse. He's probably the best Jonathan Harker there has been. In the 1958 Hammer version, they actually go so far as to kill off the character (played this time by John Van Eyssen) as soon as Dracula vacates his home. In dramatic terms, the Jonathan Harker of the novel is bland, bland, bland. It's no wonder, then, that in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen graphic novels (forget the film, it didn't happen, you never saw it, just pretend it doesn't exist) Mina is divorced.
When Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola tried, in 1992 to give us a faithful rendition of the tale (allegedly), he decided to be true to the novel's roots and cast a cardboard cutout Keanu Reeves in the role and got him to do one the most amazing English accents ever attempted on film and by amazing, I don't mean good. Who can forget his delivery of such classic lines as "Wot in feect harpooned to Meestar Renfield in Trarnsylveinieea?" or...
Is it me, or does he look like he really needs the toilet in that scene but, being a dashing Victorian gent and that, he does not what to shock his delicate Victorian damsel Winona Rider with suggestions of his water closet related arrangements? And what is with her in this scene? Look at the way she's trying to make herself look small, as if she really doesn't want to be seen with this fake British guy who puts talc in his hair.
Of course, nothing beats this scene, in which he delivers what is probably the most famous line in the movie;
"Ea've scene meny strainje things alroddy, Count! Blooody wooolves cheeseing me throo a bloo infurnoo!". No wonder Gary Oldman looks like he's about to laugh his ass off in every scene they share together. Sure, I know Oldman looks like someone's granny who just mugged Jigsaw from the Saw movies before getting herself a nice perm, but at least he's wearing that shit with (Gay) pride.
Now, most of us have seen Bram Stoker's Dracula and I have questions; I don't know if it's just me, but does his accent get worse as the film goes on? How is that even possible, since none of these scenes would have been shot in order? Maybe its just because he approaches sounding tolerable in his introductory voice-overs, which would have been recorded in post-production, meaning that he only got nearly passable by the time filming was actually over. And while in that pub scene, while he was jiggering all over the place like crack addict after too much coffee had irritated his bladder infection, he's stiff as a board in other scenes. He's like a plank with a bad haircut. Did anyone notice his eyes in that shaving scene? He didn't know where to look. At one point, he actually looks at the camera. Go back and play it again. He looks at the fucking camera! Or maybe, totally bamboozled by Oldman's clearly deliberate over-the-top pantomime damery, he was just glancing at Coppola for help.
Now, I am in know way saying that Reeves is a bad actor. No, come on, I know people make fun of him but think back to My Own Private Idaho or the Bill and Ted movies or even The Matrix (the first one, once it actually gets going, the others were crap.). BUT he all too often phone's in a performance. In a movie where everyone is giving it WAY too much, he's not giving enough. But in real terms the fault lies with Coppola. Despite the fact that he's made two decent Godfather movies and Apocalypse Now, he's the guy who also gave us Jack and One From The Heart. He's wildly inconsistent and what he was thinking casting Ted Logan as a English estate agent?