No 5: The Matrix and John Wick franchises (Exploring my Top 10 favorite movies)

By Herman M. Lagon

IN PREVIOUS columns, I have guided readers through an odyssey of cinematic masterpieces, each having its unique blend of artistry and narrative prowess. From the emotional resonance of “Magnifico” and the raw intensity of “Joker” to the historical chronicle of “12 Years a Slave” and the epic saga of “The Lord of The Rings Trilogy,” each film has left an indelible mark on the cinematic landscape. Today, however, we venture into two realms that redefine action, philosophy, and introspection: The Matrix and John Wick franchises. Two worlds I find impossible to rank, for both excel in realms of film artistry that make them undeniably exceptional.

At the heart of the “Matrix” series is a labyrinth of thought-provoking questions interwoven with groundbreaking visuals. Directed by the Wachowski siblings and led by charismatic actor Keanu Reeves, it challenges our perception of reality through its central theme of Reality vs. Illusion. As Morpheus cryptically states, “What is real? How do you define ‘real’?” This fundamental inquiry propels the characters—and the audience—on a journey of self-discovery and understanding. Yet, intertwined with this is the perpetual tug-of-war between Choice and Destiny. The enigmatic guidance of “I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it” highlights the series’ deep dive into free will and the strings of fate.

In stark contrast, yet equally mesmerizing, is the adrenaline-fueled world of “John Wick.” Directed by Chad Stahelski and brought to life also by Reeves, the series is an aesthetic ballet of action. But beneath its surface is the profound exploration of Revenge and its Consequences. John Wick’s roaring declaration, “People keep asking if I’m back, and I haven’t really had an answer. But now, yeah, I’m thinkin’ I’m back!” encapsulates his unyielding descent into vengeance. Yet, the series also grapples with The Burden of the Past. As antagonist Viggo Tarasov ominously reminds us, “John Wick isn’t exactly the boogeyman. He’s the one you send to kill the f***ing boogeyman.”

“John Wick” made its cinematic debut in 2014 and subsequently captivated audiences with “Chapter 2” in 2017, “Chapter 3 (Parabellum)” in 2019, and “Chapter 4” in 2023. In contrast, “The Matrix” first enthralled viewers in 1999, later broadening its saga with “The Matrix Reloaded” and “The Matrix Revolutions,” both in 2003, and then reviving the narrative with “The Matrix Resurrections” in 2021.

Now, any exploration of these two franchises would be complete with recognizing the sheer production brilliance that went behind them. From the meticulous world-building breathtaking action choreography to the gripping storytelling, both franchises have set industry benchmarks. Their musical scores resonate with the narratives, amplifying emotions and lending a haunting atmosphere that sticks with viewers long after the credits roll.

Equally noteworthy is the caliber of acting. Reeves, the common thread between both franchises, delivers performances that are both intense and nuanced. His portrayal of Neo’s transformation from a disillusioned hacker to the messianic “One” is compelling. Simultaneously, John Wick personifies raw emotion, effortlessly shifting from grief-stricken vulnerability to relentless fury.

In the backdrop of such dazzling displays of cinema, one might discern a soulful undertone—a quest for deeper understanding, a search for one’s true calling amidst external facades. Just as we seek clarity and purpose through introspection, the characters in these franchises grapple with their own internal and external realities, always seeking truth.

It is fascinating to observe how both series, despite their distinct narratives and universes, converge on universal themes. They echo the shared human experiences of quest, conflict, and resolution. These themes touch our souls because they reflect our shared human journey through perceptions, choices, actions, and their inevitable consequences.

The worlds of The Matrix and John Wick serve as mirrors. They force us to confront our perceptions, decisions, and the very essence of our humanity. They remind us of the power of Choice, the weight of the past, and the blurred lines between illusion and reality. As we immerse ourselves in these cinematic masterpieces, we are not just passive viewers but active participants, constantly evaluating our place in the grand tapestry of existence. And as the curtains fall, they leave us with hope—a belief in the human spirit’s resilience and the infinite possibilities the future holds.


Doc H fondly describes himself as a ‘student of and for life’ who, like many others, aspires to a life-giving and why-driven world that is grounded in social justice and the pursuit of happiness. His views herewith do not necessarily reflect those of the institutions he is employed or connected with.