As was the case with The Matrix, we are all on the edge of a new era—2020. That Y2K “Doomsday” feeling isn’t quite there with this date, but there still is a vague nervous anticipation in the air. And certainly, our society—on the fringes, but also, to an extent, within the pop-culture of the masses—have fully absorbed the (Gnostic) idea of living in a false reality of sorts that was the crux of the film.
John Wick 3, by including Reeves’ Matrix compatriot Laurence “Morpheus” Fishburne, is a “marker” of sorts leading backwards two decades to that key film. It reminds us of how much time has passed…but also that it feels strangely as if no time has passed. (A re-cycle, if you will; and of course there is the folklore that Reeves is really an immortal.)
The trailer for John Wick 3 (three, the number of completion of cycles) is like a “remix” of that of The Matrix—both aesthetically & tonally. We have Reeves once again as the “wanted man” fleeing the assassin-types in suits; he visits the Oracle-type wise lady figure (while holding a cross, yet); he encounters his Trinity-like female counterpart to assist him; he navigates cool techno fight-scenes while blasting away.
And then there’s also the idea, as in The Matrix, of the world being a type of “dream”—as “Dream The Impossible Dream” plays in the background. (Morpheus, of course, the God of dreams)
I have to believe, given the amount of fan-service Hollywood delivers these days, that many of these similarities were intentional. But there is the intentional meta quality, and then the underlying symbolic/quantum connections.
Reeves has made a cottage industry out of these frankly Jesus-type figures; dressing like a futuristic priest in The Matrix, utilizing Catholic iconography in Constantine; playing the “alien-messiah” Klaatu in The Day The Earth Stood Still.
We see this archetype pop up again and again in pop-culture as we collectively enter new eras. While the John Wick franchise is essentially “action” in genre, what are the deeper meanings here?
Maybe: that in the end, it’s all sort of the same story.