There is a rumor that Keanu Reves is in talks with Warner Bros. over the possibility of taking the role of Kaneda in the American film adaptation of the classic Manga, Akira.
About a month back we discussed the actors who were being considered for the two lead roles in Akira – Robert Pattinson, Andrew Garfield, James McAvoy, Garrett Hedlund, Michael Fassbender, Chris Pine, Justin Timberlake, and Joaquin Phoenix – and lamented that they all seemed so inappropriate for the part, as all of them were too white and old to be Japanese teenagers.
Today we get word, by way of The Hollywood Reporter, that the current strongest contender for the lead role is Keanu Reeves, who is whiter and older than anyone on the previous list.
Akira is about a group of youths in a motorcycle gang. When one of them has to be rescued from a scientific experiment, it sets off a chain of events that lead to monstrous confrontations.
Thematically, the movie is about freedom and rebellion with a nice mix-in of teen angst. The plan is to make the story into two films.
We already knew that the story was being moved from Neo-Tokyo to New Manhattan, which makes a certain sense for a Hollywood film, but the actors they are looking at, especially this latest one throw all kinds of doubt on anything about the film remaining true to the source material.
Not that it has to. By all means: take Akira, and set it in New York among yuppie business executives or urban farm-hands or whatever; change it from a story of friendship and teen-aged rebellion to a cautionary tale of greed and sacrifice. Anything would be better than putting Keanu reeves into a leather jacket, sitting him on a motorbike, and having him pretend to be a teenager with an attitude. Anything but that!
Also: change the names of the characters, so they don’t seem strange for American actors.
Then: change the name of the film, so no one thinks it’s supposed to be Akira.