How ‘John Wick’ Convinced Me to Believe in Action Movies

Keanu Reeves as John Wick in John Wick: Chapter 4. Photo Credit: Murray Close

I’ve never been a fan of action movies. Whether it’s because of my daddy issues or my allergy to Bruce Willis movies or because of the time wasted on violent takes, I’ve never liked them. Yes, I always enjoyed the Sandra Bullock-Keanu Reeves duo in Speed, as well as The Matrix saga and its philosophical approach. But my favorite action scenes were always found in The Lord of the Rings. I’m just a nerd like that, I guess. So, when the world fell in love with John Wick, I stayed away. Until now.

In the relentless search for content to watch — blame it on my anxiety and need to watch movies and series non-stop — the new John Wick movie winked at me at every turn. And since Keanu Reeves is the only man who makes me doubt my homosexuality, I gave in.

To My Surprise, John Wick’s Storyline Actually Makes Sense 

Keanu Reeves as John Wick in John Wick 4. Photo Credit: Murray Close

For those of us who are parents to our dogs, the only situation that makes us think about breaking social conventions is the possibility of something happening to our furry ones. That’s why the puppy’s death in the first chapter of the saga made so much sense to me.

I always found action movies that started with international conflicts, far-fetched plots, and testosterone-laden men to be ridiculous. In fact, if I ever saw them, I feared for my hormonal balance because of the toxic testosterone they radiated.

But John Wick is different.

It’s the story of a man who only ever wanted to love his wife. And after her death, that puppy was the last thing giving his life meaning.

When Solemnity Lends Elegance to a Violent Film

Keanu Reeves as John Wick and Donnie Yen as Caine in John Wick 4. Photo Credit: Murray Close

French documentalist Jean Rouch used to say that if you’re a good storyteller, the lie is more true than reality. If you’re a bad one, the truth is worse than a half lie. That is precisely the feeling I get when watching John Wick.

Everything is fake. We know that. But the truth of the plot is so close, so human, that it makes the most violent massacre a justified act. And the solemnity of the hired killers is so well achieved that it convinces us of social rules that would otherwise be schizoid. Despite the violence, there is an unspoken respect between those who get into a gunfight over the fear of an omnipresent “table.” But that respect also extends to personalities, especially John Wick, who is seen as a sort of supernatural entity by his peers.

A Deconstructed Man of Action

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - DECEMBER 03: Keanu Reeves speaks during a panel of John Wick 4 at the Thunder Stage at Sao Paulo Expo on December 03, 2022 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Ricardo Moreira/Getty Images for Lionsgate)

For his part, Wick is a man who, seen from afar, could even be compared to Bruce Willis in Die Hard. After all, both actually survive the most irrational beatings and shootings. But there is something about Keanu Reeves that inspires nothing but tenderness.

That is the beautiful paradox of this film.

For those lucky enough to be an audience of 21st-century cinema, violent productions without a philosophical narrative behind them simply have no place anymore. And we largely owe this to another Reeves saga: The Matrix. It proved that action films can and should do more than offer car chases and gun/fist fights. They should say something. They also can exist on a human scale. In short, call me silly, but for an action movie to revolve around a dog is the most logical thing I’ve heard in recent years.

What’s more, the latest installment of the John Wick saga finally convinced this skeptic that action movies don’t have to be bad. In addition to taking place in one of my favorite cities, the film vindicates the archetype of the broken, destiny-less hero.

The best part? The pit bull ends up safe and sound.

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