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The Modern Keanu Reeves Classic That's Killing It On Amazon Video

Even six years later, John Wick is inevitable. 

The first film in the franchise has recently climbed back into Amazon's Top 10 most streamed films, settling in amongst the 2020 releases and the Christmas movies you might expect to be there. If it feels a little out of place, then maybe you should ask what everyone in his movies does, "Who's going to stop him?" A better question than "Why are so many people watching John Wick right now?" might be "Why wouldn't you watch John Wick right now?" 

It's one of the best action films of the last decade, such a major success that it has already spawned two sequels, with two more already in production, and multiple video games. It sparked the ongoing Keanu Reeves career renaissance that has continued up through his return to the role of Ted "Theodore" Logan in Bill & Ted Face the Music earlier this year.

His latest career stop could be the reason so many people are choosing John Wick lately. Reeves has a starring role in the highly-anticipated action role-playing video game Cyberpunk 2077 from developer CD Projekt, scheduled for release December 10. He provides voice and motion-capture performance for the character of Johnny Silverhands, who serves as an in-story legend and guide to the player-created protagonist through the game's chaotic, futuristic world. If you're a gamer who has been eagerly awaiting the chance to fight through hordes of bad guys alongside Keanu Reeves, then why not kill the time by watching Keanu Reeves fight through hordes of bad guys on his own?

Some spoilers for John Wick beyond.

What is John Wick about?

The basic premise behind John Wick is so simple and so memorable that its moral has bubbled up into the cultural consciousness even for people who haven't seen the movie: Don't mess with Keanu Reeves' dog.

Specifically, if you're the pretentious son (Alfie Allen) of a big-time Russian mobster (Michael Nyqvist), don't break into the home of a legendary retired assassin (Reeves), knock him unconscious, steal his car, and kill the puppy he received as a final gift from his dead wife. This is a man who, the father explains to the son, once killed three men in a bar with a pencil. "John will come for you, and you will do nothing because you can do nothing," he tells his son.

Which doesn't stop them from trying. Viggo, the father, puts a bounty on John Wick's head, offering it to the likes of his mentor Marcus (Willem Dafoe) and acquaintance Ms. Perkins (Adrianne Palicki). The son goes into hiding, first in a nightclub surrounded by armed guards, and then in a safe house. He is, as everyone predicted, unsuccessful in his attempts to escape John, who then turns his attention to the father.

Along the way the basic details of this shadow world of assassins is sketched out so it can be filled in later by the sequels. The safe ground of the Continental Hotel and its proprietor Winston (Ian McShane). The "impossible task," which John had to complete before he could go into retirement. The legend of John Wick, who everyone has heard of and everyone is afraid of.

What makes John Wick a modern classic?

John Wick was directed by veteran stunt performers Chad Stahelski, who doubled for Reeves in The Matrix, and David Leitch, so it's no surprise that its action sequences are excellent. The character's method of combining gunplay with close-combat fighting –– grappling, spinning, tripping, or stunning an opponent first, only to finish him off with a point-blank headshot –– was something unique, a style that allowed Reeves to be both balletic and brutal in his fights.

But also of note is the way the movie smartly contrasts the myth of John Wick with the man as he works. To hear Viggo talk of him as an unstoppable killing machine gives audiences one kind of picture of how this revenge quest is going to play out, but the movie subverts that. It hurts him. He is thrown and flipped and shot and stabbed and dropped off a balcony by a henchman, a powerful henchman, but still. He is captured and taunted by the bad guys and often gets by only with a little help from his friends. Nevertheless, he perseveres. Just because he doesn't lose doesn't mean he can't come close. He is inevitable, but not invincible, and that makes his cinematic debut worth a watch, no matter the season.