After an explosive opening weekend for John Wick: Chapter 2, Keanu Reeves continues to solidify his place as one of the premier action stars working today. The second installment of the John Wick franchise managed to fulfill everything audiences want in an action sequel: absorbing set designs, deeper mythology, and, above all else, impressive action sequences. Reeves performed the majority of stunts in both films, and based on the widely circulated videos of the actor tearing it up at the shooting range, we’re hardly surprised.
It’s hard to believe that Reeves is now over 50 years old, and that he’s been making action films for more than a quarter of a century! In that amount of time, the actor has portrayed his fair share of powerful characters. So we thought it would be fun to speculate how each of these characters would measure up against the next. This isn’t an article about the quality of the film, or even the actor’s performance for that matter; it’s simply about which character would come out victorious if they were ever pitted against each other.
Here is our countdown of the 13 Most Powerful Keanu Reeves Characters, Ranked.
Dishonorable Mention: Evan Webber – Knock Knock
To suggest that Reeves only ever plays action heroes would be unfair, as the actor continues to star in lesser known comedies, dramas, and even horror films. Before we dig into the Reeves’ most formidable characters, let’s look at some of his weakest. In the 2015 thriller Knock Knock, which was written and directed by Eli Roth, Reeves plays Evan Webber, a character who isn’t just weak; he’s downright pathetic.
While his wife and kids are away for the weekend, Evan finds himself in a cat and mouse game with two teenage girls named Genesis and Bel. After being wheedled into a threesome, Evan is unable to get the girls to leave him alone, and slowly watches his life begin to spiral out of control as the two seek to humiliate him on the internet. The film ends with Evan buried chin deep in his backyard and weeping over his inability to control his libido and outsmart two teenage girls — a pathetic sight, considering how capable the actor’s other characters have proven to be.
Dishonorable Mention: Jonathan Harker – Bram Stoker’s Dracula
When he isn’t being cast as a law enforcement officer or a gun-wielding assassin, Reeves can also be seen playing a lawyer in a number of his films, including last year’s legal drama The Whole Truth. In the 1992 romantic horror film, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Reeves was cast to play Jonathan Harker, a real estate attorney who’s tasked with helping the infamous count relocate to London. But when Jonathan arrives in Transylvanian, the attorney finds himself well outside his realm of expertise.
For someone so highly educated, especially considering the time period, Harker comes off as completely clueless and pathetically soft-spoken in a number of scenes. And when the attorney gets his first glimpse at what Count Dracula is truly capable of, he spends much of his time on screen shuddering in fear. It also doesn’t help that the role is one of Reeves most criticized performances, with many saying that the casting choice, along with Reeves’ terrible British accent, were the downfall of the film.
13. Johnny Mnemonic – Johnny Mnemonic
So now that we’ve gotten a few of the weaklings out of the way we can start ranking Reeves’s more dominant roles, beginning with the title character from the 1995 film Johnny Mnemonic. This sci-fi thriller revolves around Johnny, a mnemonic courier who is paid to carry top secret information in a brain implant from point A to point B, since sending the data across the Net would be far too risky in the future.
While the film features its fair share of action, Johnny is far from an accomplished fighter, and he largely relies on his allies to get him out of a number of jams with the Yakuza. Instead, Johnny’s power comes from his technological expertise. Though he’s no where near the level of the infamous hacker Neo, Johnny’s still able to outsmart his foes when it comes extracting information from the Net, which results in a victory for the good guys by the film’s end. We also have to acknowledge that letting others store classified information in your head is a pretty ballsy way to live, and for that, this Reeves character has earned a spot on this list.
12. Theodore Logan – The Bill and Ted Franchise
Ted may be an oafish dimwit with zero fighting abilities, but since the character is eventually able to unite the world with his music alone, Ted undeniably possesses a power more unique than any of the other characters listed here. In both Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey, the eponymous airheads want nothing more than to make music in their band, the Wyld Stallyns. There’s just one problem: they’re both terrible musicians.
After the two use their time machine to undergo some serious music lessons, they return to the Battle of the Bands with their new found skills and take the world by storm. As we already know, both Bill and Ted go onto be known as the Two Great Ones, as their music inspires a utopian society some 600 years in the future. Now if only the third Bill and Ted film could find its way out of development hell, we’d have a better idea of how Ted is able to adjust his new found “power” following the end of Bogus Journey.
11. Kevin Lomax – The Devil’s Advocate
In the 1997 film The Devil’s Advocate, Reeves portrayed the undefeated defense attorney Kevin Lomax. Even when Kevin knowns that one of his clients is guilty of child abuse, the attorney still fights to win the case without regarding the moral implications of doing so. His cut-throat approach to winning eventually earns Kevin a hefty raise and a new job at a Manhattan law firm.
If being undefeated in the courtroom wasn’t powerful enough, we eventually discover that Kevin is, in fact, the son of Satan. It is also revealed that his new boss, John Milton, is Kevin’s long lost father. John tries to persuade Kevin to father the Antichrist — a being that will go on to rule, and eventually, destroy the world. Kevin refuses, and when he discovers that killing his father is ultimately impossible, he decides to turn the gun on himself to prevent anything worse from happening. Even though Kevin is unable to defeat the Devil, we still have to give him credit for standing up to him, especially considering that it was his own father.
10. Eddie Kasalivich – Chain Reaction
Just one year before The Devil’s Advocate, Reeves played a vastly different, though equally cunning, character in the 1996 thriller Chain Reaction. Instead of wearing sharp suits and trying to manipulate the jury in a court of law, the character of Eddie Kasalivich spends his time tinkering with machines in the hope of developing a form of clean energy that could be used to power the world. One night, while working from home Eddie stumbles onto the solution only to discover that the Powers That Be don’t want the world to acquire the capabilities of renewable energy.
Eddie is forced to run for his life, and he takes Dr. Lily Sinclair along for the ride. For a student machinist, and an uber science nerd, Eddie is surprisingly able to hold his own against an all-powerful corporation that seeks to frame him for murder. Eddie outruns a massive explosion on his motorcycle, takes down an evil henchman that’s twice his size, and eventually proves that he and Dr. Sinclair are innocent of any wrong doing. In fact, it’s the character’s over-ability to easily muscle his way out of any sticky situation that makes Chain Reaction utterly ridiculous at times.
9. Detective Tom Ludlow – Street Kings
The first cop on this list (though definitely not the last), Street Kings‘ Detective Tom Ludlow is a dirty LAPD detective who’s haunted by the death of his wife. After killing a number of thugs instead of placing them under arrest, Detective Ludow finds himself the focus of an internal affairs investigation that is itself over flowing with corruption.
Though many of Reeves’s more powerful characters are quick to crack a joke or humor audiences with their cynicism, Detective Ludlow is no nonsense from start to finish. He’s broodingly serious and obsessed with his job, going so far as to take a beating from a gang of criminals as long as he can use them to locate a crime scene. Ludlow single handedly takes down a number of thugs, but it’s because of his inability to see the web of conspiracy surrounding him that the character fails to rank any higher on this list.
8. Donaka Mark – Man of Tai Chi
Keanu Reeves often plays morally conflicted characters, as opposed to the obvious “good guy.” But for his directorial debut, Reeves decided to play one of his most villainous characters to date. Donaka Mark is a ruthless fighter who works for the Security System Alliance, where he oversees an illegal fighting ring. Donaka has no sense of honor, and enjoys watching and partaking in fights to the death.
In addition to his karate skills, Donaka’s real power comes from his ability to manipulate others. When in need of a new fighter, Donaka coerces the young Tai Chi expert Tiger Chen into his company. He slowly begins to corrupt Tiger, flooding him with money and encouraging him that every defeat should be more brutal than the last. Donaka is slowly turning Tiger into a ruthless killer for his own financial benefit.
During the film’s final battle, Tiger turns on Donaka and eventually ends up killing his master. Though we’re happy Tiger comes out victorious, it appears as though Donaka has still succeeded in turning Tiger into a killer after all.
7. Johnny Utah – Point Break
Johnny Utah, from the 1991 film Point Break, not only represents the first action hero that Keanu Reeves ever portrayed on film, he’s also the first character named “John” that Reeves ever played. If you don’t think that’s significant, we’ll have you know that we’ve already listed three characters named “John”– and we still have two more to go!
Even though they’ve recently remade this ‘90s action classic, the chemistry between Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze in the original is something that couldn’t be duplicated. Here, Reeves plays a fresh-faced FBI agent who’s tasked with infiltrating a group of surfers, lead by the adrenaline junkie Bodhi (Swazye), who are also suspected in a chain of bank robberies.
Though Swayze plays the ultimate macho man in Point Break, it’s Reeves’s Johnny Utah who’s eventually able to chase Bodhi all the way down to Australia to place him under arrest. This may be one of Reeves’s youngest, more inexperienced characters, but it’s Johnny Utah’s brazen and head-first approach that makes him a true force to be reckoned with.
6. Jack Tavern – Speed
Even after the success of Point Break, it took Reeves another six years and eight films before he would return to the action genre. But Speed was well worth the wait, as it gave us one of Reeves’s grittiest and most uncompromising characters, not to mention that the film was a near perfect action movie in its own right.
Reeves plays Jack Tavern, a young LAPD office who boards a bus knowing full well that it will explode if it drops below 50 miles per hour. While Jack tries to outsmart the terrorist bomber, he’s also tasked with trying to keep the passengers and nearby pedestrians safe. The character is utterly fearless, and he’s quick to put himself in harms way for the greater good. Jack even goes so far as to venture under the moving bus in an attempt to disable the bomb (despite the fact that he’s not even a bomb expert).
5. John Wick – John Wick Chapters 1 & 2
Up until this point, any abilities that the previous characters may have had with a gun pale in comparison to those possessed by John Wick. In the first film alone, John Wick takes down 59 people (out of a total of 77 kills) while using a gun, and his shot accuracy is nearly impeccable — especially when you consider that the characters he’s up against are some of the deadliest assassins in the world.
But John isn’t just a master marksman, he uses his gun skills in tandem with his fighting abilities, which has led to an increased usage of the term “gun fu,” first made popular by the renowned Hong Kong action director John Woo. The character of John Wick is so deadly he’s been nicknamed “Baba Yaga” — a supernatural entity so powerful he’s the one they send to kill the Boogeyman. But in reality, John Wick is nothing more than a mortal man void of super powers, which only makes his fighting skills all the more impressive.
4. Thomas Anderson/ Neo – The Matrix
We have to admit, the character of Neo really throws a wrench into our logic, as the entire Matrix trilogy is built upon the premise that their are two realities: the Matrix and the Real World. Until Neo is connected to the Source in the Real World, the character is pretty much on a level playing field with his fellow humans. All of his fighting skills, including his unparalleled ability to stop bullets and alter gravity, only apply back in the Matrix, and if Neo had to battle against a number of Reeves’ other more powerful characters in the Real World, it’s likely that he would lose.
Of course, if Neo had the chance to face off against the characters in the Matrix (which is where they would all exist anyway, right?), he would certainly come out victorious. He is “The One” after all. But considering that the character is ultimately all brain-power, not even his convenient nickname could quite earn Neo the top slot on this list.
3. Kai – 47 Ronin
Though 47 Ronin is based on the real account of a group of 18th century samurai avenging the death of their master, the film is a highly fantasized retelling of events, and a number of the characters, especially Reeves’ Kai, exhibit superhuman powers throughout the film. Kai is a half-English, half-Japanese samurai living in the Ako Domain in feudal Japan. Despite being taken in and trained by Lord Asano at a young age, Kai is still considered a lowborn by many, due to his mixed heritage. After Lord Asano is killed, Kai and his fellow samurais are branded as ronin — meaning they are without a master — and they are hunted by the evil ruler, Lord Kira.
While many of Reeves’s characters prefer fighting with their fists or guns, Kai is a master swordsman. The character wields a Tengu sword retrieved from a mystical forest, which exhibits supernatural powers of its own, and the katana is even able to double as a shield and deflect dragon-fire in the midst of battle. Kai also moves at a superhuman rate, leaving behind a trail of after-images while he dances around his opponents. By the film’s end, the fearless samurai single handedly takes down a dragon, and ends up defeating the shapeshifting witch who was responsible for his master’s death.
2. John Constantine – Constantine
Though it may not have been the Hellblazer adaptation we’d been waiting for, Reeves’s version of John Constantine still proves to be a formidable opponent to the demonic forces that walk amongst us. The character was born with the power to see both angels and demons who are in disguise, and after a failed suicide attempt, Constantine decides to puts his abilities to good use and act as an exorcist in the service of God.
Aside from battling demons on a daily basis, the character has even survived a brief visit to Hell, but as Constantine tells us there’s nothing brief about spending any amount of time in the underworld. By the film’s end, Constantine is even able to outsmart the Devil himself, and he’s even brazen enough to flip Lucifer the bird during his ascension into Heaven.
1. Klaatu – The Day the Earth Stood Still
It’s a bit of a shame that Keanu Reeves’s most powerful character comes out from a not-so-powerful film. While the original The Day the Earth Stood Still film remains a sci-fi masterpiece, the 2008 remake failed to entertain audiences and critics alike. Still, the character of Klaatu is undeniably all-powerful, as he’s sent to Earth prepared to annihilate the human race if they fail to change their destructive ways.
Every one of the actor’s characters up until this point has either been human or a human with supernatural abilities; but Klaatu is in a class of his own. The character is a highly advanced alien life-form, capable of traveling through space-time and impersonating a man so it’s able to communicate with Earthlings. Klaatu can manipulate machinery, control the minds of those around him, and even kill and revive anyone that gets in his way. With this amount of power, it’s a wonder why Klaatu even bothers to travel around with a gigantic robot in the first place!
So do you agree with our list? Which Keanu Reeves character do you believe could defeat the others? Let us know in the comments!
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