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Why summer 2019 is the summer of Keanu Reeves


It's hard – no, almost impossible – to imagine the cinema without Keanu Reeves. Probably because he's been on our screens for over 30 years. Yes, really, that long – let's not forget his breakout role was in the 1986 thriller, River's Edge.

This summer will be one to relish for his many fans. It brings a Keanu triple bill, starting with Destination Wedding (released 10th May), which sees him re-united with Dracula co-star Winona Ryder for a rom-com about an unpleasant couple who reluctantly get together.

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (17th May) has Reeves reprising the title role as the assassin who takes on the entire world.

And just a few weeks later, his voice graces Toy Story 4 (21st June) as stuntman action figure, Duke Caboom, a character who, according to the man himself, has something of a tragic backstory. It's destined to be a Keanu Summer.

Regardless of your generation, there's always time for a refresher on his movies or, should you need one, an introduction to some of his best. Here's a checklist, showing his versatility as well as some of his most iconic outings. With Mr Wick's third outing so close, the first two in the series aren't included. But don't let that stop you watching them again – or for the first time.

1. The Matrix (1999)

It's just celebrated its 20th birthday, is still one of the most influential films of modern cinema and – together with its two sequels – has turned out to be Reeves' biggest money spinner. Under the direction of the Wachowskis, his Neo was an action hero of very few words – reminiscent in that way of Arnold Schwarzenegger or Bruce Willis – and one that didn't need much in the way of dramatic emoting.

It played to Reeves's strengths, allowing him to be a totally believable good guy in a mind-bending, highly stylised futuristic setting. And, if he's going to be remembered for one particular role, this is probably it.

2. Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989)

Sometimes an actor can never quite shake off a particular role. For Reeves, it's high school student "whoa dude" Ted Logan. He nailed it as the good-hearted guy who was easily one sandwich short of a picnic to such an extent that he's been forever haunted by the myth that he's equally a dim bulb in real life. Which he's not.

He and co-star Alex Winter made a great comedy duo both in this and the sequel, Bill And Ted's Bogus Journey, three years later. As to whether they can pull off the same trick for a third time? We've only got to wait until next year to find out, because that's when Bill And Ted Face The Music. Don't believe us? Here's the official announcement.

3. Speed (1994)

This pre-Matrix action outing was somewhat ahead of its time in casting the unconventional actor as its lead. But Reeves successfully combined the action – and there's plenty – with characterisation, something for which he doesn't always receive due credit.

He plays cop Jack Traven desperately trying to save the passengers on a bus set to explode if the speedo drops below 50 mph, in a role that brought him the closest he's ever been to Tom Cruise's straight-up style of heroics. And the chemistry between him and Sandra Bullock's passenger Annie, drafted in to drive the bus, helps make the film a white knuckle ride. A blockbuster hit that turned Bullock into a leading lady, it also established Reeves as a major Hollywood player.

4. Point Break (1991)

Good reviews haven't always come his way, but Reeves's early action-thriller earned him a warm reception. In his first leading man role, his gloriously named undercover hot shot FBI agent Johnny Utah investigated a series of bank heists committed by a group of surfers, led by the charismatic Bodhi (Patrick Swayze).

Kathryn Bigelow helmed the testosterone fuelled bromance, which saw Reeves embracing an untypically emotional role with relish. And, if the story line sounds familiar, let's just say it spun off in a fast and furious direction. Don't confuse this with the remake from 2015. There's no comparison.

5. Something's Gotta Give (2003)

Reeves played it for laughs in writer-director Nancy Myers's age-difference comedy. With Hollywood royalty in the shape of Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton for company, he played a doctor whose playboy patient (Nicholson) decides to recover from a heart attack by staying with his younger girlfriend. Except that her mother (Keaton), to coin a phrase, comes too and Reeves is smitten with her.

The actor doesn't often combine comedy and romance but here he displayed a lightness of touch that was surprisingly refreshing and delightful. Who could blame Keaton for being charmed?

Which Keanu Reeves movie are you most looking forward to seeing this summer? Let us know @Cineworld.

Freda Cooper is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.