eIn the spring of 2020, a bizarre theory began to circulate online. What if one of the biggest movie stars in Hollywood was about to pull a fast one on the entire world. What if two highly anticipated Keanu Reeves movies were actually one and the same?
“My mind will be blown,” he said. “There will be life before that and life after that. It would be like the first time you saw the original Matrix or the first time you saw Inception, like holy shit this is amazing.”
The theory lost some traction when Covid-related delays forced a theatrical reshuffling that meant the two movies were no longer scheduled to release on the same weekend (a bizarre coincidence, fan conspiracies aside). But its staying power speaks to a larger point: While The Matrix still claims its rightful place as one of the most important sci-fi movies of all time, the John Wick franchise has built up a surprising amount of staying power.
You might even see it’s the better trilogy of the two.
Lucky for any Keanu fans out there, the entire John Wick trilogy is available to stream online for free. (And unlike the Matrix, these movies don’t become unwatchable after the first one.) Here’s how to watch them right now and what you need to know before you do.
If you’ve been living under a rock for the past seven years, John Wick is the story of a retired assassin who picks up his guns one last time after a bunch of Russian gangsters kill his pet dog. I’m simplifying things slightly, but that really is the premise of one of the 21st century’s best original movie franchises.
However, what makes John Wick so great is the way that the movie brings you into an ever-expanding world of secret assassins and the complex rules that guide their lives. The first movie is largely set in the fictional Continental Hotel in Manhattan, a respected safe zone where no one is allowed to kill. In John Wick 2, Reeves travels to Rome and fights a rival assassin played by Common. In the third movie, he travels all the way to the Moroccan Continental while revealing more about his own murky origins.
John Wick’s other claim to fame is Gun-Fu, a mix of close-combat martial arts and shooting people that originated in tabletop gaming and Hong Kong cinema before making its way to Hollywood. The Christian Bale sci-fi vehicle Equilibrium helped popularize Gun-Fu, but John Wick made it mainstream.
That’s largely thanks to Chad Stahelski, a celebrated Hollywood stuntman who made the leap to directing with John Wick. Speaking to Inverse for the release of John Wick 3, Stahelski explained that his movies accomplish something few other action films even attempt.
“A lot of choreographers don’t like doing wide shots,” he said. “You can’t hide the hits or misses when the guys are swinging, punching, and kicking. We do grappling and ‘gun fu,’ so I can show you angles that most fight guys don’t because I don’t have to hide as much.”
And unlike The Matrix, which established an incredible universe only to squander it with two successive sequels, John Wick arguably keeps getting better. Sure, we’re holding out hope that Matrix 4 will redeem the franchise later this year; there’s little doubt that John Wick 4 will deliver yet another blood-soaked classic.
With that in mind, there’s never been a better time to rewatch the John Wick trilogy. You won’t regret it.