In Praise of “John Wick,” the Last Great American Action-Movie Franchise

It was just a guy’s name. You could guess that he was played by Keanu Reeves, given that we’d seen laughing with a woman over a meal and kissing her against a picture-postcard vision of Manhattan’s skyline. Then we go from Sad Keanu sitting bedside in a hospital to Sadder Keanu standing graveside as a coffin is lowered into the ground. Later, he gets his wife’s posthumous gift to him: a puppy. The man and his dog, who is indeed adorable by any standard, tool around in his vintage Mustang. We know something else happened, because we’ve also briefly glimpsed Bloody Keanu, lying battered on a warehouse floor. But as far we knew, this was a movie about a gentleman — he’s called John — who lives in an exceedingly well-furnished apartment, is deep in the throes of grief and has only his faithful companion to help him move on. Maybe the pooch will teach him how to love again. Maybe he’ll meet someone nice at the dog park. The title told you nothing. It was just a guy’s name.

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