Dear Keanu Reeves lovers, Point Break cult leaders, people who have watched any of the John Wick films, and those of us who remember The Matrix fondly, (but not fondly enough to use the term “red pill” in any context, ironically or not); this is an article for you. You’ve been warned. I love my doe-eyed, dark haired, spider-limbed baby. Keanu Reeves is a gift, and I’m here to stan.
Let’s begin with the film that really jump started Keanu’s career 25 years ago: Speed. A largely unobtrusive film by critical measure, it’s an uncomplicated, bright, popcorn action thriller; it was immensely successful at the box office. It kicked Keanu to the next level of actor.
After Speed, Keanu Reeves became a household name, despite having been around in Hollywood for a while. He was a commonly-stated 90s teen heartthrob, following his first well-known role as Ted Logan in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure in 1989. Speed, however, jumped him from second-man material (in 1991, he starred in Point Break opposite Patrick Swayze, who was in the prime of his acting career) into a leading action star.
So here’s where we fall in love with Keanu Reeves. Collectively, take a minute to swoon and compose yourself. It’s a lot.
After starring in some relatively mediocre action films throughout the 90s, (many of which are forgettable despite having plot lines that fed on both post-Cold War and Y2K fears) Keanu is cast as Neo in The Matrix. The movie dropped in 1999 and it’s a sure thing; Keanu is set for life. He’s back: not only becoming a household name, but an international treasure, a regular on the con circuit, a cult hero, an icon, and an undeniable Hollywood star.
And despite all of this, Keanu stays humble. There are so many stories out around this time about how grounded, kind, and soft-spoken Keanu Reeves is when interacting with fans and random people on the street. He signs receipts at movie theaters, poses for photos, and keeps working hard. During this time, (the early 2000’s) Keanu also suffers a deep personal loss, and subsequently retreats from the spotlight. Although he put a short pause on appearing in public for a while, there is no rest for Reeves after The Matrix.
The rest of Reeves’ filmography is varied and expansive. He does indies, romcoms, supernatural adventures, and the rest of The Matrix films. You can read about it on IMDB; I won’t get into it much more, except to say that I loved Constantine. It was underrated and perfect. Everyone should go watch Constantine.
I’m really here to talk about how much I love Keanu Reeves. For a long time, some viewers complained about his presence on screen - his dryness, his directness, the strange subtly to his acting that could be forced or intentional. The truth is, he can do a few characters exceptionally well and it’s really all we should ask of him. The savior types, authorities without authority, the rebels with a cause, those are the characters Keanu Reeves was built for and damn, does that man get at it. He’s so earnest and sincere that he can sometimes come across as open-faced on screen, but that’s just it. We trust him. He’s got something to his presence that is completely believable, and he just needs the right role to capitalize on that candor. There’s a boy next door charm to Keanu that hasn’t worn off in forty years. The man is simply straight-up adorable.
He’s also super cute. Just like an attractive man. He’s not Dwayne Johnson kind of buff (but who is?) but he’s got the goods. The guns. Nice legs. A good body. Tall as hell. He’s an adorable meme-boy, and instead of ignoring, “Keanu Looking Sad on a Park Bench,” that genius, that stand-up dude who’s always willing to poke fun at himself, made sure to start another meme with “Keanu Looking Like a Ray of God-Damn Sunshine.”
So what if filming John Wick means he’s got a permanently stupid haircut, who hasn’t had those before? It’ll grow out. It’s ridiculous but it still looks good. It’s as if his hair is saying, “We can’t do anything wrong right now guys. Sure this looks like a fifteen year old growing out a bob. Sure, we would look better in a man bun. Yes, there is a little too much grease on us right now, but we need to be on our flow for the rest of our short, dead-cell little lives because we can’t disappoint Keanu.”
What I’m trying to say is that Reeves is looking great. Amazing even. He’s attractive, he’s always been attractive, and I’ll go to the grave with this.
And honestly? We’re entering prime thirst-trap years for Keanu. The man is swiftly turning into zaddy material. He was a secondary star in Netflix’s new rom-com special Always Be My Maybe, where he played a bizarre version of himself as Ali Wong’s boyfriend for a few hot minutes on screen. Honestly, his scenes made the movie, kicking it up from a funny movie to an honest laugh-out-loud comedy. He’s great, y’all. The movie is hilarious, but it’s also just worth watching to get to Keanu being wildly charming, totally obtuse, and ridiculously over-the-top attractive on screen.
In Always Be My Maybe, Keanu was given a chance to capitalize on his brand of self-deprecating, tongue-in-cheek humor that has peppered his movies and his interviews. When Randall Park, a former west coast rapper, asked if they could use his name in the end credits, in a song titled, “I Punched Keanu Reeves,” Keanu wanted to make sure that Randall’s movie was actually being celebrated, rather than just allowing his name more screen time. Class act, Keanu.
Adding to the general sweetness that is Keanu Reeves is the fact that he’s a wholesome boy. A good man. There is no end to the stories of Keanu taking care of fans, both before and after the Matrix series. He’s down-to-earth, donates money, lives without stirring up waves or making problematic statements, (I think it’s because he doesn’t have a Twitter account. That’s probably it) and is just, in general, a sweetheart.
I’ve also just been informed (God bless you, Tumblr) that Keanu Reeves is in the theatrical trailer for Cyberpunk 2077 and will actually be in the video game itself. We’re truly living in a golden age of Keanu Reeves appreciation. Whatever Bruce Willis was in the 90s, Keanu is going to be in the 2020s. Except sexier, and with better hair, obviously. The trailer for Cyberpunk 2077 alone is enough to sell me on the dumb thing and I don’t even own a compatible system for the game. I’m still putting it on preorder. Let me know when someone starts a Twitch stream of Cyberpunk 2077, because I’m ready for it.
So thanks Keanu Reeves. You’re doing some excellent work and I appreciate all of it. I hope everyone else does too.
Linda is a twenty-something millennial living and working in the Hudson Valley who loves fandom, pop culture, sailing, tarot cards, and crying in movie theaters. If you want to listen to her talk about pop culture, the repeating cycles of media, and those stories that we can’t get out of our heads, you can listen to her podcast, Retronym, on iTunes.