Let me paint you a picture. It was the summer of 2018. Late August to be more precise. The hazy heat hangs on, clinging to your skin, dripping from your clothes, and returning to the air to drown you with every breath. It was the summer of superhero blockbusters and teenage rom-coms. Babies were born. Love affairs bitterly ended. A film called Crazy Rich Asians dominated the box office. And, in a sequence of life-changing events that no one could’ve predicted, this writer stumbled upon the John Wick trilogy for the first time.
I didn’t go looking for the John Wick universe. The John Wick universe found me, sitting on my couch, scrolling through the burning pit of hellfire that is Twitter, offering me a glimpse of the divine with that most precious of Internet commodities: a Keanu Reeves meme. There he was, tall and statuesque. A man of the people. A god among men. Sitting atop a horse, riding through the streets of New York City. Suit pressed. Hair long. I was captivated. That image haunted my dreams. I had to know more.
That’s how I discovered the John Wick series which is, apparently, a set of films about a man named John Wick who slices and dices his way through bad guys following the death of his wife and, even more tragically, his dog. It’s a straightforward action thriller with cheesy dialogue and some beautifully choreographed fight scenes, all things the critic-bros have waxed poetic about for the past few years.
I’m not interested in that though. No, what I came here to discuss is a grave miscarriage of justice. A blight upon the land. An insult so shameful, nay, blasphemous, that it simply cannot stand.
Because folks, Keanu Reeves has laid the most devious of thirst traps in John Wick and it’s finally time the world acknowledges it.
I will now lay down my dignity for this noblest of causes.
The film opens with a rain-soaked Keanu watching a home video of a gorgeous Bridget Moynahan while clutching his bleeding abdomen. An SUV is totaled nearby. That woman is his dead wife, and his current injuries shall be explained later. For now, we’re expected to follow along as a somber and silent Keanu mosies about his palatial home in what I assume is upstate New York. It’s the kind of home a B-grade villain would live in, modern, sterile, a museum to his dead wife.
It’s here we see John Wick bid farewell to the love of his life as a heart monitor beeps ominously in the background. The scene is set. Here is a man who has lost everything. The moment is poignant, filled with emotion, and yet, the build of Keanu’s body, the way his brown leather jacket molds to every muscle in his biceps. Biceps like mountains with small valleys in between. A beard so perfectly trimmed, so squarely planted on full, luscious cheeks, it resembles the manicured perfection of the Gardens of Versailles. These things cannot be ignored.
Still, Keanu wants us to believe this movie is not a vehicle for his physical perfection, but a deep character study of a man untethered, set adrift by tragedy, so we’re introduced to another important plot point: a puppy. A puppy sent to him by his dead wife. A puppy to help him grieve, to help him love again. A puppy named Daisy.
We see John Wick struggle to bond and care for Daisy. We question our attraction to a man who drives at reckless speeds with a small dog unsecured in the passenger seat. We tsk when John Wick feeds Daisy cereal with milk for breakfast. We dramatically roll our eyes when he questions why she needs to go outside in the middle of the night. If this man doesn’t know the basics of animal care, is he even worthy of our affection?
We know Daisy will die. She will be the victim of fridging, like so many superhero girlfriends before her. Still, the moment is jarring and enough to make one question the futileness of continuing with a film that thinks it’s okay to use the death of an innocent dog to further the main character’s emotional arc.
But then Keanu is back, and he has a mallet, and he’s swinging it. He’s swinging it hard. And you think, maybe, just maybe, he might be able to swing that mallet right through the walls you’ve built around your cold, dead heart.
The obligatory badass sequence begins. You know the one. A man opens his secret vault. There are guns stored there, enough to outfit a small army. Cash too. Antagonists whisper his name. Baba Yaga. The Boogeyman. He haunts their dreams as well, but not in the same way. John Wick answers the phone with silence. Pure, unadulterated, raging, silence. You think, maybe this is an action movie after all.
And then another bit of subterfuge: Keanu Reeves has tamed his wild, unruly locks. He’s wearing a perfectly-tailored black suit. His hair is slicked back. You dream of finding the hairstylist who suggested that brilliant use of pomade and pledging them your first-born child. The thirst returns in full.
And now, it cannot be ignored. John Wick checks in to an assassins-only hotel. He’s a regular. He’s revered. Fellow professional hitmen stand and gawk. The power is intoxicating.
He quickly dispenses with bad guys while hunting down the man who killed his dog and stole his car. He towers over these pathetic human potato sacks. You wonder how you never realized Keanu Reeves was 6’1”.
John Wick murders a Russian gangster by drowning him in dirty sink water without ever getting wet. You remark, “He is … *fans self* skilled.”
You watch a doctor at the hotel stitch up John Wick’s wounds. He offers pain medication. John Wick has bourbon. Bourbon becomes your new drink of choice.
Adrienne Palicki appears. She wants to kill John Wick. You feel a great swell of sympathy for Adrienne Palicki. In another film, she could’ve been Keanu Reeves’ love interest. They might have been wrestling in the nude between the sheets. Keanu might have clutched her tenderly. Instead, he’s beating her to a pulp and watching as she tries to crawl away on the cold, marble floor. Adrienne Palicki, we feel your pain.
John Wick has been captured by his adversary. You question for the first time after nearly an hour’s worth of certainty. Is this really an action movie? Could it be? Here comes a monologue. John Wick explains why the dog was so important. It all comes back to his dead wife, to the chance he had at a normal life. Perhaps the plot of this thing, the journey John Wick has gone on, the men he’s killed, it’s all been for something.
Then, Keanu Reeves growls in the face of his enemy a death threat so absurd, so ridiculous, your ovaries can’t help but quiver. The sheer amount of machismo is enough to make even the most independent, self-assured woman swoon.
John Wick finally avenges his dog’s death, killing the man responsible, his associates, and his father. He’s lost so much: a best friend, a pet, copious amounts of blood. He staples his wounds together after breaking into a dog shelter after hours. You know how this will end. He chooses a puppy. It’s a blue-eyed pit bull. You know that’s a notoriously hard-to-house breed. Your heart melts.
And then, as the credits roll, and you realize you have another two films to look forward to in this strange sage of blood, lust, bullets, and bulldogs. You Google Keanu Reeves. You discover he had a birthday recently. He’s 54 years old. An ageless, weathered, avenging angel. A man who has discovered the fountain of youth and drunk from it. He’s drunk deep. You carry on, knowing life will never be the same again.