Here's What We Think the John Wick Franchise Is About

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This week, a whole mess of people became rather excited when fate (or a marketing firm) conspired to release the next installments of both the John Wick and Matrix franchises on the same day. This, of course, won’t happen until 2020, but it did inspire a healthy debate among the Jezebel staff about what exactly the John Wick franchise is about. The only thing everyone seemed to agree on—even those who had seen the films—was that it probably involved a pet of some sort.

As someone who has seen the first John Wick three times, the second (and worst one) once, and the third installment twice-and-a-half, I consider myself a veritable expert in Keanu Reeves’s alternately brooding and violent ways. From my perspective, John Wick is the ideal role for Reeves, in that his emotional register only has to vacillate between “vacant/sad” and “basically dead.” That said, I’m also not entirely sure what series of events made it necessary for Wick to brutally murder a hot mute assassin, as played by Ruby Rose. So in celebration of Keanu Reeves day, a holiday that absolutely exists, here is what we have collectively pieced together about the complex mythology of the extended John Wick universe.


Rich Juzwiak, Senior Writer:

I don’t know even what the premise is or what John Wick does. He’s a spy? A cop? There is not a supernatural element, from what I understand but maybe there is? Is he a wizard? A wizard with a gun? He’s not an alien, right?

Charles Pullman-Moore, Reporter, iO9:

Okay, so there’s a man who had a dog that he loved and some fuckers killed the dog. But what the fuckers didn’t know is that Wick’s a lethal assassin who would come for them all, which he does. Other assassins pop up along the way to complicate things, I’m sure, but in the end, he gets, like a new dog, maybe? They’ve had a lot of stunt coordinators come on as directors, I think.


Clover Hope, Culture Editor:

I started watching about 10 minutes of the first one and took it to be like a movie where Keanu is silently brooding again but with a lot of action, and I know there’s something about a dog that’s missing or kidnapped or possibly dead?


I’m not sure if he has to save the dog and that’s the whole plot of the movie, but I doubt that could sustain for three movies so I assume there’s a lot more to it. Maybe some mob stuff.

Kelly Faircloth, Senior Writer:

My understanding is they are about a man who seeks revenge for the murder of his dog. It kinda seems like Keanu has steadily shown up annually to make the exact same movie for like 20 years running and these are some of those movies (to be clear, I respect this immensely).


Lisa Fischer, Producer:

I have not seen any of the John Wick movies, but I did just watch the trailer for the first one and my best guess about what happens is this: A man at the gas station tries to buy Keanu Reeves’s car off of him. Keanu declines and then those men follow him home, break into his house, and kill his dog? Keanu is very sad and seeks revenge. He loads a bunch of guns, at which point I turned the trailer off halfway through because even though I love Keanu Reeves, action movies are boring, except for Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle.


Dhruv Mehrotra, Computer Boy:

As far as I can tell, Keanu is some kind of assassin or ninja that also can maybe do magic and is haunted by some trauma that makes him kill a lot. It also seems like he’s always wet for some reason.


Emily Alford, Staff Writer:

Okay, I only know the posters. So I think Keanu plays a lonely, world-weary action man, who just wants to retire to the desert but he keeps having to save the world from criminals. Maybe in the future? It’s hard to tell. Oh, and in the maybe-future, it is always raining.


Joan Summers, Staff Writer:

John Wick is about masculinity eating itself alive like the ouroboros, as one man is slowly consumed by despondency for failing at his one and only job: being a wife guy (who also likes murder).


Julianne Escobedo Shepherd, Editor-in Chief 

So I think it’s about a guy who works in the candle department at Bed, Bath & Beyond who doubles as a spy for a low-rent Hollywood production agency that specializes in finding out what Trend Films bigger studios are making and then scooping them with worse versions by 1-2 months. He finds out about the Gone Girl movie and goes about making a bootleg version called Bad Actress, but the twist is the Actress is real and a Killer. He has to quit his job to escape her and it becomes a road trip across the country. But then they fall in love.


Megan Reynolds, Managing Editor:

John Wick, played by Keanu Reeves, is a 17th-century candlemaker who has learned via black magic how to time travel. He uses this newfound power to travel to contemporary times, where he finds himself thrust into an action movie franchise that he frankly wants no part of! He is too old, both metaphorically and literally, to be barrel-rolling away from cars on fire and the like, but because he is being paid (in the movie and in real life) to do such tasks, he soldiers on.


Alexis Sobel Fitts, Deputy Editor:

I believe John Wick is a movie about a very devoted dog dad who justifiably goes apeshit when a bounty hunter hired to oust literal puppies kills his dog. I know that Keanu Reeves is in it. That must mean that he does some Matrix-y time freezing stuff... to track down the heart of the puppy-killing ring and perhaps go back in time to save the life of his dog child. I am unclear if the dog is named John Wick, or the man is named John Wick. It’s also unclear what the relationship between man and dog is.


Jennifer Perry, Senior Producer:

John Wick is a revenge drama starring Keanu Reeves. Basically, his wife dies from natural causes? Her dying wish is to give Wick a very nice gift so a friend/messenger/ghost drops off this tiny little puppy named Daisy—who should have been named Beverly—off at his house. Beverly and Wick, both homebodies, fall in love instantly and settle into a quiet life together. One night, all hell breaks loose when several people break into their house and kill Beverly! Grief-stricken, Wick goes on a 60-90 minute killing spree until he ultimately decides to rescue another dog from a shelter. This movie was 100 percent written by a cat person.


Shannon Melero, Staff Writer:

From the several minutes I’ve seen, I’m pretty sure it’s about John, a retired man who leaves retirement to avenge his dog. And then he gets another dog but then needs to avenge his car, which was supposed to be fixed by John Leguizamo but wasn’t fixed so he still needed to get vengeance. And then eventually he has killed everyone that did him wrong and he goes back to retirement with his second dog but not a new car. The car appears to be a big deal. Like a plot point.


Ashley Reese, Staff Writer and someone who has very recently watched this movie:

Keanu Reeves is devastated after the passing of his wife, who posthumously Postmates him a puppy to keep him company. Also, he has a cool car. Theon from Game of Thrones (who speaks Russian!) and his crew notice Keanu, the dog, and the very cool car one day at some gas station and, if I remember correctly, Theon tries to buy the car off of him. Keanu is like, “Uh, no???” Theon feels slighted and is Russian and SCARY so he and his crew break into Keanu’s house later that night, beat him up, kill his dog, and steal the car. But little do they know that Keanu is a retired fuckin’ assassin who is out for revenge because how fucking dare you kill the dog that his late wife gave to him??????? Oh, and uh, Theon’s dad was Keanu’s assassin boss? There are layers to this shit, but only kind of.


Stassa Edwards, Features Editor:

Well, I’ve never seen them, but I think they’re probably about time travel... like a guy who travels through time and does violence.


Esther Wang, Senior Staff Writer:

Illustration for article titled Here's What We Think the John Wick Franchise Is About

Molly Osberg is a Senior Reporter with G/O Media.

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You’re all wrong: John Wick is about Stunt Coordinators being tired of watching regular film directors not know how to film action.