Since his feature film debut in Youngblood and his breakthrough role in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Keanu Reeves has been one of the most celebrated movie stars in the world. Thanks to the success of the John Wick franchise, Reeves is currently more famous and revered than ever.
From Speed to Point Break to The Matrix trilogy, Reeves’ most popular movies tend to belong to the action genre. He’s been in plenty of critically panned action movies, but also plenty that were widely praised.
10 The Matrix Revolutions (6.8)
As the war between the machines and the humans comes to a head in The Matrix Revolutions, Neo confronts his arch nemesis Agent Smith in the hopes of saving Zion.
It’s common for the third movie of a trilogy to be panned by critics – Spider-Man 3, Ocean’s Thirteen, The Godfather Part III – because the expectations of a big finale are impossible to live up to. The Wachowskis couldn’t hope to conclude their cyberpunk saga about the fate of humanity in a satisfying way.
9 Street Kings (6.8)
Directed by Suicide Squad’s David Ayer, Street Kings stars Reeves as a detective reeling from the death of his wife who questions his friends’ loyalty when he’s accused of murdering a fellow officer.
The storytelling in Street Kings was a little formulaic for some critics’ tastes, but it was interesting to see Reeves in the role of a morally dubious antihero.
8 Constantine (7.0)
Adapted from DC’s Hellblazer comic book, Constantine focuses on the titular exorcist and his supernatural ability to communicate with angels and demons. Any great Constantine movie would need to lean into the character’s darker aspects, with swearing and sexuality and graphic violence.
This movie ended up getting an R rating from the MPAA, but according to Collider, the producers aimed for a PG-13 rating at the behest of Warner Bros. So, tragically, the filmmakers avoided a faithfully hard-R tone so they wouldn’t get an R rating and they got an R rating anyway.
7 The Matrix Reloaded (7.2)
After the first Matrix movie provided Neo with a superhero origin story, The Matrix Reloaded saw him using those superpowers for good. As Zion prepares for war with the machines, Neo rescues the Keymaker and ultimately confronts the Architect.
The second Matrix movie might not be as groundbreaking or thought-provoking as its predecessor, but it has plenty of memorable action scenes – particularly the freeway chase.
6 Speed (7.2)
While the premise of “Die Hard on a bus” might sound ridiculous, Speed is one of the most thrilling action movies ever made. Reeves plays a cop who hops on a bus that’s been rigged with a bomb that will explode if the vehicle’s speed drops below 50mph.
Thanks to its high-stakes storytelling, high-octane set pieces, and the unforgettably sinister villain played by Dennis Hopper, Speed became one of the most critically acclaimed action films of the ‘90s.
5 Point Break (7.3)
Putting a unique spin on the familiar “buddy cop” concept, Point Break stars Reeves as an FBI agent who goes undercover with a gang of surfers who rob banks. He becomes so endeared to their charismatic leader Bodhi, played by Patrick Swayze, that he doesn’t want to turn them in.
Kathryn Bigelow’s typically visceral direction and Reeves’ tangible on-screen chemistry with Swayze managed to overcome the ridiculous plotting of Point Break and made it an action classic.
4 John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (7.4)
Following on from the shocking cliffhanger ending of the second John Wick movie, New York’s deadliest hitman begins the third movie – subtitled Parabellum – with every assassin in the world gunning for his head.
As seen by the critical panning of The Matrix Revolutions, third movies are often where franchises start to falter. But by continuing to expand the series’ worldbuilding and offering up a series of increasingly exciting action sequences, Parabellum kept John Wick fans satisfied.
3 John Wick (7.4)
Drawing inspiration from film noirs and spaghetti westerns, John Wick tells the masterfully simplistic story of an ex-hitman returning to action to avenge his murdered puppy with serious stylistic gusto.
It’s safe to say that Reeves’ career wouldn’t be where it is today without John Wick. This is the movie that made audiences fall back in love with Reeves. After it launched a franchise, the actor’s stardom mirrored that of the character: “Yeah, I’m thinking I’m back!”
2 John Wick: Chapter 2 (7.5)
After killing half the gangsters in New York on his way to avenge his puppy in the first John Wick movie, Baba Yaga heads to Rome in the sequel and finds himself with a hefty bounty on his head.
With just as much slick style as the first movie and much larger-scale worldbuilding, John Wick: Chapter 2 managed to satisfy as a follow-up to its sleeper hit predecessor.
1 The Matrix (8.7)
At the beginning of the first Matrix movie, Reeves is a bored office worker living a mundane existence in what he believes to be the real world. He’s shocked to discover that humanity’s entire reality is just a VR experience created by machines in the future to distract humans while they use their bodies as living batteries – and he’s “The One” prophesized to save the human race.
More than a full point ahead of the second-ranking entry, The Matrix is Reeves’ top-rated action movie by far. While it drew influence from Ghost in the Shell and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the Wachowskis’ sci-fi epic is a fiercely original movie that captured the zeitgeist when it hit theaters in 1999.
NEXT: Keanu Reeves’ Top 10 Non-Action Movies Ranked, According To IMDb
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