Keanu Reeves is an actor you either love or hate, but he seems like a genuinely good guy behind the scenes. He’s had a long career in Hollywood and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. While not without his weak performances (cough cough Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)), he has a very unique style of acting; one that gels with certain types of narratives and seems out of place in others. His strong dedication to stunt work makes him one of the best modern action stars as well. The man has hit a real stride in the past few years, coined as “The Keanussaince.” Here are the best Keanu Reeves movies:
A Scanner Darkly (2006)
Starting the list of best Keanu Reeves movies with an arguably odd choice, Richard Linklater’s A Scanner Darkly. It is based on the novel by famous science fiction writer Philip K. Dick, where an undercover cop (Reeves), on the hunt for a drug known as Substance D, begins to lose his identity when he gets involved with a group of addicts. Reeves’ acting style fits well into the surreal nature of the film. The cast also includes Robert Downey Jr., Winona Ryder and Woody Harrelson. It’s a trippy movie, and certainly not for everyone, but it ranks among the best Keanu Reeves movies.
A Scanner Darkly utilized an animation technique known as interpolated rotoscope, where cel animation is traced over filmed images frame by frame. This was the second of Linklater’s films to utilize this animation style, following Waking Life (2001).
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)
How can one make a list of the best Keanu Reeves movies, without including this classic 80s comedy? One of Reeves’ breakout roles. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is a movie about two slackers who go an adventure through time for their history class project. Naturally, they get into a variety of antics along the way. Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Reeves) are a fun buddy duo, and many humorous moments come from their dynamic. The late great George Carlin also plays an important role in the film.
Excellent Adventure was followed by Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991). Another sequel, Bill & Ted Face the Music, is scheduled for release in August of this year (if Covid-19 doesn’t shake up the release schedule that is).
The list of best Keanu Reeves movies would not be complete without this 90s action classic. Speed, is the story of a cop (Reeves) who must keep a bus moving above 50 miles per hour to stop a bomb from going off. Talk about an adrenaline filled premise! It also stars Sandra Bullock and Dennis Hopper. Speed was a smash hit, grossing over 350 million dollars. An entertaining popcorn action thriller with a good central performance from Reeves.
A much-maligned sequel followed three years later, Speed 2: Cruise Control, which Reeves was not involved with.
Point Break (1991)
Another 90s action classic joins the rank of best Keanu Reeves movies. Point Break is the story of an undercover FBI Agent (Reeves) who must infiltrate a bank robbing surfer group. His performance allows him to slide between these two groups with ease. The film also stars Gary Busey, as Reeves pseudo mentor/crazy partner, and Patrick Swayze, as Bodhi, the leader of the surfing bank robbers. Kathryn Bigelow, a prolific and exciting female voice in action cinema, directed the film.
Point Break has reached cult status over the years. A remake released in 2015, but was not received well critically or financially.
The John Wick Trilogy
Keanu’s recent franchise hit, the John Wick movies, certainly deserve a spot on the list of best Keanu Reeves movies. The John Wick trilogy begins with the death of John’s beloved dog, which leads him on a quest for vengeance through an underground hit man world that only grows bigger with each successive film. These movies are the perfect showcase of Keanu’s stunt skills and his dedication to the craft. Reeves, now in his mid 50s, is still being thrown around for our entertainment and seems to enjoy it.
The next sequel in the series, John Wick 4, was originally set to release on May 21st, 2021 but production has been delayed. It’s now aiming to release in 2022.
The Matrix (Trilogy)
Of course this late 90s, sci-fi-action genre bender takes the top spot on the list of best Keanu Reeves movies. The first Matrix introduces Neo (Reeves), a hacker, who learns of a rebellious group in the real world outside of his illusionary world known as the Matrix, and must help to bring down the machines behind it. The trilogy as a whole does not live up to the first film, but it’s worth exploring for its expansion of this imaginative world and the action sequences. These films are also great showcases of why Keanu is one of the best modern action stars because of his awesome stunt work and gunplay.
A fourth film, currently titled The Matrix 4, is set to release on May 21st 2021 (which would’ve made a great double bill with John Wick 4), but it is also on hold due to the coronavirus, so it will likely be pushed back.