Keanu Reeves’ 10 Best Movies: From ‘John Wick’ to ‘The Matrix’ Films

by Madison Miller
keanu-reeves-10-best-movies-ranked-john-wick-the-matrix-films
(Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

When it comes to action movie stars, Keanu Reeves has been a force to be reckoned with since his emergence in the acting world in the 1990s. From blood-pumping action movies to romantic roles to a few comedic entries, Reeves has proved that he’s talented and versatile. Not to mention, he’s got his own position as one of the most likable and nicest people in Hollywood.

If you’re looking to binge-watch some of Keanu Reeves’ best moments on the screen, look no further. Here are his top 10 movies, not necessarily in order of greatness, but all incredible films. That’s all that really matters, right?

‘The Matrix’

  • Best Scene: The lobby shootout to rescue Morpheus
  • Release Date: March 31, 199
  • Awards and Nominations: MTV Movie & TV Award for Best Male Performance, MTV Movie & TV Award for Best Fight, Listed amongst Greatest Science Fiction Movies of All Time, Academy Awards for Best Film Editing, Best Sound, Best Sound Effects Editing, and Best Visual Effects

The movie centers around Thomas “Neo” Anderson, a computer programmer. He is brought in to help fight an underground war against powerful computers that have been able to construct his reality in a different system called “The Matrix.” He stars with his right hand, Trinity (Carrie-Ann Moss), and is awoken by none other than Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne).

The movie is absolutely iconic — talk to any movie buff and they have to agree. It paved the way for countless action movies to come, thanks to its spectacular stunts and visual effects. Lana and Lily Wachowski dominated the world with this cyberpunk action flick.

‘A Scanner Darkly’

  • Best Scene: When James Barris (Robert Downey Jr.) drags home a bike he bought off a neighbor, and the group can’t decide if he made a good deal on it or not. It uses a commonplace moment to create some visceral characterization.
  • Release Date: July 7, 2006
  • Awards and Nominations: Saturn Award Nominee for Best Animated Film

Despite being a Hollywood star, Keanu Reeves is never afraid to branch out into more experimental work as well. This Richard Linklater film is based on a Philip K. Dick novel in which a future America has lost the War on Drugs and a new hallucinogenic drug called Substance D is out of control. The movie follows Bob Arctor (Reeves) as he tries to go undercover to find the drug but instead loses himself.

This film tries out rotoscoping, which is when a film is shot digitally and then animators trace over the film. It makes for a real acid-trip-like experience that makes you question reality.

‘Point Break’

  • Best Scene: Surfing that epic 50-year storm or, you know, casually skydiving with no parachute
  • Release Date: July 12, 1991
  • Awards and Nominations: MTV Movie Award for Most Desirable Male

This 1991 movie launched Keanu Reeves into stardom (and into his place as a “desirable male”).

This action movie may just best define what we love about Reeves on and off the screen. It’s an intimate, thoughtful movie, while also being a deadly action film. With Katheryn Bigelow at the helm, “Point Break” undoubtedly marks one of Reeves’ all-time greatest flicks.

Reeves stars as a federal agent named Johnny Utah that is sent to investigate a series of bizarre bank robberies in Southern California. He discovers that the robbers are surfers, led by the charismatic Bodhi (Patrick Swayze). Suddenly, things grow complicated when Utah falls in love with one of the female surfers during his investigation. If you’re watching Reeves movies, don’t you dare skip out on this one.

‘The Gift’

  • Best Scene: The scene where Keanu Reeves’ character Donnie Barksdale gets cross-examined by Gary Cole’s character David Duncan. The emotions are explosive in this scene between several cast members.
  • Release Date: December 22, 2000
  • Awards and Nominations: Five Saturn Award nominations, two Chainsaw Award nominations, and one Independent Spirit Award nomination.

This 2000 thriller-mystery movie stars Cate Blanchett, Keanu Reeves, Hilary Swank, and Katie Holmes.

This movie takes place in Brixton, Georgia, a close-knit, not-so-private town. Suddenly, a group of people’s lives all clash together. From a woman with a supernatural clairvoyance gift to a young socialite that has disappeared to other strange characters, “The Gift” offers us a gift many other psychological thrillers do not.

For starters, Reeves is in it. Secondly, an interesting cast of actors from all kinds of genres makes for an all-around terrifyingly bright experience.

It tells the story of two young lovers, Hero (Beckinsale) and Claudio (Robert Sean Leonard), that are getting married in a week. Well, they get bored (not common with today’s hectic wedding planning, I guess). They decide to set up a lover’s trap for Benedick (Branagh) and Beatrice (Dame Emma Thompson). At the same time, Don Jon (Reeves) is trying to break up Hero and Claudio, citing infidelity. Reeves plays the villain instead of our hero, which is quite refreshing.

‘John Wick’

  • Best Scene: The Red Circle Club Assault. Nothing compares to John’s stealthy mission from the basement sauna up to the bustling dance floor to try to get ahold of Tarasov.
  • Release Date: October 24, 2014
  • Awards and Nominations: Winner of Best Action Movie at the IGN Awards, Winner of Biggest Surprise of the Year at the Golden Schmoes

When it comes to Keanu Reeves in a franchise, “John Wick” may just take the cake. He can’t seem to escape this 2014 movie, seeing as he just finished working on “John Wick 4.” In the movie, Reeves plays an infamous assassin that has decided to retire after settling down and marrying his wife. She dies suddenly and Wick is thrust back into the lifestyle. After Tarasov kills his puppy, he unleashes a string of vengefully outstanding moments against his enemies.

This movie highlighted that Reeves runs this action movie world, despite being away for a number of years.

‘My Own Private Idaho’

  • Best Scene: The campfire scene, hands down. Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix have a heartbreaking conversation about family, friendship, and unrequited love.
  • Release Date: September 29, 1991
  • Awards and Nominations: Independent Spirit Award Winner for Best Actor (River Phoenix). Phoenix also won the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor and Golden Train Award.

Maybe Keanu Reeves is a Shakespeare lover? This is his other adaptation, which is loosely based on “Henry IV.” The movie is about Mike Water (River Phoenix), who is a gay hustler with narcolepsy. Scott Favor (Keanu Reeves) plays the outright rebellions son of the town’s mayor. The two join forces for an epic adventure to find Mike’s estranged mother.

The journey takes them from Oregon to Idaho and then eventually to Italy. We’ll never forget that moment described above, where Mike confesses his love for Scott with vulnerability and honesty. It’s an exhilarating, while also heartbreaking, film all at once. It is easily one of director Gus Van Sant’s best works. Not to mention that these real-life best friends would lose each other in real life after Phoenix died in 1993.

‘Parenthood’

  • Best Scene: Steve Martin and Jason Robards’ heart-to-heart about fatherhood and how the worrying never stops. It’s a sweet moment of honest, real emotion among the exaggerated comedy.
  • Release Date: August 2, 1989
  • Awards and Nominations: Two Oscar nominations for Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Dianne Wiest) and Best Music Original Song. Three American Comedy Award nominations, three Golden Globe nominations, and one GRAMMY nomination for Randy Newman’s “I Love To See You Smile.”

Keanu Reeves gets to join the outright amazing cast of Steve Martin, Mary Steenburgen, Dianne Wiest, and Jason Robards in this comedy movie directed by Ron Howard.

Howard tackles the complexities of multi-generational families and how hard one tries to be “perfect” at parenthood. In this case, Reeves isn’t a parent, but rather a son-in-law for Wiest, married to her 16-year-old daughter. While Reeves’ character Tod is undoubtedly goofy, he also really helps Wiest understand her teenage son better. Sometimes, the best advice comes from the most unlikely of sources.

It’s an all-around thoughtful film that explores something we all know in the best and worst ways — family.

‘Speed’

  • Best Scene: For romance fans: Jack and Annie kiss after escaping the bus and yelling at each other for most of the movie. For action lovers: Howard Payne gets decapitated and Reeves says one of his greatest, most simple lines: “Yeah, but I’m taller.”
  • Release Date: June 10, 1994
  • Awards and Nominations: Won two Academy Awards — Best Sound Effect Editing and Best Sound. Nominated for Best Kiss, Best Movie, and Most Desirable Male at the MTV Movie Awards. It’s important to note that this movie has the second-highest rating on Rotten Tomatoes with a 94% (right behind “Toy Story 4,” which we don’t feel the need to discuss at this time).

Is it fair to say part of the reason this is one of Reeves’ best movies is the fact that he stars alongside none other than Sandra Bullock, an icon all on her own? When it comes to chemistry with co-stars, these two had it absolutely off the charts.

This movie is everything you would ever dream of in an action movie — it’s tense, energetic, and all-around satisfying. The movie is about an L.A. police officer, Jack, that angers a retired bomb squad member after foiling his attempt at getting some hostages. Howard Payne (Dennis Hopper) then plants a bomb on the bus that will explode if the bus goes under 50 mph.

It’s nearly two hours of fast-paced fun (just please don’t watch the sequel).

‘River’s Edge’

  • Best Scene: Given the nature of the film, it’s hard to pick a “best” scene from it. But let’s just say Crispin Glover puts his all into the scene where he tells Clarissa to get out of his car.
  • Release Date: September 10, 1986
  • Awards and Nominations: Independent Spirit Award Winner for Best Feature and Best Screenplay.

Keanu Reeves stars in this 1986 indie film alongside Crispin Glover, Dennis Hopper, Daniel Roebuck, and Ione Skye Leitch.

It tells the gruesome story of Samson (Roebuck) who murdered his girlfriend and left her on the bank of a river. Instead of fleeing, he shows the body to his friends. Layne (Glover) wants to keep quiet to protect his friend, meanwhile, Matt (Reeves) and Clarissa (Leitch) want to go to the police.

All in all, this movie is full of tension and urgency, as well as moments that cruelly signify a coming of age.

‘Much Ado About Nothing’

  • Best Scene: Keanu Reeves delivering a passionate, hilarious monologue while shirtless and glistening with massage oil. He literally calls himself a “plain-dealing villain,” in case anyone was confused about his role.
  • Release Date: May 7, 1993
  • Awards and Nominations: BAFTA Nominee for Best Costume Design, Golden Globe Nominee for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical. Nominated for two American Comedy Awards. Unfortunately, Keanu Reeves was nominated by the Razzie Awards for Worst Supporting Actor. We refuse to believe his performance was anything but campy and comical.

We love a bit of an outlier on a list, and this may just be our outlier. This 1993 movie stars Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson, Reeves, and Kate Beckinsale. It is an adaptation of a popular William Shakespeare play and it surely made a splash on the screen.

Additional reporting done by Leanne Stahulak.

Outsider.com