“Excellent" is not only a catchphrase of Ted, the character Keanu Reeves portrayed in his breakout movie, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, it is also a perfect encapsulation of the actor’s career.
Since 1985, Reeves has maintained consistent employment, appearing in more than 70 films and television programs across a number of genres. In recent years, Reeves has even taken up directing. During his 30-something-year-long acting career, Reeves has brought joy to millions of movie-goers and earned the respect of the Hollywood establishment.
In spite of this reality, Reeves is consistently, and I would argue unfairly, ranked among the worst actors of all time. How has Reeves been so unjustly maligned? The roots of this degradation are threefold: First, Keanu has a limited range in which he excels. Second, he takes creative risks. Lastly, his critics seem to have a selective memory when it comes to the quality of his films.
It is true that Reeves possesses a limited range of acting ability, but he excels in those roles which suit him. He puts on his best performances in roles which require contemplative intensity, such as Speed, The Matrix, and Hardball. However, the actor also excels in goofball comedies, like The Replacements or the Bill and Ted film franchise. He also does well in romantic movies where he plays a man dedicated wholeheartedly to one woman, as in The Lake House.
Furthermore, the Canadian entertainer does the majority of his own stunts, lending an air of credibility to his parts in action films, including Point Break, The Matrix Trilogy, 47 Ronin, John Wick and others.
Reeves is a creative risk taker, plain and simple. He holds creative liberty in high regard and has said before, “when I don't feel free and can't do what I want I just react. I go against it.”
Many of these risks end up paying off, resulting in incredible films. However, they also backfire on occasion, as happened in such films as Knock Knock and The Devil's Advocate.
While other actors, such as James Franco, are rewarded for their creative risk-taking and not penalized on the occasions when those risks do not pay off, Keanu is not afforded this luxury. Audiences dwell on those films in which Reeves failed to live up to expectations, while ignoring scores of films in which the actor excelled. The truth is, in the vast majority of his films, Reeves throws an incredible performance and deserves to be considered on of the best actors of the past 30 years.
Michael O'Malley is a senior studying political science at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. What do you think about Keanu Reeves? Email your thoughts to Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org.