At this stage, Keanu Reeves is incredibly well versed at saving the world. In his time, Reeves has managed to save humanity from robots (The Matrix), vampires (Bram Stoker’s Dracula), Satan (The Devil’s Advocate), angels (Constantine) and a bus (Speed), among many others.
However, there is a chance these achievements will all be completely eclipsed in years to come by the latest project to bear the name Keanu Reeves: a collection of brand new antimicrobial nonribosomal lipopeptides developed by biomedical researchers at the Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology.
The chemical compounds, known as Keanumycins, have been found to be effective against Botrytis cinerea, a necrotrophic fungus that causes grey mould in soft fruit crops that is thought to cause up to $100bn of global economic losses annually. Until now, one of the most common ways for the agricultural industries to fight Botrytis cinerea was to use harmful chemical pesticides. However, researchers claim that Keanumycins are not only incredibly good at stopping grey mould, but are also biodegradable, leaving no long-lasting residue in soil. This is significant because it hints at a future for agriculture that is not only sustainable but more economically efficient. In short, Keanumycins might help save the world for real.
Now to the name. Researchers chose the name Keanumycin, because the lipopetides are ruthlessly businesslike when it comes to systematically killing things. “We named them after Keanu Reeves,” said lead author Sebastian Götze, “because he, too, is extremely deadly in his roles.”
For his part, Keanu Reeves has reacted with polite ambivalence to the news. In a recent Reddit AMA, where he appeared to learn about the existence of Keanumycins in real time, Reeves said “They should’ve called it John Wick … but that’s pretty cool … and surreal for me. But thanks, scientist people! Good luck, and thank you for helping us.”
It’s a sentiment that many longtime Reeves fans will echo. On one hand, it’s nice that Keanu Reeves has reached a point of scientific immortality with this discovery – ensuring that his name will live on a lot longer than his work in, say, The Day the Earth Stood Still – but at the same time, it is also highly redundant.
To boil down the work of Keanu Reeves to a simply litany of non-stop murder is to focus on only a fraction of his film work. What about Little Buddha, in which Reeves played an ancient prince who learns that ego is nothing more than an illusion? What about The Lake House, in which his character experiences a love so strong that it can traverse the boundaries of time itself? What about The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run, where he plays a glowing face in some tumbleweed? Where are the nonribosomal lipopeptides that reflect those elements of his abilities as a performer, huh?
If the researchers were really just out to celebrate cinematic kills, then there are so many other more appropriate subjects. Although John Wick kills about 100 people in each of his John Wick movies, this pales into insignificance compared with some of his peers. The old, and much-missed, website Movie Body Counts notes that Christian Bale killed 118 people in the 2002 movie Equilibrium, while Tomisaburō Wakayama was responsible for 150 deaths in the 1974 movie Lone Wolf and Cub: White Heaven in Hell. And this isn’t counting any film where someone sets off a nuke, or destroys a city, or puts on a magic glove and clicks his fingers and wipes out 50% of the entire universe. Put into that sort of context, Keanu Reeves is small fry indeed. The petition to change the name of the lipopeptides to Thanosmycin begins now.