Throughout his 40-year career, Keanu Reeves has dabbled in every movie genre there is, with The Matrix, John Wick, and Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure taking top billing.
Best Keanu Reeves Movies
When it comes to humble, down-to-earth, and kind actors in Hollywood, you will not find someone better than Keanu Reeves. The man is truly a class act. For almost 40 years, Keanu Reeves movies have been top-notch with major franchises to boot (The Matrix and John Wick anyone?). Plus, he is known for more than just his acting talent. The actor is also known for his generosity, thoughtfulness, and deep philosophy on life.
The first Keanu Reeves movie was at the age of 22 in 1986’s Youngblood. A few years later, he filmed what would be his big break in the science-fiction adventure comedy Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989).
Keanu Reeves movies in the ’90s meant experimenting with different genres, including comedy, romance, drama, thrillers, and horror films, before finding a proclivity for action films like The Matrix (1999) and Constantine (2005).
Despite Keanu Reeves being a famous movie star since the late ’80s, the actor has managed to keep a cool head on his shoulders, remaining an incredibly kind and down-to-earth individual in the film industry.
Known for being overly generous to fans and co-workers alike, Reeves has often taken pay cuts to ensure a film got made, gifted motorcycles or paid-in-full trips to his cast and crew members, and has even jumped out of a moving vehicle to sign a homemade poster for a fan.
He’s a man who is passionate about making cinematic art but who also never forgets those who have helped him become the successful actor that he is.
Here are our favorite Keanu Reeves movies.
Keanu Reeves’s Most Well-Known Movie Is The Matrix (1999)
Before John Wick, The Matrix was Keanu Reeves’s most well-known franchise. Now, the two franchises are probably tied as far as recognizability, though The Matrix still holds the crown for the most influential Keanu Reeves movie.
Sisters Lana and Lilly Wachowski wrote and directed this 1999 film that would still have people doubting reality more than 20 years after its original premiere. Keanu Reeves stars as the film’s protagonist, a computer hacker named Neo who learns that everything he’s ever known is a simulation created by a corrupt cyber-intelligence.
Few films have influenced culture the way that The Matrix has. In addition to implanting the profound and unsettling question of “What is reality, really?” in the minds of its audience, The Matrix is a science-fiction movie with a very abstract concept that actually makes sense to the viewer—something that is rarely achieved in a sci-fi film.
As the cherry on top, The Matrix is also fully loaded with a stellar cast that not only has chemistry with one another but who truly make you believe that you swallowed the red pill along with Neo.
DANGEROUS LIAISONS (1988)
Released a year before his breakout role in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Keanu Reeves played the supporting but essential part of the Chevalier Danceny in this dramatic romance period piece that takes place in pre-Revolution Paris.
Directed by Stephen Frears and written by Christopher Hampton, Dangerous Liaisons is based on the 1782 French novel by Piere Choderlos de Laclos about a deceitful French woman named Marquise de Merteuil (Glenn Close) and her ex-lover (John Malkovich), who set out to corrupt the new fiancé of another of Merteuil’s ex-lovers.
Keanu Reeves’s Chevalier Danceny is a naive music teacher who gets caught up in the drama orchestrated by Mertueil when he falls in love with the woman Mertueil aims to corrupt, Cécile de Volanges (Uma Thurman). The result is everything one would expect from a French period drama—romance, betrayal, and bloodshed.
While Dangerous Liaisons was a moderate box-office success, critics and audiences both applauded the wit of the script as well as the talent of the actors in this film. Dangerous Liaisons was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won three of them—Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Costume Design, and Best Production Design.
KEANU REEVES EVEN MAKES DOCUMENTARY MOVIES GREAT, AS SEEN IN SIDE BY SIDE (2012)
Although it’s not a story-based movie, this documentary, which dissects the importance of film as a medium, still deserves to be on the list of the best Keanu Reeves movies. Keanu Reeves produced and narrated Side by Side, a documentary that compares the two main techniques of making movies: digital and film.
Side by Side takes an interesting stance as a documentary. Rather than choosing a perspective, the film interviews filmmakers with both points of view and compares them side by side. George Lucas might consider photochemical cinema creation to be dead, but Christopher Nolan believes that film is far superior to digital when creating art, like oil paints compared with crayons.
In this Keanu Reeves movie, he guides the audience through the history of cinema and the arguments between the old and the new mediums as an entertaining and informative narrator. The documentary does a great job of presenting each side evenly, leaving the viewer to decide which method they prefer.
KEANU REEVES STARRED IN THE BEST ACTION MOVIE EVER: SPEED (1994)
It’s not hard to make an action film a box-office success. Throw in a few explosions, a couple of good-looking actors, and release it during the summer. It will probably be a blockbuster smash.
There’s no need to have an Academy Award-winning script when people are just looking for a bit of escapism they can watch while chowing down on a bucket of popcorn.
Unlike most action movies, however, Speed became more than a mindless popcorn movie. Written by Graham Yost and directed by Jan de Bont, Speed features a complex villain (Dennis Hopper), a female lead who is there for more than just her looks (Sandra Bullock in her breakout role), and, of course, Keanu Reeves as the young, but promising LAPD SWAT officer.
While Speed probably won’t ever appear on anyone’s list of the greatest movies ever made, it is probably up there as far as the best action films ever created. Never aiming to be more than what it is, Speed does an incredible job of serving suspense, thrills, and non-stop action.
What do you get when you combine Steve Martin, Rick Moranis, Dianne Weist, and Keanu Reeves together in one movie? A wholesome comedy about life and the joys and tribulations of parenthood.
Keanu Reeves plays the young Tod Higgins in this balanced comedy and drama from the late ’80s. The film is mostly focused on Gil Buckman (Martin) and his sister Helen (Weist), who are two middle-aged parents doing their best to raise their kids.
Things get more complicated when Tod gets Helen’s teenage daughter pregnant and moves in with the family, but everything works out in the end.
This is a slice-of-life drama highlighted by the occasional silly shenanigans you would expect from a Steve Martin and Rick Moranis film. It was nominated for two Academy Awards and three American Comedy Awards for Moranis, Weist, and Martin, one of which was awarded to Moranis.
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (1993)
While Keanu Reeves’s portrayal of Don John in this Shakespeare remake movie is not the actor’s most popular role, Much Ado About Nothing is a delightfully fun film with an all-star cast that still holds up 30 years later.
The film follows a young betrothed couple, Hero (Kate Beckinsale) and Claudio (Robert Sean Leonard), who aim to arrange the partnership of their two friends, Benedick (Kenneth Branagh) and Beatrice (Emma Thompson).
Keanu Reeves plays the illegitimate brother of nobleman Don Pedro (Denzel Washington), a friend of Hero’s father, Leonato (Richard Briers). Reeves’s Don Pedro is the villain of the film—a man who is jealous of his brother’s nobility and therefore does his best to ruin everyone else’s happiness.
In addition to starring in the Keanu Reeves movie, Kenneth Branagh also wrote the script based on the Shakespeare play and directed the film. Much Ado About Nothing was nominated for several awards, including a British Academy Film Award and Independent Spirit Award, and it won the London Film Critics Circle Award for British Producer of the Year, which was awarded to Branagh.
Keanu Reeves’s performance in the film was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actor, though he lost to Woody Harrelson, who “won” it for Indecent Proposal.
Although it isn’t Keanu Reeves’s best movie, most fans and critics agree that the rest of the cast’s performance makes up where Don John might have been lacking. It is still a well-made, fun, and entertaining movie that deserves its spot on this list.
JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3—PARABELLUM (2019)
John Wick: Chapter 3—Parabellum was the highest-grossing John Wick film, having earned $171 million in lifetime earnings. The trequel more than doubled the second John Wick movie, John Wick: Chapter 2, which made $92 million in lifetime earnings and had also doubled the original income of John Wick, which made $43 million.
With a track record like that, it’s no wonder that Lionsgate will continue to produce more sequels to this underworld action thriller.
In addition to making the most of any of the John Wick movies, John Wick 3 also received the most praise from critics and audience members. Viewers have continued to love the dedicated execution of the action choreography, calling the actors’ and stuntmen’s precise portrayal of martial arts exquisite.
JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 (2017)
Sequels rarely come out better than the original. While The Matrix has gone down in history as one of the best science fiction films ever created, the sequel, The Matrix: Reloaded, was lackluster in comparison. John Wick: Chapter 2 does not have that problem.
The sequel to Keanu Reeves’ second most well-known movie franchise takes the action up a notch (if that’s even possible), providing viewers with even more artfully choreographed fight scenes.
John Wick 2 expanded on the lore of the John Wick universe without providing too much exposition and inserting just enough over-the-top action sequences to make audiences squeal with delight.
JOHN WICK (2014)
John Wick saw Keanu Reeves introduce a new action movie franchise on a level the world had not seen since The Matrix was first released 15 years earlier. Though some critics claimed that this feature lacked the substance of a good movie, most had their eyes so glued to the extremely well-choreographed action sequences that they didn’t even notice.
In a moment of soothsaying, after the critical reviews of the film were tallied, Rotten Tomatoes claimed that Reeves’s return to action movies via John Wick could be the start of a new franchise.
Not only was the movie review website correct, but the John Wick franchise (which currently has the fifth film in development) went on to outperform The Matrix franchise, both making more at the box office and receiving higher critical praise, with the first three John Wick films appearing on our Keanu Reeves best movie list.
KEANU REEVES HAD HIS MOVIE BREAKTHROUGH WITH BILL AND TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE (1989)
Keanu Reeves worked hard in the first five years of his acting career, appearing in a myriad of movies and television shows. However, it wasn’t until he took a journey through time in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure in 1989 that Reeves finally caught his big break.
Written by Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon and directed by Stephen Herek, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure follows two failing high school students (Reeves and Alex Winter) who join up with time traveler Rufus (George Carlin). The latter is a man from the year 2688 who must ensure that Bill and Ted pass their history exam so Ted’s dad will let them continue their band and make the music that will one day turn Earth into a Utopian society.
It’s a ridiculous plot, complete with ridiculous shenanigans and appearances from many ridiculously portrayed historical figures throughout time, but it’s also a wholesome comedy that’s still worthy of laughs even decades after its release.