5 Reasons John Wick Is Keanu Reeves’ Best Movie Franchise & 5 Reasons It’s The Matrix

While The Matrix and John Wick could both be called Keanu Reeves’ best movie series, only one of the action franchises can claim this title.

Both the John Wick movies and The Matrix franchise could claim to be Keanu Reeves’ best movie series, but only one can win this battle. Although Point Break had already proven that Keanu Reeves had the potential to be an action hero years earlier, 1999’s The Matrix made the actor an A-list star in the genre. The sci-fi movie was a massive hit upon release and soon garnered a cult following thanks to its stylish action sequences, its thoughtful commentary on society and culture, and its innovative effects. However, the Matrix sequels never really lived up to the hype that surrounded the original movie.

Even though the franchise’s fourth installment was considered a return to form, The Matrix movies are still seen as an uneven series even by fans of the franchise. In contrast, Reeves’ next successful action series could not have been a bigger departure from the self-serious philosophical pondering of The Matrix movies. 2014’s John Wick was an unapologetically cheesy, relentlessly brutal action thriller about a retired assassin avenging his dog’s murder with a seemingly endless killing spree. This resulted in three sequels, each of which made the John Wick series more elaborate and fun. Inevitably, viewers began to question which franchise was the star’s best action series.

10John Wick’s World Building Was More Successful

john wick walking in the rain in john wick 3: parabellum, and the hotel continental in john wick

The world of the John Wick movies became more immersive with each new installment. By John Wick: Chapter 4 and its spinoff, The Continental, the series had been filled with enough colorful characters to populate a half dozen action franchises. In contrast, The Matrix franchise lost its allure as viewers learned more about its eponymous setting. In the original movie, the revelation that TheMatrix’s hero Neo was living in a simulated reality was mind-blowing but, as the series continued, the Architect’s lectures about the Matrix’s complicated layered reality turned out to be drier than many viewers anticipated.

9John Wick’s Movies Are More Re-Watchable

Collage of John Wick holding various weapons including a machine gun, handgun, and knife

In terms of pure fun, the John Wick franchise has The Matrix movies handily beaten. While John Wick’s carefully choreographed action sequences are always worth another re-watch, The Matrix’s undeniably jaw-dropping action is dragged down by long stretches of exposition in the lesser sequels. While The Matrix movies feature some amazing chase scenes and fight sequences, these are only part of their bigger story. Thus, for viewers who just want nothing but action, John Wick’s greatest fights make the franchise a winner here.

8John Wick’s Movies Are More Consistent

John Wick pointing a gun during the Marquis duel in John Wick 4

Despite its tone growing sillier and its world getting bigger, in terms of quality, the John Wick series has stayed the same since the franchise began in 2014. In contrast, The Matrix was seen as an era-defining masterpiece, its first two sequels were both seen as major disappointments, and its reboot was divisive. For many viewers, The Matrix Resurrections was a return to form, but even these defenders would have to admit that the movie’s first two sequels failed to live up to the original, unlike John Wick’s more consistent follow-ups.

7John Wick’s Action Is More Impactful

Keanu Reeves as John Wick with the sun rising behind him in John Wick: Chapter 4.

The fact that the Matrix movies are set largely in a simulated reality, along with their CGI-heavy action scenes, means that John Wick’s franchise installments hit harder. There is no denying that The Matrix movies feature stunning action, but wires and digital assistance meant that these action scenes have a uniquely weightless feel that renders them less intense. In contrast, the John Wick series features some bruising fight choreography.

6John Wick’s Villains Are More Varied

Viggo in his warehouse in John Wick

Since The Matrix movies rely so heavily on their pre-established lore, the series mostly focuses on only two major villains. Admittedly, Neil Patrick Harris’s The Analyst replaced the original trilogy’s Architect in 2021’s The Matrix: Resurrections, and Jonathan Groff played Agent Smith in the reboot while Hugo Weaving played him in the original trilogy. However, the series still falls back on versions of Smith and some aloof, string-pulling figure as its two major villains, while the antagonists of the John Wick franchise grow gradually zanier as the series progresses.

5The Matrix Has A Better Story Than John Wick

Keanu Reeves as Neo in The Matrix Reloaded

The Matrix movies are ambitious to a fault, setting up an entire world that the ambitiously meta The Matrix Resurrections then deconstructed and reinvented years later. While the world-building of the John Wick movies feels more convincing, the plot of TheMatrix trilogy and its reboot is less predictable. The Matrix movies throw viewers between different realities and make the watcher question everything, whereas the John Wick series is content with a mostly straightforward story.

4The Matrix Had More Memorable Heroes Than John Wick

Custom image of Joe Pantoliano as Cypher and Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity in The Matrix.

While John Wick has some great associates throughout the franchise, the series isn’t known for prioritizing any characters beyond its titular hero. This makes sense since the series is named after him. After all, he is a lone wolf at heart, and has been ever since his wife died. In contrast, Neo needs Trinity to work and his connection with her is more compelling than any relationship John Wick has in his four movies.

3The Matrix’s Action Is More Impressive Than John Wick’s Fights

Carrie Anne Moss and Keanu Reeves in The Matrix

The fights in the John Wick series are undeniably impressive and, even outside of these fist fights and bullet ballets, the many chase sequences of the franchise are superb. That said, the action sequences of The Matrix movies are on another level entirely. The Matrix did more to define the aesthetic of the 2000s action movies than any other singular film. The weightless CGI wire-fu may not be to everyone’s tastes, but there is no denying it was an incredible technical achievement at the time.

2The Matrix Has A Deeper Meaning Than John Wick

Neo is lifted up like Jesus in The Matrix Revolutions

The Matrix movies admittedly do get mocked for their pop philosophizing, but they do make an admirable stab at taking on some seriously deep themes. Unlike most blockbuster franchises, The Matrix leads the viewer to question concepts as broad as social construction, identity, gender, work, and the self. The John Wick movies don’t attempt to match this level of profundity and, while they don’t need to, The Matrix movies do deserve props for this ambition.

1The Matrix Is More Influential Than John Wick

A custom image of Neo and Trinity in fighting poses

John Wick inspired everything from 2021’s Nobody to Atomic Blonde, but the movie’s influence pales in comparison to The Matrix’s impact on pop culture. For all of its flaws, The Matrix shaped the sci-fi action sub-genre for decades after its release. Even The Matrix Resurrections managed to comment on the culture of reboots, requels, and re-imaginings while still managing to influence many of the blockbuster action movies released in its wake. As a result, The Matrix is arguably Keanu Reeves’ best movie franchise despite the success of the John Wick movies.

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