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Friday
May172019

Posterized: Keanu Reeves

by Nathaniel R

Whoa. Keanu Reeves turns 55 later this year and he's made roughly that many movies, too. Time sure does fly since he's still implanted in our consciousness as that stoner-like raven-haired looker of convenience store, surfing, and bus adventures. Figuring him out has always been an impossible trip. Keanu means "cool breeze over the mountains" in Hawaiian but, that geographically specific well-known trivia aside, he's always been hard to visually or sonically place anywhere on the map OR within the pantheon of contemporary stars; Born in Lebanon and raised in Canada, though he's of Hawaiian/British/Chinese/Portuguese descent, and with a voice that conjures the early 80s and California. Who/what/where is he even other than on his own planet and his own unique star? 

Though it seems hard to imagine now, when he first came to fame he was a very unlikely candidate for longevity...

And he was definitly hard to picture as a future action-star with that skinny frame, then-androgynous beauty, and those charmingly dopey line deliveries. But then Speed with that buzz cut and muscles happened, and then the billion dollar franchise The Matrix, and always small dips into weird indies. He's still a headliner 25 years after that A list ascendance. With John Wick 3 in theaters, let's look back on all the movie posters. How many of his 55 films have you seen

Who's this new guy with the unusual name? (1986-1988)
It's mostly indies but one of them is a true critical darling (River's Edge) and he's working a lot. The name is circulating...

 YOUNG BLOOD (1986)
FLYING also known as TEENAGE DREAM (1986)
RIVERS EDGE (1986)

THE NIGHT BEFORE (1988)
PERMANENT RECORD (1988)
THE PRINCE OF PENNSYLVANIA (1988)

Get me Keanu Reeves... Rising Star (1989-1993)
...for any genre! Whether or not its even possible to imagine him in the role.

DANGEROUS LIAISONS (1989)
BILL & TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE (1989)
PARENTHOOD (1989) 

I LOVE YOU TO DEATH (1990)
TUNE IN TOMORROW (1990) 
POINT BREAK (1991)

BILL & TED'S BOGUS JOURNEY (1991) 
MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO (1991)
BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA (1992)

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (1993)
EVEN COWGIRLS GET THE BLUES (1993)
LITTLE BUDDHA (1993/1994)

The A List Leading Man Peak (1994-2003)
His peak stardom, mainstream modest hits and failures sandwiched between two colossal hits: Speed and The Matrix trilogy.

SPEED (1994)
JOHNNY MNEMONIC (1995) 
A WALK IN THE CLOWDS (1995)

CHAIN REACTION (1996)
FEELING MINNESOTA (1996)
THE LAST TIME I COMMITTED SUICIDE (1997)

THE DEVIL'S ADVOCATE (1997)
THE MATRIX (1999)
THE REPLACEMENTS (2000)

THE WATCHER (2000) 
THE GIFT (2000)
SWEET NOVEMBER (2001)

HARDBALL (2001)
THE MATRIX RELOADED (2003)
THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS (2003) 

Post Matrix Fade (2003-2013)
Did Hollywood lose interest or did he? Or both? 

SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE (2003) 
THUMBSUCKER (2005)
CONSTANTINE (2005)

A SCANNER DARKLY (2006)
THE LAKEHOUSE (2006)
STREET KINGS (2008)

THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (2008)
THE PRIVATE LIVES OF PIPPA LEE (2009)
HENRY'S CRIME (2010)

GENERATION UM... (2012)
MAN OF TAI CHI (2013)
47 RONIN (2013) 

The Now: Indie Supporting Work + Leads in Gritty "B" Actioners (2014-2019)
During this period there's definitely been a reappraisal of his past work and some critical appreciation for the John Wick series. 

JOHN WICK (2014)
KNOCK KNOCK (2015)
EXPOSED (2016)

THE WHOLE TRUTH (2016)
THE NEON DEMON (2016)
THE BAD BATCH (2016/2017)

TO THE BONE (2017)
JOHN WICK: CHAPTER TWO (2017)
A HAPPENING OF MONUMENTAL PROPORTIONS (2017)

SIBERIA (2018)
DESTINATION WEDDING (2018)
REPLICAS (2018/2019)

JOHN WICK: CHAPTER THREE - PARABELLUM (2019)

That's it (we left out uncredited roles, voice roles, and a couple cameos when he played himself.) So how many is it for you?

  I'm personally at 25, so not quite half of them, but that's largely because gritty violent indie actioners aren't really my thing and I avoided the most acclaimed one of those because wasn't the whole plot about revenge because his dog was murdered? Can't handle violence against doggies. 

For fun here are two lists.

Best Movies (not the same thing as Best Performances) 

  1. Dangerous Liaisons 
  2. My Own Private Idaho
  3. Bram Stoker's Dracula
  4. Speed
  5. Point Break

Most Frequent Co-Stars

  1. Winona Ryder and Laurence Fishburne (4 times each)
  2. Carrie-Anne Moss, Common, Monica Bellucci, Hugo Weaving, and Ian McShane (3 times each)
  3. Alex Winter (soon to be 3 times with another Bill & Ted movie on its way)
  4. Sandra Bullock, Charlize Theron, River Phoenix, Uma Thurman, Essie Davis, Patrick Swayze, Crispin Glover, John Leguizamo, Bridget Moynahan, Lambert Wilson, Nathaniel Lees, Collin Chou, and Tilda Swinton (twice each)

 

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Reader Comments (30)

I've seen 21. I was quite in love with him during the 89-95 period. Huge gaps between Pippa Lee and The Neon Demon that I'm not going to fill up.

May 17, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Also 21

Favourite Movie/Performance: Probably My Own Private Idaho. I was not remotely prepared for the power of that movie.

Also, his Colbert answer makes me tear up for some reason.

May 17, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

Arkaan -- what's "his Colbert answer" mean?

May 17, 2019 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

So far... 40 films. Keanu is awesome.

May 17, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

10: Dangerous Liaisons, Parenthood, Dracula, Speed, the first and third Matrix films, The Gift, Something's Gotta Give, Neon Demon, A Scanner Darkly.

I need to see My Own Private Idaho at some point.

May 17, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJJM

Nat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7c2olMFEhK8

His answer and Colbert's answer kinda slayed me.

May 18, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

22. I am a fan. He’s enigmatic. And allegedly a genuine good guy. Love the Octavia spencer story. I even have a sad Keanu minifigure.

May 18, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMark

He's a favourite of mine, ever since Speed. He might not have the widest range as an actor but when he fits the part he can be perfect in a laid back zen kind of way.
He's also supposed to be one of the nicest people to work with in the business. Nice guy who still comes in first occasionally. Very on brand.

May 18, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterLadyEdith

I've seen 28, but none since "Henry's Crime". I was surprised he made the cover of the May 2019-issue of the French "Premiere". Didn't know he was still considered as one who could attract the buyers of a movie magazine.

May 18, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterFrank JP

I have seen 17

My fav movies of his are:
Dangerous Liaisons
The Matrix
Speed
Bram Stokers Dracula
Constantine
John Wick
Point Break

His best performance is the supporting one in The Gift

May 18, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterManuel

Sandra and he were literally dynamite in Speed.

He's laughably bad in Dracula but that films cast is a whole issue on it's own.

May 18, 2019 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

I’ve seen 25. Like others have said, when he is rightly cast, he is dynamite.

May 18, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPedro

I’ve seen 29.

I’ve also seen him live on stage, as Hamlet. You know, Hamlet is considered a pretty difficult part (the longest part in Shakespeare) and is sometimes used as a measure of an actor’s skills. And Keanu was excellent.

He’s the complete package. Magnetic stage presence, extraordinary spatial skills, clear diction, ability to translate Shakespearean prose into action, ability to work in tandem with other actors towards the same goal. He makes you feel like he is one of Us.

I think that’s the saddest I’ve felt when a Hamlet died. I felt like I had personally lost something.

The people who worked backstage and in the offices of the theatre all really liked him. He was so thoughtful and considerate.

May 18, 2019 | Unregistered Commenteradri

My mom fell in love with him because of a TV movie from the middle of the 1980s in which Robert Ulrich, in one of those stories where the character magically gets young, turns into Keanu Reeves to meet the woman of his past, Lindsay Wagner. She recorded on VHS - if no one knows what that is, please ask Google - and after I was born, of course, she had to show me and talk about her youth passion for Reeves. The film, actually an episode of a Disney show, is quite interesting, of course, predictable in a good way. The inexperience and youth of the actor match perfectly in the role. Keanu Reeves is not one of mines, I confess. I've never seen the Matrix series (fx are not for me)and the movies I've seen with him(eleven in this article), like My Own Private Idaho and Speed, not because of him. But my mom is a fan and has things like a painting of him on her bedroom wall and so and so.

May 18, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterGwen

He only got better looking with age. The lack of facial hair in the 80s versus the man he would become with it.

May 18, 2019 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

I was so smitten with his beauty in the early years. My favorite performance is in Something’s Gotta Give. He was perfect.

May 18, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

adri -- you hear this over and over again that he's a super nice guy in person.

May 18, 2019 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Someone pointed out that Hollywood A-list men have a tendency to not work with female directors. They pointed out the big names who have worked with 0-1, then noticed Keanu has worked with 13!

Paul Giamatti was second with 10

May 18, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBen

I've seen 10 and I actually liked him in all, even The Gift and my guilty pleasures are Devil's Advocate and Constantine.
Not a great actor, but someone you can't help but like for sure.

May 18, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSonja

Saw 9 movies. Some good movies and a lot of terrible movies too. He's got an advantage over other movie stars - he doesn't care playing supporting roles like in Something's Gotta Give - a wonderful comedy(rarity in Hollywood nowadays), some of his better movies are where he's not the star. He's like Cary Grant. Every 8 years for everybody equals two years for him. At 55 years, if he did something to his face, well, congratulations to the doctor, it's very good.

May 18, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSe_bas_tian

Only 14, but I've always loved him and will always love him.

And, as for his acting...what LadyEdith said. (As per usual.) When he's right, he's very, very right. And when he's wrong, well...I love him anyway. He has an earnestness that can be very charming.

May 18, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterLynn Lee

I've only seen 8, but I like him. He and his character surprised me in Parenthood in such a good way.

Quick question: What's his best character name? Johnny Utah? Ted Theodore Logan, or Don John the Bastard?

May 18, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterCash

Wow. I've seen 38 of his movies. He had me at "Speed".

May 18, 2019 | Unregistered Commentermosley

I've seen 20, actually having just watched My Own Private Idaho for the first time (he was good, River Phoenix was incredible). The John Wick movies are a lot of fun and I will be watching the third some time soon.

I don't know if I'd call him a "good" actor but he's definitely a unique actor; he's unlike anyone else I've ever seen on the screen.

I'll also give a shout out to The Lake House which is a fantastic romantic drama (with a sci-fi twist) that is incredibly underrated. His chemistry with Sandra Bullock is undeniable even though they have very few scenes together; it's actually very fascinating in retrospect.

May 18, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMDA

I've seen 23 but curiously not the most recent films- "My Own Private Idaho" only reminds me of the tragic death of his co-star Rive Phoenix

May 18, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterjaragon

I've seen 30, mostly his earlier films. A VERY variable performer he was excellent in Permanent Record, I've never seen him do anything that quite matched his work there but if the role is a good fit he does okay. He also scores strongly in Parenthood, his kitchen scene with Dianne Wiest is gold.

Some of his more obscure pictures-Tune in Tomorrow & A Walk in the Clouds are particular faves-are where I liked him best but of course in Speed everything comes together for him and he is just so magnetic. I hate The Matrix and have never seen the sequels. I recently caught up with the first John Wick and while I didn't dislike it as much as Matrix I don't understand the love for it.

May 18, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

Remember how great Charlize was in The Devil's Advocate? Blew me away.

May 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMichael R

"Best Movies (not the same thing as Best Performances)"

LOL. This defines Keanu Reeves career with perfection. Saw 15 movies. Honestly, I think he's very lucky in his filmography - the right person in the right place in the right time - and I believe he must be the nicest person in film business for getting so much work; he also has a "nice" persona on screen and off screen , a good image. For an actor with such small dramatic skills he's been there for so long time and with success. As we know there are incredibly talented actors who are arrogant and dificult to be with and to work with, which producers and directors avoid. Keanu seems to be this kind of person loved by the movie crew and co-stars and who makes everybody around feel good.

May 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMelchiades

"Best Movies (not the same thing as Best Performance)"
This defines Keanu Reeves with perfection. Saw 15 mo

May 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMelchiades

30

May 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterLuiz Carlos

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