Top 10 Films Of Keanu Reeves

Neal Damiano reveals the best Keanu Reeves films in this top 10 featuring an eclectic mix of action-adventure, character-driven drama and sadistic horror…

10. Speed (de Bont, 1994)

best keanu reeves films, speedSpeed is an enjoyable thrill ride that made the most of its straightforward plot with high-octane set pieces and a great supporting performance from Sandra Bullock. Reeves himself was fine, but he was also at his most traditionally single-minded and heroic here. Speed isn’t the best Keanu Reeves film because it lacks a bit of originality following the same formulaic hero-saves-the-girl format but the actor comes off as a genuine saviour and a badass at times which makes for an appealing combination of hero and heroine.

9. Knock Knock (Roth, 2015)

best keanu reeves filmsEli Roth directed a truly frightening thriller and to be honest I didn’t think Reeves could pull off traditional horror, but he is pretty convincing as a adulterous husband. Definitely one of the best Keanu Reeves films, Knock Knock is completely over the top insane. The two women dominate the scree, raging vengeance on cheating men. At times Reeves comes off weak and unforgiving but he handles his business.

8. The Replacements (Deutch, 2000)

best keanu reeves filmsThe Replacements is such an amusing light-hearted, sarcastic film. Reeves starring as a second string quarterback hired to play for a losing football team The Washington Sentinels. A formulaic but funny film due to Reeves’ character who is flooded with contrived moral conviction but doesn’t want to let people down. Not a great film by any stretch but Reeves carries it with his enthusiastic charm and wit.

7. Parenthood (Howard, 1989)

best keanu reeves filmsParenthood is a silly story but still one of the best Keanu Reeves films. It deserves a mention even if he is by no means the star of the film. It’s hard to outshine Steve Martin, who plays Gil, a hard-working guy just trying to take care of a very big family. Reeves plays Tod, the tearaway boyfriend of Gil’s sister’s daughter, who manages to find his place within the increasingly chaotic Buckman family household. Reeves is delightfully quirky here as a laid back slacker kind of reminiscent of another character he once played.

6. The Matrix (Wachowski Brothers, 1999)

best keanu reeves filmsThe Matrix is a fascinating film posing all sorts of questions and philosophies on life. Is it real or imagined? It questioned people’s thoughts on reality and perception. Reeves himself is perfectly cast as the slightly spacey, emotionally detached loner who morphs into a trenchcoat-wearing badass. The actor is very dynamic in this role and proves he can handle action roles with ease. The film looks amazing thanks to its inventive, 360-degree camera work and sharp action sequences.

5. Point Break (Bigelow, 1991)

best keanu reeves filmsPoint Break got shunned by critics and I don’t know why. It’s an interesting story and delivers a non-stop adrenaline rush, but it also displays some very good acting. Reeves stars as college football quarterback-turned-FBI agent Johnny Utah. We suppose the film was instantly greenlit once that was pitched. But it gets even better. Utah is assigned to infiltrate a band of surfers led by Bodhi (Patrick Swayze) who is believed to be tied to a string of bank robberies. Reeves found himself torn between his duty and his newfound friendship to the free-spirited Bodhi. The story is essentially about loyalty. Reeves although at times is over acting it somehow fits with the story. He remains convincing but the love story is cheesy. Bodhi, the soul surfer, does teach the wide-eyed cop a lesson in the end.

4. The Devil’s Advocate (Hackford, 1997)

best keanu reeves filmsA dark, hybrid film: part legal drama, part supernatural horror film, part psychological character study. It’s a mix that mostly works. Reeves stars as Kevin Lomax, a bright attorney with no hang ups about defending clearly guilty clients. An invitation to join an esteemed New York law firm leads to serious temptation when Lomax discovers that one of its partners, John Milton (Al Pacino), is actually Satan. Both Pacino and Reeves delivered some of their best performances of the ’90s in this film, perhaps benefiting from a strong script. Reeves brought emotional subtlety to his portrayal of Lomax while Pacino layed his character on aggressively. The duality brought an interesting contrast.

3. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (Herek, 1989)

best keanu reeves filmsBill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is just a fun movie. Two stoner dudes in a band called The Wyld Stallyns want to make it big but first must pass a history exam. What could possibly go wrong? Bill & Ted race against time and pall around with everyone from Billy the Kid to Abraham Lincoln to an ice cream-chugging Napoleon. Reeves and Alex Winter fit their roles like a glove, portraying Bill and Ted as equal parts surfer dudes and metal heads. The film deserves its high place because I do believe this is the one that let us know Reeves was destined for stardom. Reeves is extremely entertaining along with Winter in this offbeat comedy.

2. My Own Private Idaho (Van Sant, 1991)

best keanu reeves filmsReeves was no doubt looking for more heartier roles in the 1990s. In fear of being typecast as a rocker stoner dude. Reeves plays Scott, son of a politician from a well to do family. He rejects his silver spoon existence by hanging with street people and the poor. His best friend is Mikey played by River Phoenix, a hustler who he takes under his wing. I believe the film really displays his acting ability. Reeves really has to stretch himself here giving a heartfelt performance as a dear friend to a lost soul. Then has to turn his back in a twist of bad fate. My Own Private Idaho is very loosely based on Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Henry IV, Part 2, and Henry V. Though a bit light on plot, the film dealt with the struggles faced by these young men as they dealt with day-to-day trials and Mikey’s quest to reconnect with his mother.

1. River’s Edge (Hunter, 1986)

best keanu reeves filmRiver’s Edge offers an engaging battle based of a California murder case. John (Daniel Roebuck) confesses to his group of high school friends (including Reeves, Crispin Glover and Ione Skye) that he murdered his girlfriend. After finding her body, the disaffected and emotionally detached teens struggle with the desire to protect their friend and the need to do the right thing. This is the film that really displayed Reeves’ acting ability because up until this film he had only played comical light-hearted roles. River’s Edge broke him out and proved he can actually act. It’s a fascinating film and Reeves is so charismatic in a dark and gloomy way. His chemistry bounces of Ione Skye like a finely tuned instrument. Reeves convincingly plays the voice of reason to a group of desensitized kids.
Read more about Keanu Reeves’ best film in Top 10 Films editor Dan Stephens’ review

Written and compiled by Neal Damiano

Your turn: what is the best Keanu Reeves film?

About the Author
Neal Damiano calls himself “an unhip film geek” who mixes his passion for movies with an enthusiasm for travel, music and journalism.

Related Posts

  1. Dan Heaton Reply

    I’m surprised there’s no mention of John Wick, which is one of my favorites from Reeves in a long time. It’s such a crazy B movie in the vein of action films from the ’80s and early ’90s. I’m surprised to have never heard of Knock Knock, though it sounds interesting. I’d also put Bram Stoker’s Dracula somewhere in the 8-10 range, though Reeves has more of a supporting role. So I’m not sure it really fits. I agree with most of the choices, though I’ve have The Matrix closer to the top. Nice job.

  2. Dan Grant Reply

    Great list but John Wick would make my top 5. River’s Edge is terrific of course but I’d have Matrix as his number one. Terrific piece though Neal.

  3. Neal Damiano Reply

    I’ve never seen John Wick and I have to be honest in my lists. The Matrix was great but I feel it’s not a film that stretches or showcases his acting ability.

    Thanks for reading

  4. Dan Grant Reply

    I would highly highly highly recommend you watching John Wick. It’s one of the most stylish films I’ve ever seen. And he was terrific in it. Your list is really well done and of course it has the who’s who of his great films on their period or is that just fantastic and I loved his performance in Parenthood. I always enjoy reading your pieces, Neal.

  5. Callum Reply

    John Wick is the big omission for me. Great film and far better than Knock Knock which I could barely sit through.

    • Neal Damiano Reply

      Knock Knock is really just a ripoff of the grindhouse classic “Death Game” came out in 1977. Eli is a real fan of horror films.

  6. Callum Reply

    Just noticed you’ve not seen John Wick. I’d recommend catching it.

  7. Neal Damiano Reply

    Thanks for reading, Callum. That is the beauty of opinion. I will check it out.

  8. Lee Hicks Reply

    Nice list. Top 5 is perfect. I’d perhaps push Speed ahead of The Matrix but I guess the Wachowskis’ film was the more innovative/influential film.

  9. Dan Reply

    Good stuff Neal.

    I rather like Speed a bit more than you. It’s definitely one of my favourite Reeves films. I think its simply premise is a big reason why it’s so successful as an action film and you’re right, the two leads make it work. There’s also a great support cast too.

    I’m not going to argue with River’s Edge at number one – a great film. Perhaps I’d switch your one and two in my own top 10 but they’d definitely be the stand outs of his career.

    But I think his performance in Bill and Ted gets underrated. That’s such a re-watchable film and I love the sequel too.

    Like others on here, I recommend seeing John Wick which was something of a comeback for him.

  10. Lisa Key Reply

    Love Keanu and all these movies

  11. Mark Fraser Reply

    I’ve only seen seven of these, and based on that I agree with choices 1 and 2. But what about Street Kings? I thought it was a pretty strong performance amongst a strong cast (Hugh Laurie, Forrest Whittaker).

    I agree with Dan that Speed could have creeped up the order a bit, even if it is a film I’m not totally fond of.

    Also, Larry Kasdan’s I Love You to Death – he bounces off pretty well against William Hurt.

    Nevertheless, hats off to another well written list. I don’t like Roth, but at some point I’m definitely gunna watch Knock Knock thanks to this narrative.

  12. Rory Reply

    Good top 10 Neal. Glad Speed crept on there as it’s my favourite Reeves film.

  13. Neal Damiano Reply

    Speed just did not do it for me. I don’t fancy formulaic films. ( me trying to sound British, lol)

  14. Melissa Reply

    The selection is good. I would have also included Youngblood and Much Ado About Nothing (and others). ?

    He may not have a leading role in some of his films, but I enjoy his portrayals in the storylines.

    • Dan Grant Reply

      Youngblood? Really lol. He was basically an extra in that.

      • Neal Damiano Reply

        I really liked Nic Cage in Fast Times At Ridgemont High (laughing)

        Oh Dan Grant I hear you!

  15. Dan Grant Reply

    I know I’m probably alone in my praise of his performance in Dracula but I really like him in that movie as well. I think he gets a bad rap butt he’s actually pretty good in my opinion in most films that I’ve seen him in.

  16. Dan Grant Reply

    Melissa, I’m not making fun of you, not at all. But as Neal said, if you include something like Youngblood, then stuff like Nic Cage in Fast Times, Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Rundown and Bob Hope in Spies Like Us is a good comparison.

  17. Neal Damiano Reply

    In a acting sense, I think performance wise My Own Private Idaho and River’s Edge best represent him.

    • Dan Reply

      Definitely. Some of his earliest work is some of his most raw and it suits him. I still think he did a great job in Bill and Ted.

  18. Lyndon Wells Reply

    Good list.
    With Keanu Reeves you can just as easily put together a Top10 bad Kaenau Reeves films!
    Agree with what many have said, John Wick must be on the list, the whole film is made with a wry smile and this time Keanu is in on the joke!
    Will always be a big fan of Bill and Ted, glad it is so high on the list.

  19. Neal Damiano Reply

    With that said I believe it’s much harder to write a top good Keanu Reeves list. (Laughing)
    Thanks for reading and the feedback, mate

  20. Neal Damiano Reply

    @LisaKey

    Have you never seen My Own Private Idaho??

  21. ruth Reply

    Great list! I gotta say I LOVE John Wick and I also enjoyed his performance in the romantic drama A Walk In The Clouds. Of course Speed & The Matrix are awesome!

    • Neal Damiano Reply

      I don’t like romantic comedies, although I did like Sweet November.

  22. Diana Reply

    Am really really pleased to see here “My Own Private Idaho”, a real gem and an often overlooked movie. But, wait…No “Constantine”? 🙂

    • Neal Damiano Reply

      Thanks Diana!
      MOPI is such an interesting gem indeed. I never saw Constantine do it wouldn’t be true to put it up on the list. I will definitely have to check it out soon.
      Thanks for reading ?

  23. eben Reply

    I actually like 47 Ronin surprised you didn’t mention it?

    • Neal Damiano Reply

      @eben

      Never saw it.

Leave a Reply

*