Keanu Reeves: his best films that you may have missed, from John Wick to Dangerous Liaisons

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Keanu Reeves has been in the news this week – for somehow seeming to have fallen into Matthew Perry’s bad books.

How or why, the details are unclear, but in a new tell-all memoir called Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing, the Friends star talks about his admiration for several late actors including River Phoenix – and singles out Reeves for having survived them.

“Why is it that the original thinkers like River Phoenix and Heath Ledger die, but Keanu Reeves still walks among us?” Perry reportedly writes in his memoir, which is set to be released in the US on November 1. According to Deadline, Reeves “is mentioned specifically in multiple passages in the book.”

Yesterday, Perry shared a statement on the matter. He said: “I’m actually a big fan of Keanu. I just chose a random name, my mistake. I apologize. I should have used my own name instead.”

According to IMBD, the two stars have not worked together – but they are both in their fifties, and both started in Hollywood at a similar time (Perry made his screen debut in 1988, while Reeves made his acting debut in the TV show Hangin’ In in 1984).

The news story has, however, reminded us of just how many Reeves films we have enjoyed over the years. From The Matrix (of course), to John Wick and Johnny Mnemonic, he is our round-up of Reeves’ best films that you may have forgotten about.

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, 1989

Reeves was just 25 years old when Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure was released. Ted (Reeves) and Bill (who is played by Alex Winter) are two high school students who travel through time collecting historical figures for their school history presentation.

The film was a huge success, making $40 million against its $10 million budget. A second film, Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, was released in 1991, and a third, Bill & Ted Face the Music, was incredibly released a massive 29 years after that, in 2020. The third instalment was a box office flop, making $6.3 million against its $25 million budget, but diehard fans were happy to see the duo back on screen again.

The Matrix, 1999

Although Reeves has made over seventy films, he is still (and always will be?) best remembered for playing Neo in the 1999 film The Matrix by directors Lana and Lily Wachowski.

Tapping into the human fear that perhaps we are just pawns in a larger system, the film follows Neo, who is given the opportunity to find out what’s really going on in the universe. He discovers that humans are being farmed as energy sources for aliens – the entire world is just a computerised projection, created to sedate human beings. But once he knows the world is just a programme, it can start to bent to his needs.

The film was a massive hit, is an undeniable classic, and has made close to half a billion dollars worldwide at the box office today.

John Wick, 2014

Reeves plays an assassin in this 2014 action film, which also stars Alfie Allen (Game of Thrones), Michael Nyqvist (Beck) and Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man). After some men break into his house, steal his car vintage car and kill his puppy, Wick sets off on a revenge mission to find them.

It may sound a bit daft, but the film did well at the box office and with critics. Rolling Stone said: “I know, it sounds basic to the point of brainless. Don’t let that discourage you. John Wick is the kind of fired-up, ferocious B-movie fun some of us can’t get enough of.” The New York Times said: “This crafty revenge thriller delivers with so much style – and even some wit – that the lack of substance takes longer than it should to become problematic.”

Part two was released in 2017, and part three was released in 2019. Parts 4 and 5 are also in the works.

Much Ado About Nothing, 1993

This was by no means Reeves’ greatest performance, but the film is still a real hoot and it’s still highly enjoyable watching Reeves play Don John, Don Pedro’s nefarious half-brother.

Kenneth Branagh adapted, starred in and directed the film, which also featured Emma Thompson, Kate Beckinsale, Denzel Washington and Michael Keaton. The film was nominated for a Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1993 and won Emma Thompson Best Actress at the Evening Standard British Film Awards.

Johnny Mnemonic, 1995

Absolutely bonkers, and running along a similar theme to The Matrix, the film is set in 2021 and follows the story of what happens to Reeves’ character Johnny Mnemonic, a data courier, when he has information secretly implanted into his brain. In order to make space for the data, Mnemonic has had to boot out some of his childhood memories. It’s a race against the clock as he must retrieve the data in 48 hours or will die. At the same time, he is being chased by gangsters.

The film, which starred Dolph Lundgren (The Punisher) and Dina Meyer (Beverly Hills, 90210), was been largely panned by the critics – it came nowhere close to being as successful as other contemporary films that dealt with a similar subject matter, such as 1982’s Blade Runner – but nevertheless, we enjoyed it.

Dangerous Liaisons, 1988

Although Reeves does not have a starring role in this film, it should still be on the list. The film, which also starred Glenn Close, John Malkovich, Michelle Pfeiffer, Uma Thurman and Peter Capaldi, details the increasingly deceitful games that were played between members of the royal court in 18th-century France and was based on Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’ 1782 novel of the same name. In the film, Reeves plays Le Chevalier Raphael Danceny, a suitor of Cécile de Volanges (who was played by Thurman).

Dangerous Liaisons received seven Oscar nominations in 1988, including for Best Picture, and received high praise from the critics. The New Yorker said it was, “heaven – alive in a way that movies rarely are.”