There's a massive treat in store for Bill & Ted fans later this month (16 September) when the long-awaited third film in the iconic series lands at Cineworld cinemas.
Coming 29 years after Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, the Dean Parisot-directed Bill & Ted Face The Music sees Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves reunite as the titular slackers. Cue plenty of mirth and mayhem as they're presented with the not-inconsiderable task of writing a song that'll save mankind.
Of course, the Bill & Ted capers aren't the only films that Keanu Reeves is known for, and during his illustrious career the now 56-year-old star has played everything from supernatural detectives to Second World War soldiers. As we prepare for the Hollywood hunk to arrive at Cineworld, here we look back at some of his more memorable movie outings. Most bodacious!
1. The Matrix (1999)
Will Smith and Nicolas Cage were both reportedly considered for the role of computer programmer Thomas A. Anderson – aka Neo – in the Wachowski brothers' mind-bending sci-fi thriller before Keanu Reeves landed the part. The Canadian actor turned in a kick-ass performance (even though he didn't actually do much kicking, as prior to filming he'd undergone neck surgery to remedy a spine condition), and even managed to make trench coats cool again in the process. Keanu has since starred in two more Matrix movies – The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions (both 2003) – and will return for a fourth film in 2022. Get ready to take the pill again…
2. Point Break (1991)
Long before she started troubling the Academy Awards with movies like The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow made Point Break, a high-octane action thriller that pitted Keanu Reeves' rookie cop against Patrick Swayze's canny armed robber-cum-surfer. With those two leading the cast, the film was always going to melt a few hearts, and Rolling Stone magazine described it as “the greatest female-gaze action movie ever”. But Keanu was praised for his performance, too, with The New York Times' Janet Maslin admitting: “A lot of the snap comes, surprisingly, from Mr Reeves, who displays considerable discipline and range.”
3. Constantine (2005)
Based on DC Comics' Hellblazer comic book, Francis Lawrence's directorial debut saw Keanu Reeves portraying John Constantine, an occult detective with lung cancer who's damned to hell for attempting to commit suicide when he was younger. While the film earned a place on legendary movie critic Roger Ebert's Most Hated list, Reeves' performance received its fair share of plaudits. Los Angeles Times writer Carina Chocano observed: “Keanu Reeves has no peer when it comes to playing these sort of messianic roles – he infuses them with a Zen blankness and serenity that somehow gets him through even the unlikeliest scenes with a quiet, unassuming dignity.” At least we think that was a plaudit!
4. The Devil's Advocate (1997)
In this Taylor Hackford-directed supernatural thriller, Keanu Reeves played Kevin Lomax, a successful defence attorney from Florida who's persuaded to join a New York City law firm by the company's charismatic owner John Milton (Al Pacino) – a man who turns out to be none other than Satan himself. Reeves reportedly turned down the chance to star in the sequel to his 1994 box-office smash Speed because he wanted to appear in The Devil's Advocate, and it's even been claimed that he agreed to take a massive pay cut so that the film's producers could meet Pacino's wage demands. David Denby wrote in New York magazine that The Devil's Advocate was “preposterously entertaining” – and it's hard to disagree.
5. Speed (1994)
In this wildly successful action blockbuster, Keanu Reeves played Jack Traven, an LAPD officer who is thrust into a high-pressure situation when a deranged terrorist (Dennis Hopper) plants a bomb on a city bus and reveals that it'll detonate if the bus's speed drops below 50mph. Director Jan de Bont reportedly decided to cast Reeves after seeing him in Point Break, explaining that Reeves was “vulnerable on the screen. He's not threatening to men because he's not that bulky, and he looks great to women.” However, it's been reported that 20th Century Fox were horrified when Reeves turned up for filming with a buzz cut, and insisted the actor grow his hair back.
6. John Wick (2014)
Reeves spent four months training in Judo, Japanese Ju-Jitsu and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to prepare for his role as John Wick, a former hitman who gets medieval with a bunch of Russian gangsters after they steal his car and kill his puppy. Directed by Chad Stahelski – Reeves' stunt double for the Matrix movies – this neo-noir action thriller was a success both critically and at the box office, and has gone on to spawn two (soon to be three) follow-ups. Clearly, people didn't seem to be fazed by the film's violence – indeed many thought it was entirely justified. Reeves told Esquire: “I think a lot of people's responses to the first film were: 'You know, once you kill a dog, you can just do whatever you want.' Right?”
7. A Walk in the Clouds (1995)
Following his star turn in Speed, Reeves could've easily chosen to focus exclusively on action blockbusters. But instead, just a year later, he turned up in Alfonso Arau's A Walk In The Clouds, a relatively low-budget romantic drama in which he played a Second World War soldier who pretends to be the husband of an abandoned pregnant woman (newcomer Debra Messing) in order to appease her traditionalist father. While the film didn't receive universal acclaim, plenty of critics were impressed by Reeves' presence. “In this very warm-hearted film, Reeves' face is the movie's focus of kindness and decency – and he stands up to scrutiny,” wrote Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle. “There's not just sweetness there but depth.”
8. Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989)
Bill & Ted's first outing was the film that turned Keanu Reeves into a worldwide star, at the tender age of 22. Based on a stand-up routine that screenwriters Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson had performed at college, Stephen Herek's daft-as-a-brush comedy centres around two goofish musician friends who travel through time to assemble a group of famous historical figures for their school project. Herek reportedly auditioned between 200 and 300 different actors for the two main roles before settling on Alex Winter as Bill and Reeves as Ted, and even then he wasn't convinced it was going to be a success, stating that it was “either going to be a huge hit or a huge flop”. The rest is history, dude!