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The Saddest Keanu Reeves Movie Moments Ever

As the man himself would say: Whoa. Keanu Reeves is currently enjoying quite the career upswing. Once mocked for the way his Bill & Ted surfer dude accent seemed to appear in every role, Reeves is now lauded for his dramatic and action-oriented performances. Globally famous, he's re-emerged as an enormously bankable starThe Matrix and the John Wick series have made veritable mountains of money. Has the success of his recent outings gone to his head? Not in the least. Just check out his part in Always Be My Maybe, in which he plays a goofily fictionalized version of himself, for proof on that. Only Reeves could pull off asking a waiter for a dish that "plays with time."

But it's not all beat-'em-ups and laugh riots for Keanu Revees: The powerhouse actor has the chops to carry genuine drama and aching pathos. Over the course of his long career, he's had plenty of chances to show off this skill. We're here to examine Reeves' most tear-jerking moments.

Permanent Record

In 1998, Reeves starred in Permanent Record, a teen drama that saw him dig deep into raw, ragged emotion. As Chris Townsend, he portrays a shaggy-haired goofball who plays in a band with his best friend David, played by Alan Boyce. David is popular, well liked, a great big brother, and an accomplished composer. But David is keeping the secret of his depression hidden from everyone, and when he commits suicide, it's Chris who's left picking up the pieces. David's friends and family think David's fall off the side of a cliff was an accident, but Chris, who receives David's suicide note in the mail, knows otherwise. In one of the film's most compelling scenes, Chris is driving drunk and almost hits David's little brother. Facing the screams of David's father, Chris crumbles, falling into him, sobbing that he should've saved David. It's a gutting moment, fueled by a truly powerful performance from Reeves.

Point Break

FBI Agent Johnny Utah has a lot to contend with in 1991's hit action drama, Point Break. Once a college football star, he's now tasked with going undercover to take down a group of surfing bank robbers, led by Patrick Swayze's sagely Bodhi. Johnny forms a brotherly bond with Bodhi, making it difficult to take him down. This is further complicated by Johnny's growing romance with Tyler, a sassy surfer girl who gives Johnny his pass into this new world. Inevitably, Bodhi realizes Johnny is undercover. But when Johnny has a clear shot at Bodhi, he doesn't take it, instead shooting into the air in agony. Things go from bad to worse when Tyler discovers Johnny's secret and cuts off all contact.

In the action-packed third act, Johnny suffers tremendously when his partner is killed and he is made to watch a video of Tyler, kidnapped and in anguish. Still, Johnny struggles to leave behind his relationship with Bodhi. It's a climactic ending further heightened by the arrival of a truly once-in-a-lifetime wave, which Johnny allows Bodhi to surf, knowing he will not survive. Watching Reeves balance his character's contradictory allegiances isn't just intense — it's tear-jerking.

My Own Private Idaho

1991's My Own Private Idaho sees Reeves star alongside the late River Phoenix. Squatting in an abandoned building in Portland, Mike (Phoenix), Scott (Reeves), and a motley crew of young vagabonds do just about anything to survive. But Scott, whose father is the mayor of Portland, is really just biding his time with the group, as he awaits his 21st birthday and his inheritance. Mike, Scott's surrogate father Bob, and all their friends think Scott's going to rescue them with this incoming fortune — but when he meets a pretty girl in Italy, he leaves Mike and his friends behind. The saddest part of this tragedy is the bond that is broken between Scott and Mike, highlighted in a touching scene by a campfire, and one in which Scott takes care of Mike when he experiences his narcolepsy spells.

When Scott's father dies, his funeral takes place across the cemetery from Bob's, who has died from a heart attack. As Mike and their friends dance around Bob's casket, a polished Scott looks on. Does he wish to join them? Does he regret his betrayal? The film lets this moment of ambiguity linger, to potent effect. It is further enhanced by an ending that leaves the question of Mike and Scott's tattered friendship open. Scott made his choice ... but that doesn't mean he can't make a different one later.


Reeves plays Jack Traven in the 1994 action blockbuster, Speed. Though the premise is simple, the film is literally an intense ride. Dennis Hopper plays Howard Payne, deranged extortionist who sets off bombs all over LA. Jack is the police officer who's been tracking the madman's moves, but keeps coming up short. When Payne puts a bomb on a local bus, with specific instructions that it'll blow if it goes below 50 MPH, Jack gets onto the bus to rescue the passengers. In one of her first major film roles, Sandra Bullock co-stars as Annie, a passenger on the bus who ends up connecting with Jack romantically. 

Already in the midst of an intense situation, Jack's emotions are heightened when yet another bomb goes off, killing his partner Harry. When Jack gets the news of Harry's death, he violently screams and narrows his focus, determined to get justice for his partner and everyone who's died because of this crazy bomber. It's a moment of striking sorrow in a blockbuster film, and all the more powerful for it.

The Matrix

1999 began Reeves' iconic run as Neo in The Matrix series. As the singularly named hero, Reeves plays a curious computer nerd who's later reborn as The One, chosen to save humanity from the false reality of the Matrix. It takes Neo a while to get hip to his new role, and just when he finally starts to believe, he's shot repeatedly. The One shouldn't die if he's actually The One, but Neo, in this moment, truly appears to be dead. On his journey in this new world, he grows close with Trinity, a tough soldier played by Carrie-Anne Moss. In this climactic moment, she leans over Neo's lifeless body and confesses her true feelings. She kisses him, and Neo comes back to life, stronger than ever. He defeats the bad guys, proving he truly is The One. It's a classic scene, played with a twist, resulting in a seriously affecting bit of romance.

Sweet November

In the 2001 tearjerker Sweet November, audiences see Reeves play a character who's initially a real jerk. Nelson Moss is an advertising executive used to winning: He lives well, drives an expensive car, and dates beautiful women he's not very nice to. When Nelson loses a deal and his life seems to be crumbling around him, he meets an eccentric woman named Sara, played by Charlize Theron. Sara is offbeat in every way, the total opposite of Nelson, or anyone he spends time with. But her eccentricities rub off on Nelson, and they agree to have a brief affair during the month of November. 

Nelson's feelings for Sara grow deep, but everything falls apart when Sara reveals her terminal cancer diagnosis. Understanding that Sara will eventually die is hard for Nelson, but he finds happiness in the ways Sara changed his life. This comes to a head in the movie's final scene, in which Sara blindfolds him, then takes him to the park they spent their first date in. Nelson is devastated to take the blindfold off and realize Sara is nowhere to be found ... but he knows, as does the audience, that their time together was worth the sorrow.

The Lake House

In 2006, Reeves again teamed up with Sandra Bullock in the romantic drama The Lake House. Heavy on the romance and saturated in magical realism, the film focuses on the time warp relationship between Alex and Kate. Alex is an architect who moves into a glass house by a lake outside of Chicago. Kate has recently moved out of the glass house, but continues to check the mailbox. She and Alex begin writing back and forth ... but as it is revealed, they are actually writing from two different time periods. Their words enrapture each other, and they fall in love. But when Alex stands Kate up for a date in her time, she's bummed and confused. Alex in the past doesn't know why he would stand her up. Spoiler alert: It's because he died, in an accident Kate already witnessed.

In a thrilling scene, Kate works to intercept the accident so her relationship with Alex can flourish. She doesn't know until the last possible second that her attempt to save him has worked — but then, she sees the flag on the mailbox go down. At last, the two meet in real time, leaving not a single eye dry.

The Matrix Revolutions

In the first Matrix movie, Neo discovers his true identity and meets Trinity, the woman who goes on to capture his heart. In the sequel, The Matrix Reloaded, Neo and Trinity figure out some of the kinks that come with being partners in love and in war. The third installment, 2003's The Matrix Revolutions, rounds out Neo's legend. 

Like so many stories of prophets and chosen heroes, Neo's (seemingly) ends when he sacrifices himself for the greater good. He loses Trinity and his eyesight, but understands these costs as necessary. In the final battle, Neo and Agent Smith duke it out in a pool of muddy water, each blow more impactful than the last. Smith thinks he has defeated Neo, but Neo taps into his Chosen One abilities, and becomes his enemy so he can destroy his enemy. Smith and all of the other agent clones are blown to pieces, and Neo is finally able to die. His arms are outstretched as he succumbs, catching one last glimpse of the world. For fans of the series, it is crushing to see Neo's story end — but it's definitely a comfort to see it conclude with such a great scene. Plus, a fourth installment of the series has been announced for 2022.

John Wick

Dogs must truly be man's best friend, because in 2014's John Wick, the title character comes out of hit man retirement to exact revenge on his pup's killers. Wick lost the love of his life prior to the events of the film, and the dog she leaves him is his only connection to her spirit. Losing that connection turns his sadness into rage — explosive, kick-ass, bullet-riddled rage. 

The early scenes of the movie chronicle Wick's burgeoning bond with the dog, who is named Daisy. They share breakfast, a wake-up time, and Wick's incredibly sweet 1969 Mustang. Russian gangsters insist on buying the car, but Wick refuses. These jerks don't take no for an answer, however. That night, Daisy barks, detecting intruders. The men brutally beat Wick, steal his car ... and kill little Daisy. It's a moment of utter despair. Sure, Wick's ensuing rampage is entertaining as all get-out, and, at times, very funny. But you never forget the reason he goes back to the hit man life, because it's just so darn sad.

Bram Stoker's Dracula

In 1992, Reeves stepped into the supernatural, playing Jonathan Harker in Francis Ford Coppola's horror adaptation, Bram Stoker's Dracula. Harker is tasked with travelling from London to Transylvania to close a real estate deal for Count Dracula. He's greeted by a mysterious carriage, pulled by dark horses. He looks through the curtains on the journey, and sees that the carriage seems to be floating on the side of a cliff, gliding to a very creepy castle. Harker is soon swept into Dracula's evil plan to sacrifice him to his vampire brides. 

Watching the young solicitor face his doom is pretty painful on its own. Luckily, he's able to escape and return to his fiancé, Mina, played by Winona Ryder. But Dracula later shows up in London, luring the naive Mina to him. Harker is forced to watch his pretty bride transform into a vicious vampire in a truly wrenching scene. Saddened by this development and remembering his own torture, he grapples with the decision to end Mina's life ... or find a way to destroy the seemingly unstoppable Dracula. 

A Scanner Darkly

Based on the novel of the same name by Philip K. Dick, the 2006 thriller A Scanner Darkly was a departure for writer-director Richard Linklater. Known for films like Dazed and Confused and School of Rock, Linklater here takes audiences into a surreal world of drugs and government corruption. Reeves plays undercover cop Bob Arctor. A new drug has hit the streets that consumes the population to the point where the war on drugs is decidedly lost. Eventually, Arctor realizes the police are actually following and investigating him for his involvement in a drug ring. Playing his love interest Donna Hawthorne, Winona Ryder is unassuming and just along for the ride — or at least she seems to be. We learn that Donna is really a cop, who worked to get Bob hooked on drugs so he could infiltrate the rehab facility they believe is growing and supplying the drug to the masses. 

In the end, Donna is remorseful for her involvement in Bob's demise — but Bob's demise has happened regardless. In a gut-punch scene, Bob is shipped off to a farm, run by the rehab facility. It is unclear if he will recover his mental faculties, damaged as they have been by the drug. All he can do is work by rote, which he does ... potentially forever.

A Walk in the Clouds

Reeves plays Paul Sutton in the 1995 romantic drama A Walk in the Clouds. A soldier back from World War II, Paul is eager to see his wife Betty. He enters their apartment ... and is surprised by stacks of his unopened letters. Attempting to adjust, Paul leaves to work as a salesman and meets the beautiful Victoria, played by actress Aitana Sánchez-Gijón. It is quickly revealed that she has had an affair with one of her professors, and is pregnant. Afraid to face her family with this news, Paul offers to pretend to be Victoria's husband. They keep up the lie for as long as they can and fall into a bittersweet love, knowing their time together can't last. Victoria comes clean to her family in time, and Paul goes home to Betty. 

She's shacked up with someone else in the meantime, and wants to get their marriage annulled. In a breathlessly emotional scene, Paul pleads with Victoria's father for her hand in marriage. They get into a physical struggle, and a lantern is thrown into the vineyard, setting it ablaze. Paul, Victoria, and the rest of the family work to extinguish the flames, but the fire is too strong and the vineyard is destroyed. Though things do end happily, this scene is one of tragic intensity you won't soon forget.