The film adaptation of Katsuhiro Otomo’s classic manga Akira has been in development for longer than anybody can remember. WB has consistently struggling to rein in the film’s ever increasing budget while at the same time trying to place the film’s key players. The most persistent problem of all though, has been finding the two actors needed for the roles of the film’s main characters Testuo and Kaneda.
Year after year we’ve seen WB’s misguided attempts to cast the roles with blockbuster actors that are both terrible fits, and well into their 30s. The biggest scare of all came when Keanu Reeves was brought to the table. Now I’ve always been an avid fan of the Matrix films and Reeves himself, but how could anybody in their right mind even consider him for this role? Not to be mean or anything, but Reeves isn’t exactly known his dramatic depth, a quality needed to successfully pull off the role of Kaneda.
Fortunately for all parties concerned, Reeves has recently announced that he is separating himself from the project. His departure appears to have set off a chain of events that has also led to the firing of the pre-visualization team for the film. Once again, production is threatening to grind to a halt.
Fans of the original film and manga should see this all as a good sign. The track that this film was heading on with Reeves in the forefront was hardly the right one. Akira is supposed to be about teenagers, and having Steve Kloves rewrite the characters to fit older actors would be a terrible affront to the source material. Even Kloves position as screenwriter and Albert Hughes as director probably merits some second thoughts. If this film did get made with Reeves, it could feasibly be released around the same time as the next Bill & Ted movie, which could end up being a disastrous blow to Akira’s box office success. The main thing WB needs to do now is scale back their budget and rethink it’s execution. Eliminating the millions of dollars needed to pay somebody like Reeves, is naturally a move in the right direction