I suppose I should quickly address that this indeed an animated film, but since the animation directly utilized the actors physical performances it does not matter for this review. Well I will admit Keanu Reeves is not an actor I have been particularly kind to, and I don't take back my thoughts towards his performances in films like Dangerous Liaisons and Bram Stoker's Dracula. Every new performance by any actor is a new chance for the actor to potentially show some ability. Here Reeves plays the undercover detective who spends his days with a group of druggies as himself sort of, which is more than can be said when he is actually reporting to his department. In these scenes he dresses in a full body suit that distorts his image and voice in order to keep his identity a secret to almost every one even to his immediate superior. This leaves Bob in to lead a most precarious life to say the least.
This part seems almost tailored made for Reeves's particular style, which often can be problematic, but that is not the case here. Often it feels though Reeves is a non-entity and almost emotionless, but that actually makes a lot of sense for his character here. Reeves's performance makes Bob the almost non-entity he is. Reeves in a particularly effortless fashion is able to create the weird place that his character of Bob is in. On one hand when he's with the drug addicts Reeves shows that emotional distance since he is not truly one of them because he is only a cop trying to infiltrate their lifestyle. On the other hand Bob cannot find solace when he is actually as "himself" doing his job due to being in the body suit. Not only only is not himself but he is also unable to honestly communicate with everyone else who also are completely distorted. Reeves is effective as he exudes that odd place that Bob is in as he does not seem apart of any part of the world.
Reeves's particularly set of skills happen to work perfectly in his scenes where he hangs out with the other druggies Barris (Robert Downey Jr.), Ernie (Woody Harrelson) and Freck (Rory Cochrane). Where each of them are all off in their own worlds of sorts Reeves plays a double game with his technically detached performance. Reeves's is effective on one side showing the detective side of Bob as he does keep a distance from them. Of course Bob in a way gets involved in a way more than he should because he does take the drugs along with them in an attempt to seem like he is one of them. The drugs take a particularly odd toll on Bob though as he basically slowly loses himself as it works his way to becoming a shallow husk. Well for a perfect shallow husk look no further than Keanu Reeves. To be completely fair to Reeves though it is not as though Bob is has lost himself from the beginning there is a transition.
The interesting thing about Reeves's work is how he kinda moves to becoming the Reeves we all know best as the film progresses. Reeves is quite effective in portraying the way that Bob seems to lose his mind as the film plays out. Reeves, since part of what Bob loses is his emotions, is quite affecting by showing the outbursts of emotions in Bob that come out while he slowly loses moves towards becoming nothing at all. One particularly moving scene comes when he is reporting to his superior and he is told that he will actually be punished for having become addicted to drugs. Reeves is terrific in this scene as he conveys a man suddenly see everything finally close in around him and his final sudden breakdown is well performed by Reeves as he expresses basically the last bit of that's left of Bob's humanity basically. After that point Reeves brings us to Bob becoming seemingly absolutely detached from everything.
Now this certainly was good casting as Reeves is given the chance use the more problematic elements involving his acting to advantage. It is not simply that though because Reeves is not simply some sort of odd prop for story. The character arc which is showing the damaging effects of the drug abuse is fully portrayed by Reeves. The film does indeed start with Bob already starting in a bad place, but not in the worst place to be sure. There is something quite powerful in Reeves work as honestly has more than there usually is to him, and it is quite disconcerting as he slowly picks these apart from his performance. It is true that this role, a bit like Adam Sandler in Punch Drunk Love actually, makes Reeves's weaknesses into strengths, but Reeves does deliver past that, even if that happens to brilliantly utilized, giving a compelling portrait of a man's mental demise due to drugs.