Fan Theory Friday: Is ‘John Wick 2’ a Secret Sequel to ‘The Matrix?

One writer thinks so and we really, really want to agree.

Welcome back to Fan Theory Friday, where we explore the most ridiculous and ridiculously-valid fan theories concerning you favorite films and TV shows. This week’s outlandish connection comes from writer Tom Guise, who works over at The Red Bulletin, and it involves the two action franchises held down by the inimitable Keanu Reeves: The Matrix and John Wick. This theory posits that the second chapter of the latter film is a secret sequel of sorts to the former trilogy. Mind blown yet? Just wait.

One of these is AM, one is PM … choose carefully.

The full argument is Guise’s so you should hit the link above for all the gritty details, but for the sake of economy allow me to sing the high notes for you. Guise has built his theory on basically four pillars:

  1. First and foremost, for this theory to hold any water at all, John Wick and Neo have to be the same dude. This facet is easy to accept, after all the characters’ fighting styles are similar, their ease with killing tons of folk at once, their silent and stoic demeanors, their penchant for black, and their knacks for not getting shot despite the hail of gunfire seemingly always surrounding them. The only problem here is that Neo did all this stuff in The Matrix, while John Wick lives in the real world. Unless he doesn’t.
  2. Because what if the world of John Wick Chapter 2 takes place inside The Matrix? Think about it: like the Crank movies, John Wick has a very video-game quality to it, including a protagonist who seems to have unlimited lives. In the second film particularly there are a handful of moments that inject artificiality, like when Ian McShane’s character “pauses” everyone in a park. These could be intended as obvious feats of artifice from a stylized filmmaker, or they could be glitches in The Matrix. Furthermore, Guise points out that both film feature oblivious bystanders, people who are witness to violence but who don’t react to it, like all those wandering pixels in the Grand Theft Auto games and their ilk.
  3. This is the most obvious connection, I think, thus maybe the most tell-tale proof: Morpheus, y’all. In both The Matrix and John Wick Chapter 2, Keanu’s character is dependent upon the wisdom of an older male mentor, one who prefers the shadows to the spotlight and one who is also as physically proficient as he is mentally. In both The Matrix and John Wick Chapter 2, that mentor is played by Laurence Fishburne. Coincidence? Maybe, but where’s the fun in that?
  4. Then there are the real world connections: John Wick Chapter 2’s director is Chad Stahelski, who got his start in the industry as a stuntman, specifically as Keanu’s double, specifically as Keanu’s double in, among other things, The Matrix trilogy. Furthermore, Stahelski was also Brandon Lee’s double on The Crow and filled in for him onscreen after the actor’s tragic death. Just imagine if you were to take the themes of the latter film — resurrection, revenge, redemption — and meld them with the characters and universe of the former trilogy. You’d end up with something that looks a helluva lot like John Wick Chapter 2.

This really is just the tip of the iceberg, Guise has a lot more going on in his complete theory, including how JWC2 could also be inferred as a sort of Highlander prequel, and how it honors Enter the Dragon.

Verdict: the connections are too esoteric to make a clean call, but it isn’t impossible, meaning we have the joy of awaiting future films — both John Wick 3 and a new Matrix movie are in development — to see if the theory can hold up.

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