The third installment in this extra-satisfying and thrilling film franchise starring Keanu Reeves, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum recently graced screens worldwide. The plot, which commenced with the stoic former assassin un-retiring to seek vengeance for his beloved dog’s death, and then going to Rome to fulfill a contract, now finds himself excommunicated with a handsome bounty on his head. If you are not a John Wick or Keanu Reeves fan, it’s natural to ask, why do people love John Wick so much? And Keanu Reeves? Even if you are a recent convert, this is almost self-explanatory. As abused as the words human and humanity are, it is Keanu Reeves’s and John Wick’s relatable human qualities and humanity in the face of chaos and uncertainty that clinch all the adulation from both casual and hardcore John Wick fans.
It behooves any John Wick fan to examine why John Wick’s character and story is so lovable.
The dog is the clincher, that powerful hook. It is the piece that possesses magnet-like force to pull you into becoming a John Wick fan. Unlike hackneyed film franchises wherein it would have been an angry man seeking retribution for his wife’s, or worse, his family’s death. Instead, it is about a lonely widower seeking to destroy whoever wronged his dog. You may have read that dogs are better than people (dogs don’t kill each other over petty things!), and if you take that into consideration, you will have no problem understanding John Wick’s mission. John Wick is also a widower, so it is also understandable to assume that the dog represents his departed love. This is encapsulated by John Wick telling mob boss Viggo Tarasov that when his wife died, he knew he had lost everything until the dog showed up like a last present from his wife, which gave him hope and company as he grieved, only to have all hope and company mercilessly killed by Tarasov’s son.
The affectionate bond John Wick creates with Daisy the saviour dog has all sorts of power to irreversibly draw the audience in. When that bond gets destroyed, anyone is now willing to look past whatever John Wick does to avenge the death of his trusty companion. Thus, John Wick’s mission is not only understood, it is also supported. And because of the fact that Keanu portrays John Wick, you’ll also get to love Keanu Reeves even before you know it.
John Wick the man
Throughout the three films, you will get to know and remember invariably the nicknames bestowed on him by friend and foe alike. What does that say? That Keanu Reeves’ character John Wick is the preeminent assassin, possessing supremacy that is simply unmatched by any other assassin, active or otherwise. He once “neutralized” three enemies using a pencil, and accomplished the unthinkable by “eliminating” all of Tarasov’s enemies in a day. These are not forgettable tales, mind you. They are now embedded in your head.
However, it is not those tales that supposedly happened before the first installment that continue to build John Wick’s legend because after all, nobody saw those (the ‘pencil’ recurs in the second film). John Wick the man is due to what you witness when he is in action. His unwavering focus to fulfill a task, by all means, at all costs, is simply mesmerizing. His ability to find a way when there are seemingly no options is spellbinding and thrilling at the same time. And lest we forget, his quick reflexes that enable him to dodge knife attacks, iron bars, bottles, bullets, and furious cars. Keanu Reeves’s John Wick is a perfect balance of physical force and mental superiority. The legend only blooms with every brutally subjugated enemy. Putting it mildly, John Wick can walk the talk.
John Wick THE MAN
Now that you are done with John Wick the man, let us go to John Wick THE MAN. Here is a man who, despite his aim to eradicate all those who come after him, possesses an admirable temperament. John Wick the “man,” the hitman, has merciless cruelty. John Wick THE MAN is respectful, calm, affectionate, and conscientious. His assassin and human sides are non-mutually exclusive, thereby making his character all the more perpetually magnetizing. That contradiction formula should still do right even if Keanu Reeves agrees to make John Wick: Chapter 17.
John Wick’s enemies
The cold, dodgy underworld figures and their hierarchy, all of whom John Wick takes it upon himself to pulverize, constitute a significant reason why John Wick is loved. Here are people who are not simply wicked, but also operate under a strict code of conduct, an effort to zero in on one man. They are members of the same worldwide underground organization that employs esoteric language, confusing currency, and obsolete technology in carrying about assassinations, and all their day to day “paper” affairs are headquartered in an enormous New York hotel. Membership in the organization is permanent and only excommunication or death can revoke it, with the former serving as impetus for John Wick’s actions in the third film. All their eccentric ways, the ceaseless drive to eliminate John Wick, make them easy to loath. Therefore, this loathing that viewers feel towards them easily translate to rooting for John Wick.
Their very great number makes it impossible to not be on the side of John Wick. Many people feel that "me against the world" sentiment, which makes it so human. What's another catch catch? John Wick was, and still is one of them. Therefore, it is not only a physical battle, but also a psychological one, with John Wick being the easy favorite despite being the underdog.
And finally: Keanu Reeves IS John Wick
Casual fans might think that John Wick boosts Keanu Reeves. If that is the case, you are grossly mistaken. Keanu Reeves makes John Wick. Keanu Reeves is John Wick. Human and imperfect. So determined yet so mellow. Keanu Reeves as John Wick soundly validates the “no other actor can play this character” cliché simply by virtue of his appearance, career trajectory, and even personal life. There are only a select few film franchises in recent memory that are as loved as John Wick
What John Wick is as a character bears irrefutable semblance to Keanu as an actor, or if it is also safe to say, as a person. From Bill and Ted to Speed to Bram Stoker’s Dracula to the Matrix trilogy, to his personal tragedies and flaws as an actor, here is an actor who has routinely portrayed relatable, thoughtful, underdog, and reserved yet firmly determined characters. Had a grotesquely muscle-bound, less sensitive, all-brawn actor been cast as John Wick instead of Keanu Reeves, John Wick would simply be another run-of-the-mill comic book hero turned screen attraction, the number of whom you have probably lost count of. Had that been the case, John Wick’s uniqueness would greatly diminish. John Wick’s sad past, mistakes, unwavering determination to right a wrong, soft human side with a steady moral compass, and of course, fondness for dogs, qualities that are undeniably Keanu Reeves's, make Keanu Reeves the perfect actor to play John Wick. Keanu is John. John is Keanu. People adore and can relate to Keanu Reeves, and that is why they love John Wick. Hopefully, cat people also agree.