×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Best and worst Keanu Reeves movies

Over the course of Keanu Reeves' long career in Hollywood, it seems like he's ventured into nearly every genre under the sun. From playing a rookie FBI agent tracking down a group of surfing criminals in Point Break to the unwitting solicitor who winds up at a vampire's castle in Bram Stoker's Dracula, Reeves isn't the kind of actor you can typecast, which just might explain his widespread popularity. And with his reputation as a humble, down-to-earth guy, it's no wonder he's enjoyed so much success.

On top of all that, Reeves has appeared in plenty of critically acclaimed films, but with more than 50 films under his belt, he's also worked on his fair share of bombs. Whether you're a long-time fan of Reeves, or you're just getting to know his filmography, it's time to explore the films that have cemented his reputation as one of today's most beloved actors, as well as the movies that his own skills just couldn't redeem. From action flicks to sci-fi fare, here are the best and worst films of Keanu Reeves.

Best: John Wick is Keanu Reeves' greatest action flick

Everyone knows that a dog is a man's best friend. So when a group of Russian gangsters break into John Wick's home, drive off in his car, and kill his puppy, he does what any notorious assassin would do. He makes it his mission to hunt these men down and destroy them. With Reeves starring as John Wick, fans of action films will love seeing him dodge bullets, get into car chases, and take down the criminals who dared to cross him. 

But make no mistake, John Wick isn't just a series of mindless fight scenes. The cinematography is striking, the pacing will keep you hooked, and the worldbuilding is unbelievable. Plus, Reeves' performance is top-notch as a man haunted by tragedy and grief ... and who's really good at gun-fu. So far, the original film has spawned two sequels, John Wick: Chapter 2, and John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum. Both movies have earned positive receptions from critics and audiences, and the story will continue in May 2022 with another installment, John Wick: Chapter 4. And yeah, every film in the franchise is amazing, so if you want to see Reeves at his action star best, check out the first film and work your way forward.

Worst: Siberia is a bore

In this romantic crime thriller, Reeves stars as Lucas Hill, an American diamond merchant who lands himself in trouble after traveling to Russia to sell a rare variety of blue diamonds to the gangster Boris Volkov (Pasha D. Lychnikoff). It seems like Lucas should've anticipated that this transaction wouldn't have worked out in his favor, and when he arrives, he finds out that his contact with the diamonds has disappeared. Now, Lucas is desperate to track him down before Boris comes looking for what he's owed. 

One might assume that a film involving a diamond heist and a forbidden romance would bring a little more excitement to the screen, but the plot of Siberia is rather plodding and dull. What makes Siberia so frustrating is how seriously this film takes itself. You can't even look at it as the kind of movie that's so bad that it's actually good in an ironic, tongue-in-cheek way. Much like an actual trek through Siberia, the entire journey is such a slog from beginning to end that audiences might feel like giving up halfway through.

Best: Keanu Reeves brings the laughs in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure

One of the all-time classic comedies, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure follows the journey of the titular Bill S. Preston (Alex Winter) and Theodore "Ted" Logan (Reeves). They're high school slackers struggling to pass their upcoming history test, and even worse, Ted's father is making plans to ship him off to military school if he can't earn a decent grade. However, doing so would alter the course of the future, as these two are destined to save humanity with their rock 'n roll music.

So, one citizen of the future, Rufus (George Carlin), must travel back to the past to help them ace their test. As a result, our heroic duo ends up going on a time-traveling adventure, enlisting familiar historical figures to help them get a good grade. It's a fantastic premise, and even though it's one of his earliest films, Reeves is absolutely fantastic, proving he's a capable comedy actor who can deliver a great performance and countless laughs with his surfer dude line delivery and unabashed earnestness.

Of course, if you need more Bill and Ted in your life, never fear. Excellent Adventure inspired two more sequels — Bogus Journey and Face the Music. And hey, everybody needs a little more Bill and Ted in their lives.

Worst: Exposed shouldn't have focused Keanu's character

Reeves plays Detective Scott Galban in the thriller Exposed. Galban is trying to uncover the mystery behind the shocking death of his partner, Detective Joey Cullen (Danny Hoch), who was undeniably corrupt. However, Cullen's colleagues worry that digging into his past will result in bad PR for the police department. Things get even stranger when Galban realizes that Isabel de La Cruz (Ana de Armas of Knives Out fame), a young woman with seemingly no prior connection to Cullen, might be involved with the case somehow.

Perhaps Exposed was doomed from the get-go. The film was originally titled Daughter of God, and the plot was supposed to focus predominantly on Isabel and her family. However, the studio behind the movie, Lionsgate, decided that centering the storyline around Reeves' character would result in higher sales. The film went through substantial changes in post-production, resulting in a very different movie than the director had initially planned. It's clear that this was a misstep in the end, and it's a shame the original narrative never saw the light of day.

Best: My Own Private Idaho is an important part of LGBTQ+ cinema

My Own Private Idaho stands out from the rest of Reeves' earlier work in Hollywood. It's loosely based on a series of Shakespeare plays, but director Gus Van Sant turned this classic tale into a thoroughly modern story. Even now, it's regarded as a classic example of New Queer Cinema, and while the subject matter wouldn't be viewed as particularly taboo today, it definitely pushed boundaries back in the early 1990s. The film is also notable for its creative, avant-garde visual style.

As for the plot, Reeves and his friend River Phoenix co-star as the wandering protagonists, Scott and Mike. These two friends work as street hustlers in Portland, but when Mike decides that he desperately needs to find his mother, they set off on a journey that takes them all the way to Italy. Mike finds himself falling for Scott, and the two have to navigate the intense emotions tied up in their complicated relationship. As a result, the film is very different from, say, John Wick or The Matrix, but it proves that Reeves has some serious dramatic chops.

Worst: Replicas is a very frustrating film

Replicas was universally panned by critics, and it wasn't a hit with audiences, either. (We're talking a 9% and 33% Rotten Tomatoes score, respectivley.) To be fair to Reeves, he was probably the only bright spot in this practically unwatchable film. But try as he might, his own performance just couldn't salvage this flick. 

In Replicas, Reeves plays William Foster, a neuroscientist who ventures into unethical territory in the midst of grief. After his wife and children die in a car crash, he decides to try cloning them. He knows he has to keep this experiment a secret, but he can't hide forever, and naturally, this risky decision comes with some unintended consequences.

Admittedly, the idea behind Replicas is actually quite interesting, and with better execution, this could've been a more engaging film. Foster's experiments do prompt some interesting questions about ethics and science. But with numerous plot holes and characters who can't seem to stop themselves from making the worst possible decision in every scenario, watching it becomes a frustrating exercise.

Best: Speed is a fun, fast-paced action flick

Speed was one of Reeves' first major blockbuster films, and this action thriller was, quite literally, a wild ride. 

In Speed, Reeves stars as Jack Traven, a SWAT officer working with the LAPD. Jack and his partner, Harry (Jeff Daniels), think that they've managed to stop extortionist bomber Howard Payne (Dennis Hopper) after he attempted to hold a group of elevator passengers for ransom. But when Jack witnesses a city bus explode, he realizes that they're not out of the woods yet. As it turns out, Payne has rigged another bus with a bomb, and if the vehicle's speed drops below 50 miles per hour, it will explode and kill everyone on board. Now, it's up to Jack to defuse the explosive and get everyone to safety. 

Admittedly, the premise of Speed could've come across as silly, but as the movie picks up, it's impossible to look away from the screen. And the genuine on-screen chemistry between Reeves and his co-star, Sandra Bullock, certainly didn't hurt, either.

Worst: Even Cowgirls Get the Blues is a lackluster adaptation of a lighthearted novel

This 1993 film adaptation of Tom Robbins' novel of the same name came as a huge disappointment to fans of the popular book. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues follows the strange journeys of Sissy Hankshaw (Uma Thurman), a woman who was born with abnormally large thumbs. However, she doesn't consider this to be a defect, and she makes the most of it by becoming a hitch-hiker, traveling all over America with the help of kind strangers. She eventually ends up working on the Rubber Rose Ranch, but Hankshaw isn't your typical cowgirl, and she can't stop getting into trouble on the ranch. 

As for Reeves, he has a small role in this film as Julian Gitche, an artist with whom Sissy has a brief, failed romantic fling. And sadly, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues fails to capture the lighthearted spirit of the novel is was based on. The disjointed plot doesn't quite work on screen, and the characters aren't particularly endearing. Perhaps some stories are best left on the page.

Best: Dangerous Liaisons is a lurid and luscious period piece

Dangerous Liaisons, a period film based on the French play and novel Les liaisons dangereuses, made a great impression on the critics. It was even nominated for Best Picture, and while it lost out, it managed to scoop up three Academy Awards (Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Art Direction, and Best Costume Design). And while Reeves plays a supporting character in this film, it's definitely one of his best roles. In the film, Reeves portrays Le Chevalier Raphael Danceny, a courtier to Uma Thurman's Cecile. 

If you've always been intrigued by royal drama, Dangerous Liaisons will draw you in. Set in France's royal court in the 18th century, the film explores the romantic exploits and secret trysts of these high-society figures. Marquise de Merteuil (Glenn Close) and her former lover Vicomte de Valmont (John Malkovich) make bets on who they should seduce next, but their little schemes rapidly spiral out of control, especially when Reeves' character interrupts their little scheme. It's easy to get caught up in the storyline, but the gorgeous, intricately detailed sets and costumes also make Dangerous Liaisons a visually stunning film.

Worst: Johnny Mnemonic was a major sci-fi flop

Based on the story of the same name by William Gibson, Reeves stars as the titular character in Johnny Mnemonic. Johnny has a cybernetic brain implant that can store all kinds of information, and in a dystopian society ruled by megacorporations where everyone is inextricably connected to the internet, his abilities come in handy. In Johnny's world, transmitting sensitive data can be dangerous, so as a "mnemonic courier," it's often up to him to carry certain information to different parties. However, doing so means risking his childhood memories, and he wants to remove his implant to get them back ... but unfortunately for Johnny, his work isn't quite done yet. 

Johnny Mnemonic didn't exactly get a glowing response from the critics. In fact, Reeves actually earned himself a Razzie nomination for Worst Actor, so it's safe to say that this role was a low point in his career. Although it was marketed as an exciting cyberpunk thriller, the plot completely falls flat, and worse still, this '90s film has aged badly. With its reliance on super dated technology, there's nothing truly memorable about the futuristic worldbuilding in Johnny Mnemonic

Best: The Matrix is Keanu Reeves' most iconic movie

The Matrix was more than a film ... it was a cultural phenomenon. The movie won four Academy Awards, and it impacted an entire generation of filmmakers. And while Reeves was already a well-known actor when The Matrix was released, this film catapulted his career to a whole new level.

In The Matrix, Reeves stars as Neo, a hacker who's unknowingly living in a dystopia where humanity has been trapped in a simulated reality called "the Matrix." This simulation was designed by machines so they could control human beings by keeping them in pods, all while harvesting their bodies for energy. When Neo discovers the truth about his world, he's given a choice. He can take the blue pill and return to his old life, or he can take the red pill and finally accept reality. He knows he can never truly go back, and instead, he steps up to rebel against the machines.

As a result, we get a movie full of philosophical questions, incredible martial arts fights, and some of the greatest quotes in cinematic history ("I know kung fu," "There is no spoon"). The movie also revolutionized Hollywood with its innovative camerawork, and it gave newfound fame and respect to Reeves, thanks to his Zen-like performance. Honestly, The Matrix isn't just one of Keanu Reeve's greatest films — it's one of the greatest science fiction films of all time.

Worst: Generation Um... is ... um ... not good

Generation Um... just might be the worst dud of Reeves' entire career. Even the title is underwhelming, and things don't really improve from there. This mumblecore indie flick was so unwatchable that it actually managed to score a whopping 0% on Rotten Tomatoes.

In Generation Um..., Reeves plays John, an escort-service driver who's lost all sense of direction in life. The film reveals 24 hours of his aimless existence in New York City, in which he meets up with two young women, Violet (Bojana Novakovic) and Mia (Adelaide Clemens). The film is an attempt at delving into urban alienation, but it falls short of this mission. In one scene, John points a camcorder at the women and asks them to "say something interesting." Neither offers up anything particularly poignant, and that basically sums up the film as a whole. In the end, this movie basically shrugs its shoulders and comes to the tired conclusion that young people these days just might be a little vain and self-absorbed.