What (Else) to Watch and/or Read if You Like John Wick

Posted on June 17, 2019

by Amy H

As assassins with book binding hobbies (book-fu!?) go, the character John Wick is pretty darn awesome. And between the Wick cannon (HA!), brilliant cameos in Toy Story 4 and Always Be my Maybe, rumors of his entry into the Marvel pantheon, and developing the recently announced Bill and Ted 3, actor Keanu Reeves is in the midst of a massive Keanuaissance.

Here’s what to watch/read after you’ve watched any/all of the above and while you’re waiting for what’s next.

Great Wick-like action films to watch

The Matrix Trilogy (of course!)

The Matrix - 1999 movie starring Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne

The Wachowski sibling-written/directed trilogy is where Reeves and Wick director Chad Stahelski first met with Stahelski working as Reeves’ stunt double. They’ve both attributed a lot of the Wick style to what they learned while working on the Matrix movies. The Matrix Trilogy follows a group of resistance fighters who have waged a war against the sentient computers who have taken over the world. The original movie is now 20 years old, yet remains relevant and popular to this day.

Taken Trilogy

Taken - movie starring Liam Neeson

Taken (now a movie trilogy) stars Liam Neeson as Brian Mills, an ex-CIA agent determined to do whatever it takes to rescue his daughter (Maggie Grace) from a human trafficking ring. Taken is a bit more Wick plot-like than Wick action-like, but if revenge is your thing, than Liam Neeson is where it’s at. And BONUS: here’s Seth McFarlane doing the infamous “Taken speech” in the voice of Kermit the Frog. Because the world needs this.

The Raid: Redemption and The Villainess

The Raid Redemption and The Villainess

If Wick action is more your thing, there are a lot of other great fight-focused movies. The Wick films were all clearly influenced by Asian martial arts films like the Indonesian Raid SeriesParabellum even pulled in two of that franchise’s most dynamic players, Cecep Arif Rahman and Yayan Ruhian, for an extended Pencak Silat exhibition. And compare the Parabellum motorcycle fight scene’s long-takes from this Tonight Show interview film clip at the 7:53 mark (and then stick around for Reeves’ marvelous speculation on what happens to us after we die) with the short camera cuts in a similar scene from The Villainess, a South Korean film.

Great Commentaries on the power of the Wickverse

The Poetic Action Storytelling of the ‘John Wick’ Franchise

How John Wick changed action movies and no one noticed

In Praise of ‘John Wick,’ The Last Great American Action-Movie Franchise

Great Wick-like books to read

Action series

Gregg Hurwitz’s Orphan X series

Raised in an orphanage, Evan Smoak, aka The Nowhere Man, grows up to be first a highly efficient assassin and then a courageous defender of the poor and downtrodden. Trained by a shadowy organization called The Orphan Program, Smoak is smart, ruthless, and unstoppable in this action-packed thriller series. Riveting drama and compelling writing make these novels impossible to put down. Series also known as the Evan Smoak thrillers (description from Novelist). The Orphan X series has 4 novels and 2 short stories (so far).

Stephen Hunter’s Bob Lee Swagger series

Former sniper Bob Lee Swagger, long retired from the Marines, feels driven to ensure that justice is done. His military background provided the skills he now employs in crime-fighting against ruthless adversaries. These novels feature complex, violent story lines, descriptive landscapes and background details, and thoughtful prose, all of which endow Swagger with the qualities of a mythic hero. (description from Novelist). The Bob Lee Swagger series has 11 novels (so far).

Miriam Black series by Chuck Wendig

When she hitches a ride with truck driver Louis Darling and foresees his brutal murder, Miriam Black, who knows when people will die, must fight for her own life while she tries to save him. (description of first book in the series – Blackbirds). The Miriam Black series has 6 novels (so far).

Richard Stark’s Parker novels

Parker, the ruthless antihero of Richard Stark’s eponymous mystery novels, is one of the most unforgettable characters in hardboiled noir. Lauded by critics for his taut realism, unapologetic amorality, and razor-sharp prose-style—and adored by fans who turn each intoxicating page with increasing urgency—Stark is a master of crime writing, his books as influential as any in the genre. The long-running Parker thriller series contains 24 novels.

David Gunn’s Death’s Head series

This rollicking, pulp military science fiction series follows the adventures of Sven, an elite soldier with high-tech guns, a fast-healing body, and telepathic powers. This sarcastic antihero narrates these offbeat books in the first person present tense, giving readers a front row seat for the action (description from Novelist). The Death’s Head series contains 3 novels.

Larry Correia’s Dead Six series

From the author of the New York Times bestselling Monster Hunter series and an Air Force weapons expert, a nonstop action, edge-of-your-seat military-political thriller in a dangerous Middle Eastern setting complete with a compelling double-viewpoint twist to pull readers along to the very last page (description of the first book in the Dead Six series). The Dead Six series has 3 novels.

Charlie Hardie Trilogy by Duane Swierczynski

The first of three explosive pulp thrillers arriving back-to-back from cult crime fiction sensation and Marvel Comics scribe Duane Swierczynski. Charlie Hardie, an ex-cop still reeling from the revenge killing of his former partner’s entire family, fearsone thing above all else: that he’ll suffer the same fate. Languishing in self-imposed exile, Hardie has become a glorified house sitter. His latest gig comes replete with an illegally squatting B-movie actress who rants about hit men who specialize in making deaths look like accidents. Unfortunately, it’s the real deal. Hardie finds himself squared off against a small army of the most lethal men in the world: The Accident People. It’s nothingpersonal-the girl just happens to be the next name on their list. For Hardie, though, it’s intensely personal. He’s not about to let more innocent people die. Not on his watch.

John Lago series by Shane Kuhn

Hit man John Lago doubles as an intern at a prestigious Manhattan law firm where he gathers intel to pull off a clean, untraceable hit, but finds his plans thwarted by a sexy FBI agent who is assigned to take down the same law partner he is targeting (description of first book in the John Lago series – The Intern’s Handbook).

Matthew Reilly (author)

Matthew Reilly is known for writing powerful action across many series (start with the Jack West series or the Scarecrow series).

Jack West series

Indiana Jones meets The Da Vinci Code in this nonstop action-packed thriller about the greatest treasure hunt of all time—a headlong race to find the seven wonders of the ancient world. ~ Description of the first novel in the series, Seven Deadly Wonders. The Jack West series contains 5 novels (so far).

Scarecrow series

A mysterious Inca idol is at the center of an treasure hunt, with governments competing to obtain the strange item and use it as a weapon as a young linguist becomes embroiled in the conspiracy when hired to translate a four-hundred-year-old manuscript that holds the key to the idol’s location. ~ Description of first book in the series, Ice Station. The Scarecrow series (also known as the Shane Schofield thrillers) contains 5 novels.

And the obvious

Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne series

When Jason Bourne resumes consciousness he has no memory of who is or how he ended up wounded floating in the Mediterranean Sea. In these suspenseful spy thrillers, Bourne searches for his identity as he is sought after by terrorists, assassins, and the CIA (description from Novelist). Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum and Eric Van Lustbader has 14 novels (so far).

Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series

Formerly a member of the military police, and now something of a drifter, Jack Reacher finds trouble wherever he goes but sticks around long enough to make things right (description from Novelist). The Jack Reacher series has 24 novels and several short stories (so far).

Stand-Alone titles

The Break Line by James Brabazon

British intelligence operative and hardened assassin, Max Maclean is sent to Sierra Leone where rebel forces are loose in the jungle and someone or something is slaughtering innocent villagers. It’s Maclean’s job to root out the monster behind these abominations, but he soon discovers that London may consider him the most disposable piece in this operation.

Jennifer Government by Max Barry

In a corporate-governed future world where people take the last names of the companies they work for, merchandising officer Hack Nike tries to get out of a contract that requires him to shoot teenagers, a situation that results in his unwitting involvement with agent Jennifer Government, who is out to get Hack’s employer.

The Driver by Hart Hanson

Ex-special forces sergeant Michael Skellig owns a small limo service. Bismarck Avila blackmails Skellig into being his exclusive driver after Skellig thwarts an attack. A crooked cop and another attempted murder make Skellig literally the only thing between Avila and a bullet to the head. “The Driver has it all–crisp dialogue, complex characters, and a plot that zips at breathtaking speed.”–Kathy Reichs. “The Driver is grim, funny, violent, and moving–all on the same page.”–T. Jefferson Parker”

The Cold Spot by Tom Piccirilli

Chase was raised as a getaway driver by his grandfather, Jonah, a con man feared by even the hardened career criminals who make up his crew. But when Jonah crosses the line and murders one of his own, Chase goes solo, stealing cars and pulling scores across the country. . . . And then he meets Lila, a strong-willed deputy sheriff with a beguiling smile who shows him what love can be. Chase is on the straight and narrow for the first time in his life—until tragedy hits, and he must reenter the dark world of grifters and crooks.

Run by Douglas E. Winter

Burdon Lane is part of a large group of criminals transporting a shipment of guns from Washington, D.C., to New York City. Just as the deal is about to go down, bedlam erupts. As Lane takes cover, his own people start shooting each other, the gun merchants begin killing their own and men dressed in police uniforms but not acting like police mysteriously show up. When the shooting stops, Lane finds himself in possession of the $2 million intended for the purchase of the guns. He has no idea, however, what has just happened. All he knows is that he must run.


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Featured Image Credit: Still movie image from John Wick 2 from courtesy of Lionsgate, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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