Keanu Reeves has been acting for more than 30 years, and here’s how all his films rank, worst to best. A franchise fixture now involved in three trilogies, he’s had a vast and varied career, from young, soulful heartthrob to goofy dude-bro to one of the most bankable action stars working – twice. Reeves has continuously managed to evolve and reinvent himself along the way.
Many would argue that a good amount of Reeves’ films are far from great, with the actor often criticized as being stiff, wooden, and genuinely unemotive. It’s the great irony of Reeves that his gift for Zen stillness can arguably transition into performances viewed as boring or disconnected. That said, when his skills are employed correctly, it’s difficult to argue with the unique movie star charisma of the man who brought audiences Ted “Theodore” Logan, Johnny Utah, and Neo (a.k.a. Thomas Anderson).
With the “Keanussance” in full effect after the surprise success of the John Wick franchise, it’s worth taking a look back at the one-of-a-kind actor’s filmography. That’s especially true given his recent return to the Matrix franchise. Here are his major films, ranked from worst to best – but first, a note of clarification. A handful of movies Reeves has appeared in aren’t be included here, such as cameo roles, made-for-TV or direct-to-video films he did in his early days, and tiny indie releases that aren’t widely available to easily watch. Thus, Reeves briefly voicing the titular cat in Keanu won’t be ranked, and neither will his cameo in Alex Winter’s Freaked.
58. Generation Um…
There’s a reason why Generation Um… is at the bottom of the list: this mumblecore-wannabe currently rocking a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes, Keanu plays an escort-service driver wandering around New York with two friends documenting their misadventures with a stolen camera, in what’s easily the worst Keanu Reeves movie. It’s presumably aspiring for an aimless, hangout vibe movie à la Richard Linklater, but the result is as tedious and inarticulate as its title.
Another miss is the Keanu Reeves movie Exposed. Appraisals of the actor’s career can often feel like a back-and-forth between calling him soulful and Zen, and stiff and boring. While he’s turned in plenty of performances that can be classified as the former, it’s hard to see this one as anything but a block of wood, even if he’s ultimately the best part of the movie. Playing a police detective investigating the death of his former partner, he often gets lost in the shuffle of a tangled, incomprehensible plot and bizarre tone which mixes fantastical bits of magical realism with a clumsy handling of sexual violence.
56. The Watcher
A dud of a thriller with Hitchcockian ambitions – and a movie Reeves was actually tricked into making – The Watcher tries for a reversal of expectations with its cat-and-mouse game between a serial killer and an FBI agent, casting the iconically-eccentric James Spader as the cop and Reeves as the murderer. It’s a role Keanu may be able to handle now, but back in 2000, his relative youth was a poor fit for the role.
Replicas is another problematic Keanu Reeves movie. In the wake of John Wick, Reeves has been given fairly free rein to tackle a vast number of passion projects, and since his first love is a certain kind of high-concept sci-fi thriller, the results are bound to be hit-or-miss. Chalk this one up solidly in the “miss” column; it’s a film so bafflingly inept that its most believable aspect is Keanu cloning his family after they die in a car accident.
54. Little Buddha
The Keanu Reeves movie Little Buddha has a host of problems. One can certainly understand why noted director Bernardo Bertolucci might want to cast such a Zen actor in the role of Siddhartha, the monk who would grow up to be Buddha. That doesn’t necessarily make it okay. Sure, his grandmother is Chinese-Hawaiian, but there’s something about his casting here that just inappropriate. Surrounded by a bounty of real South Asian actors, Keanu sticks out like a sore thumb with his bronzed skin, heavy eyeliner, and an Indian accent that would make The Simpsons’ Apu blush.
Siberia is another post-John Wick flick that attempts to be a more icy, slow-burn thriller but mostly winds up interminably boring. Keanu may have had an interesting idea initially for this role, but here he participates in maybe the dullest diamond heist ever committed to film.
52. Johnny Mnemonic
Johnny Mnemonic is a cyber-punk thriller that is so woefully misguided from start to finish that it’s a marvel the Wachowskis later cast him to play Neo. Reeves takes on the role of a sort of human flash drive, transporting sensitive content to the mega-corporations that control this futuristic society. Keanu Reeve’s sci-fi movie may attempt to say something about technology’s grasp over modern culture, but the lack of believability here makes that message fall flat.
51. Feeling Minnesota
Co-starring Cameron Diaz, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Delroy Lindo Feeling Minnesota is a mashup of rom-com beats with a crime thriller. It borrows heavily from earlier films, but unfortunately does so with seemingly no understanding of what makes its forebears so successful. Playing a man who falls in love with his own brother’s partner, a stripper played by Diaz, Reeves gives a performance that’s frustratingly in flux between his Bill and Ted and Matrix personas.
50. 47 Ronin
While a martial arts Keanu Reeves action movie about a group of samurai who assemble to avenge the death of their lord sounds like a total slam-dunk, sadly, 47 Ronin fails to live up to its premise. The unnecessary remake of this twice-before filmed Japanese legend is the weakest version of this story. The film may boast an onslaught of mythical beasts and shape-shifting witches, but audiences are better off watching the original.
49. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues
Reeves teamed up again with My Own Private Idaho director Gus Van Sant for this considerably less-effective follow-up, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. A tonally-confused adaptation of a Tom Robbins novel, the movie sees Uma Thurman’s large-thumbed hitchhiker meeting a whole cast of eccentric characters portrayed by actors Van Sant leaves hanging out to dry.
48. Sweet November
A romance starring Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron as a couple who meet at a DMV and attempt a month-long trial relationship, Sweet November is a schmaltzy weeper that regurgitates earlier films with weak results and even weaker chemistry between its two leads.
47. Chain Reaction
Chain Reaction is another weak entry in Keanu Reeves’ filography. The actor isn’t all that bad playing a rocket scientist on the run after being framed for murder. Unfortunately, the surrounding film is a rote, formulaic ripoff of The Fugitive. This may be because the movies share the same director, Andrew Davis. At least Reeves is surrounded by capable performers like Morgan Freeman and a pre-Mummy Rachel Weisz.
46. Knock Knock
Knock Knock is another weaker Keanu Reeves movie. In this typically disgusting, nasty-for-the-sake-of-it thriller from director Eli Roth, Reeves plays a married man tortured at the hands of two young stranded women. There’s violence, home invasion, and pedophilia, but little reason on display for why this was even made in the first place. It’s perhaps Roth’s biggest misfire in what’s been a mixed career since his polarizing 2003 debut, Cabin Fever.
45. Street Kings
The LAPD crime drama Street Kings is pretty par for the course for director David Ayer, heavy on formula but light on brains. Tediously eschewing any exploration of psychosis or morality for all the familiar beats, this film’s overreliance on graphic bloody violence may furrow the brows of even the most devout action lover.
44. The Whole Truth
The courtroom thriller The Whole Truth doesn’t really call to mind the greats of the genre. Its procedural script putters along without much excitement, and Reeves’ trademark stiffness doesn’t necessarily help liven up its claustrophobic setting.
43. The Lake House
The Keanu Reeves movie The Lake House is a misguided romance. This reunion between the stars of Speed boasts an absolutely bonkers premise: while at her lake house, Sandra Bullock can send and receive letters from the house’s owner two years prior, a handsome architect played by Reeves himself. It’s a schmaltzy story, and those championing sparks between the two stars are sure to be disappointed with how little they physically interact.
42. Henry’s Crime
Vera Farmiga and James Caan are great in the quirky heist movie Henry’s Crime. It’s about a falsely-imprisoned man conspiring with his cellmate to commit an actual robbery. Reeves is miscast as the quiet innocent here, though, adding a bit too much “mute” to this already very muted comedy.
41. Much Ado About Nothing
Kenneth Branagh’s film version of William Shakespeare’s classic play Much Ado About Nothing is certainly tasteful and exuberant, with welcome turns by Emma Thompson, Denzel Washington, and Michael Keaton. However, little can prepare a viewer for how awfully miscast Keanu Reeves is as the scowlingly villainous Don John. Released at a time when the actor was all but completely defined by Bill and Ted, it’s hard not to feel he’s straining in the role.
40. The Replacements
Keanu plays a former quarterback given one last chance at glory when he and others are brought on as a last-minute replacement for the striking Washington Sentinels. The Replacements is an easy enough watch, owing mostly to the watchable charm of its cast, most of all Reeves. Just don’t expect more than the traditional sports comedy.
39. Tune in Tomorrow…
In Tune in Tomorrow… Keanu Reeves plays a young news reporter whose affair with his not-related-by-blood aunt (played by Barbara Hershey) becomes the subject of a radio soap opera in this likable but hit-or-miss comedy. His performance is totally winning and romantic, but the film’s charm wears itself out around the midpoint.
38. The Day the Earth Stood Still
The Day the Earth Stood Still is another misguided Keanu Reeves project. Honestly, there’s very little reason for this not-very-good remake of the 1950s sci-fi movies classic to exist. That said, it’s impossible to deny that Reeves’ striking looks and “is he wooden or just very chill” vibes make him a fairly compelling alien in a human’s body. Still, the original classic tells this story so much better.
Hardball ostensibly wants to be a 21st-century update of The Bad News Bears, with Reeves playing a hard-boiled gambler who can’t pay off his debts until he coaches a ragtag team of inner-city kids at baseball. There are some genuinely touching moments, and the kids are fun (that’s a 14-year-old Michael B. Jordan!), but ultimately the film can’t make up its mind if it’s a light sports comedy or a hard-hitting bit of social commentary; in the end, it settles for easy sentiment and cliché.
A few young heartthrobs pop up in Youngblood, a by-the-book sports drama, including Rob Lowe and future Road House star Patrick Swayze. Keanu doesn’t have much to do but cash in on his high school hockey MVP status, but he’s pretty charming here, and his French-Canadian accent is truly something to behold.
35. The Bad Batch
Director Ana Lily Amirpour’s follow-up to the critically-acclaimed A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is the heavily-stylized story of a young woman abandoned in a harsh Texas wasteland and forced to fend for her survival. The visual flair in The Bad Batch is often impeded by its self-indulgence, but Reeves is goofy enough fun here as a cult leader named The Dream, if a bit lacking in the necessary villainy.
34. A Walk in the Clouds
A Walk in the Clouds is a gorgeously picturesque film. Reeves plays a haunted World War II veteran posing as the husband of a pregnant woman to mixed results. It’s not ideal casting, but the actor’s unaffected style gives minimal offense. The cinematography does most of the work here, creating the desired feeling of sweeping romance with stunning vineyard photography.
33. To the Bone
In the 2017 Netflix film To the Bone, Reeves plays a doctor at a group home who aids a young girl in her battle against anorexia. It’s a sensitive, genuine movie that grapples with the eating disorder in a nakedly direct manner, with a standout performance by Lily Collins.
32. The Neon Demon
The Neon Demon is a gorgeously-shot, bizarro mess of a film that’s still polarizing its viewers. This fever dream from Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn centers on a young woman (Elle Fanning) who moves to Los Angeles after her 16th birthday to become a model. Once there, she faces an onslaught of Dario Argento-style aesthetics, as well as vicious models, a creepy photographer, and a seedy motel manager. The latter is played by none other than Reeves, in a small but memorable performance that feels like late-career Nicolas Cage in the best possible way. Given Reeves’ real-life reputation as a kind, stand-up guy, it’s a bit refreshing to see him play such an unrepentant scumbag, and makes one wonder why he doesn’t accept villain roles more often.
31. I Love You to Death
I Love You To Death is another middling Keanu Reeves movie. Writer-director Lawrence Kasdan’s follow-up to his miracle run of Body Heat, The Big Chill, Silverado, and The Accidental Tourist purports itself as a comedy, but mostly wastes an all-star cast including Kevin Kline, Tracy Ullman, River Phoenix, William Hurt, and Joan Plowright. Keanu is actually one of the better parts, playing a hitman who’s always blissfully blazed.
30. Destination Wedding
This Keanu Reeves reunion with Stranger Things star Winona Ryder sees the both of them playing a misanthropic pair of wedding guests who find love in a hateful place. The whole thing is pretty mean-spirited, but the likability of these two stars goes a long way, and it’s a pleasant enough diversion.
29. Dangerous Liaisons
Keanu Reeves has a solid showing in Dangerous Liaisons as one of the victims of a wicked game of manipulation and sexual politics being played out by the Marquise de Merteuil (Glenn Close) and the Vicomte de Valmont (John Malkovich). He’s obviously outmatched by the fireworks Close and Malkovich bring to the proceedings, but his hapless bro energy makes him a compelling naif.
28. The Animatrix
Designed to serve as both an expansion of the franchise and a companion piece to The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions‘ 2003 release, The Animatrix is an anthology of animated shorts considered to be part of the official canon and produced by Matrix creators the Wachowski sisters. An interesting effort sure to entertain hardcore Matrix fans, The Animatrix might rank a bit higher in the hierarchy of Keanu Reeves movies had he actually been featured in it to a greater extent. Reeves voices Neo in only one of the shorts on tap, called “Kid’s Story.” It focuses on a troubled teen who looks to Neo and Trinity for an escape from his unremarkable life. Reeves’ appearance borders on being a cameo, but because it features him performing as the iconic Neo, The Animatrix still deserves mention among his vast filmography.
27. Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Francis Ford Coppola’s visually resplendent, practical effects-heavy ode to old-school monster movies, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, is a feast for the eyes and imagination. The Keanu Reeves movie features Oscar-winning craftsmanship in every department, most notably Eiko Ishioka’s haunting costumes. Reeves himself is admittedly out of his depth among it all, with his “British by way of surfer bro” performance all but laughed off the screen by colossal slices of ham like Gary Oldman and Anthony Hopkins. A possible evaluation of his turn here as Jonathan Harker would be that he’s admirably reflecting the chiseled woodenness of the monster movie straight men of Old Hollywood, but that’s probably too generous an explanation; in a film that is a wonderfully perverse joy to behold, he’s objectively the worst part.
26. The Devil’s Advocate
Al Pacino shines in The Devil’s Advocate, in which he literally plays Satan. While Pacino’s having most of the fun, Keanu Reeves is the real lead here: he’s the new lawyer at the Manhattan firm run by the devil (go figure). While his Southern dialect is questionable, he certainly matches Pacino with gusto and the whole thing adds up to a pretty fun ride (even if Reeves ends up trapped in a time loop). Charlize Theron also appears in an early role as Reeves’ tormented wife, and while it’s a bit of a thankless character, she has easy chemistry with Reeves, and they’re a believable couple.
25. The Gift
Billy Bob Thornton writes and Sam Raimi directs in the small-town mystery The Gift. The movie features an all-star cast including Cate Blanchett, Hilary Swank, and Giovanni Ribisi. Keanu is actually really good in an unexpected role for him: an abusive husband accused of murder. Even if the film can’t totally transcend its genre trappings, The Gift was one of the first indications that Reeves can play a great villain if given the right material, and showcases him as a genuinely intimidating presence.
24. Permanent Record
Permanent Record is a quietly tragic little movie in which Reeves plays a young man dealing with life after his best friend kills himself. Those expecting a quiet, contemplative performance from the typically-reserved actor might be surprised to see him so nakedly raw here, but he’s incredibly compelling in this ahead-of-its-time character study about teen suicide.
Constantine is a schlocky horror-fantasy hybrid about a demon hunter. Director Francis Lawrence brings a vision and style to the whole thing that’s a retrospective breath of fresh air compared to the cookie-cutter vibe of modern comic book movies, and the prospect of Keanu Reeves making Constantine 2 is an exciting one. While it’s true that many DC Comics fans didn’t like Reeves playing the traditionally blond and British dabbler in the dark arts, he made the role his own, creating a worthy interpretation.
22. The Matrix Revolutions
The finale to the original Matrix trilogy certainly has its defenders, and one can’t help but praise the ambition of the Wachowskis. That said, this is a sequel that too often buries the franchise’s innovation and imagination underneath ponderous mythologizing and an endless barrage of CGI. Keanu Reeves’ Neo finds a decent conclusion here, but he’s constantly battling for screen time in a movie more preoccupied with an interminably long battle between mech-suit warriors and the Matrix’s multi-tentacled Sentinels. It appeared for a long time that The Matrix Revolutions would truly be Reeves’ last hurrah as Neo, until 2021’s The Matrix Resurrections.
21. The Private Lives of Pippa Lee
Robin Wright shines in The Private Lives of Pippa Lee as a woman trying to sort through the complications of life after moving with her older husband to a suburban retirement village. Reeves’ role isn’t huge, but he’s quite lovely opposite Wright as her younger, charming confidante.
20th Century Women and Beginners director Mike Mills’ first film, Thumbsucker, is a winningly quirky little comedy about a high school student trying to kick the embarrassing habit of sucking his thumb. Keanu is a total delight as his eccentric but enlightened dentist, Dr. Perry Lyman, showing the performer’s underrated penchant for scene-stealing character parts.
19. The Matrix Resurrections
After nearly 20 years away from the franchise he’s most closely linked to, Reeves stepped back into the virtual world for 2021’s The Matrix Resurrections, directed by original co-creator Lana Wachowski. While many Matrix devotees hoped for a sequel that would blow the divisive The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions out of the water, what Resurrections ended up being was somewhere in the middle of the pack. It’s not nearly as great as the first Matrix movie — but no one expected it to be. That said, it’s also a bit lesser than The Matrix Reloaded, which boasted some terrifically thrilling action sequences. Still, Resurrections is notably better than Revolutions, and for those in the mood for a cerebral, highly meta examination of the legacy of Neo and Trinity, there’s enjoyment to be had.
18. Man of Tai Chi
As of yet, Man of Tai Chi is still the only film Keanu has directed, and it’s practically overflowing with his knowledge and love of Hong Kong martial arts action films. With cinematographer Elliot Davis and editor Derek Hui, he crafts a loving ode that’s actually pretty entertaining, with his performance mimicking the long-take action bravado of his John Wick fight scenes. Still, while Man of Tai Chi wasn’t a smash hit, it did pretty well with both critics and audiences, and point to Reeves having a successful directing career should he ever want to pursue that creative avenue with more films.
17. River’s Edge
Keanu Reeves gives his most unsettling performance in River’s Edge as one of a group of teens staying silent when a friend brutally murders a young woman. This tense, dark study of teenage morality utilizes the young actor’s gift of quiet stillness for a far more disturbing effect. It’s hypnotic, haunting stuff, as tough as it may be to watch.
16. Bill and Ted Face the Music
Early trailers for this long-awaited follow-up didn’t necessarily instill confidence in this duo’s return, but released during COVID times, the final result is exactly the kind of warm “himbo” hug audiences all needed. Starring alongside original Bill and Ted co-star Alex Winter, the two are gloriously keyed in as the aged best friends who now have to travel through time to steal the song that will save the world from their future selves. Not everything works, but there’s such goofy goodwill for these guys, and the film’s heart remains so consistently in the right place, that it’s hard to resist Bill and Ted’s reminder to “be excellent to each other, and party on, dudes.” That said, it’s probably best for the Wyld Stallyns to hang up their guitars for good at this point, lest they risk a disappointing fourth entry.
15. The Matrix Reloaded
The Matrix Reloaded is an ambitious sequel that sees the Wachowskis deepening the mythology to mixed results. Its first and second acts largely comprise statically-shot dialogue scenes that read less as character exchanges and more as instruction manuals for analysis. That’s not to say there aren’t a solid share of high points, including a rave-style orgy, the one-two punch of a fantastic Keanu Reeves martial arts sequence followed by an absolutely thrilling freeway chase, and an eleventh-hour visit with The Architect, a scene which (for better or worse) changes the game of the series, even if people are still trying to suss out what it actually means. The Matrix Resurrections does now give Reloaded a run for its money in the expanded mythology department though, a good or bad thing depending on one’s point of view.
14. Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey
This 1991 sequel Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey is often considered a marked step down after the highs of the original, but that’s not necessarily fair. While Face the Music follows much of the same blueprint as Excellent Adventure, Bogus Journey forges its own path, sending an evil dictator from the future to kill Bill and Ted and replace them with robots. Twenty minutes into the film, the heroes are thrown off a cliff and spend the rest of the running time trying to escape the afterlife in an Ingmar Bergman-esque purgatory. It’s refreshingly ambitious for a comedy, with a zany film-literate sensibility and a scene-stealing performance from William Sadler as the Grim Reaper. Bogus Journey‘s version of Hell is also inspired, starting with its giant Satan figure, and continuing with its ironic punishments personalized for Bill and Ted.
13. Toy Story 4
While Toy Story 4 is largely considered the worst Toy Story movie, it’s still a very enjoyable film. A journey of discovery for beloved cowboy doll Woody, it features a small but welcome turn from a post-John Wick Keanu reeves as Duke Caboom, a stunt motorcyclist toy, inspired by Evil Knievel, with a distinctly Canadian twist.
12. Always Be My Maybe
Reeves squeezed in a five-day shoot for his cameo performance in Always Be My Maybe in between John Wick: Chapter 3 scheduling, and the result is a wonderfully unhinged, self-deprecating parody. Playing an inflated spoof of himself, he wears glasses without lenses “for a part,” eats venison while listening to a deer being slaughtered, and asks a waiter at a restaurant, “Do you have any dishes that play with time? The concept of Time?” It’s a small part, but worth every second.
11. Something’s Gotta Give
Released a month after The Matrix Revolutions, the Nancy Meyer romantic comedy Something’s Gotta Give ranks among the director’s best. It sees an effortlessly-charming Keanu far from the sturm-and-drang broodiness of Neo. His chemistry with Diane Keaton is sizzling and sexy, even if it’s no surprise he’s just a pit stop on her way to Jack Nicholson. Still, it’s refreshing to see a Hollywood movie spotlight a romance between an older woman and younger man, instead of always the other way around.
One of Keanu Reeves’ earlier movies, 1989’s Parenthood, is also one of his strongest. Reeves’ most famous moment here is defending a young Joaquin Phoenix after he’s caught masturbating by Dianne Wiest. “That’s what little dudes do,” he famously proclaims. It’s the cherry on top of a performance that’s one of the actor’s best “lovable doofus” roles. His chaotic slacker vibes are a perfect foil for Steve Martin’s uptight suburban dad, and the actor’s “still waters running deep” quality gives the character an added pathos lesser performers would’ve not harnessed.
9. Point Break
Point Break has a reputation for being cheesy, testosterone-fueled entertainment — and being Iron Man’s nickname for Thor — but at its heart speaks to the talent of Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow. Bigelow’s innate understanding of male fragility is on full display here; Reeves plays the melodrama of federal agent Johnny Utah extremely capably, bringing dynamite chemistry to his relationship with Patrick Swayze’s rush-addicted thief Bodhi. The whole thing is an outrageously fun thrill ride that also capitalizes on Bigelow’s stellar gift for bringing intimacy to cinema’s most action-packed tropes. An ill-conceived remake was released in 2015, and tellingly, few seem to remember it was made, much less what they thought of it.
8. A Scanner Darkly
One of director Richard Linklater’s most underrated efforts, A Scanner Darkly is a paranoia-ridden adaptation of the Philip K. Dick novel about a narcotics cop becoming an addict when he goes undercover in a futuristic society. Utilizing a rotoscoped technique nicely complements Keanu’s often-cartoony acting style, and his detached blankness adds an unsettling quality to the film’s portrait of police state surveillance.
7. John Wick: Chapter 2
Let’s face it: every installment in the John Wick series is an absolute gem, and picking favorites is all but impossible. This second chapter sees Reeves plugged in once again as the lethal assassin pushed too far by the murder of his dog, with an upping of the ante on the gun-fu action sequences and a deepening of the series’ mythology.
6. John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum
The third John Wick flick sees the excess turned all the way up to 11 without losing any of the franchise’s fist-bumping excellence. Reeves is as committed as ever, and the sight of him riding a horse through a neon-drenched rainy New York to kill a whole batch of assassins alone is enough to prompt a standing ovation. The fact that it’s surrounded by some of the best action sequences in recent memory, most of them enacted by a fierce battalion of canine warriors, is just icing on the cake. Now the challenge will be to see if Reeves and director Chad Stahelski can top themselves in the action department once again, while not succumbing to the law of diminishing returns with John Wick 4.
The concept in Speed is simple: a bus has to stay above 50 miles per hour or it will explode. Absolutely ridiculous stuff, but with Keanu Reeves giving such a committed, straight-faced performance, the whole thing transcends into loopily insane fun. This is the type of thing Reeves can do that few others can, give stakes to something so utterly absurd while still possessing a knowing smirk that it’s all just a movie. Needless to say, the real fireworks come from his explosive chemistry with Sandra Bullock. Sadly, Reeves didn’t return for the ship-set Speed 2, leading to a franchise that sunk right after leaving the dock.
4. John Wick
Keanu Reeves found himself back in the spotlight after his late-career-defining turn in John Wick. Playing the retired assassin who’s pushed too far when mobster thugs kill his wife and puppy, Keanu is both startlingly believable as a man who’s capable of killing everyone who gets in his way, and insanely rootable as a person the audience wants to see do just that. A true sleeper hit, John Wick birthed an action franchise for the ages.
3. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
Another early film in his career, Bill and Ted is also one of Keanu Reeves’ best movies. Alex Winter’s and Keanu Reeves’ lovable doofuses Bill S. Preston and Theodore Logan are far from the mean-spirited jerks that would be inspired by these empty-headed, metal-loving sweeties. The film is at once a gleeful romp through history, a sci-fi parable about the Chosen Ones who will bring peace to the universe, and a warm and kind-spirited reminder for decency in an oppressive modern world. Keanu Reeves is so good here that it took him years to convince people he was capable of more than just playing a California bozo, but this is a film that will always be, to put it bluntly, excellent.
2. My Own Private Idaho
Before Call Me By Your Name, and before Brokeback Mountain, there was My Own Private Idaho, Gus Van Sant’s loose and lovely adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henry IV. It’s a film most remembered for River Phoenix’s stunning portrayal of gay narcoleptic street hustler Mike Waters, made more haunting by his tragic death two years after the film’s release. However, he’s matched beat for beat by Reeves, who transforms his detached, impenetrable presence into heartbreaking unattainability as the object of Mike’s desires.
1. The Matrix
It should be of no surprise that the pop-culture juggernaut The Matrix is Keanu Reeves’ best movie. Simply put, the Wachowskis’ masterpiece is one of the most groundbreaking, audacious, enduring, and iconic pieces of cinema of the last 30 years, a stellar melding of dystopian science fiction, film noir, and Asian martial arts action films. While Will Smith was considered for the role, it’s nearly impossible to imagine anyone other than Reeves playing the Chosen One, Neo. The actor’s blend of androgynous beauty and distant impenetrability fits wonderfully on the hero chosen to save the world. Keanu Reeves has given audiences a full career of hits and misses, action heroes, and lovable goofballs, but nothing can match the cultural impact of his turn as Neo in The Matrix — at least not yet.
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