All This for a Dog

By Adam Sarsfield

Warning: the John Wick franchise is known for its violence and gore so it is not recommended to watch any installment of the movie unless you are of proper maturity. 

John Wick is an action, thriller, and crime trilogy directed by Chad Stahelski which features Keanu Reeves playing the infamous assassin John Wick. The John Wick franchise has spanned over nine years and 4 movies, the most recent one releasing later this year and grossing over $300 million. In order to prepare any new John Wick fans for the upcoming release of the latest installment John Wick: Chapter 4 here is a brief recap of the first three films to get you caught up. 

The first movie starts with retired legendary assassin John Wick marrying the love of his life, Helen. Her sudden death leaves John in deep mourning. When sadistic mobster Iosef Tarasov and his thugs steal John’s prized car and kill the puppy that was a last gift from his wife they launched John into a revenge-fueled rampage seeking vengeance on the mobster. Meanwhile, Iosef’s father, Viggo, sends a team of hitmen to John’s house, but John kills all of them and seeks assistance from the New York Continental Hotel, which caters exclusively to the criminal underworld. The Continental Hotel is run by a man named Winston who is willing to help John continue his path of revenge. Viggo then places a bounty on John’s head in an attempt to slow John down. After taking out another high-class assassin and learning that Iosef is in his safe house. John then travels to Iosef’s Brooklyn safe house and kills him and his bodyguards. Winston calls John to inform him that Viggo is planning to escape by helicopter. John races to New York Harbor, where he kills Viggo’s remaining henchmen before battling Viggo on the dock and successfully killing the mobster. John breaks into an animal clinic to treat his wounds and releases a pit bull puppy scheduled to be euthanized. John and the dog walk home along the boardwalk where he had his final date with Helen.

The second movie begins with John recovering his stolen Ford Mustang Mach 1 from Abram Tarasov, the late Viggo’s brother. He then returns to his home to continue his life of retirement before having it cut short again due to his past coming back to haunt him. John is visited by the Camorra crime boss Santino D’Antonio. Santino presents the blood marker John made after Santino helped John with a very difficult mission. Santino demands service from John, however he declines. Santino retaliates by destroying John’s house with a grenade launcher. John survives and travels to the Continental Hotel. John reluctantly accepts his commitment after talking to Winston and meets with Santino, who tasks him with assassinating his sister, Gianna, so he can claim her seat at the “High Table”, a council of twelve high-level crime bosses. John infiltrates Gianna’s dressing room. Facing certain death, Gianna chooses to slit her wrists. As Gianna dies, John shoots her in the head, to end her suffering and to fulfill the marker. Gianna’s bodyguard, Cassian, recognizes John and realizes that he was sent to kill Gianna so Cassian attacks John. John is double-crossed by Santino and his henchmen, who intend to tie up “loose ends” by killing him. A badly injured John seeks help from an underground crime boss known as the Bowery King, who treats John’s injuries. John pursues Santino, killing his remaining henchmen while after him, but gives Santino enough time to escape to the Continental, where he intends to remain indefinitely in its sanctuary. Despite Winston’s warnings, the injured John shoots and kills Santino in the Continental lounge. Winston then informs John that he will have one hour to get a headstart before John is hunted down by every assassin in New York and has a global bounty set on his head. The movie ends with many different cell phones lighting up after receiving a notification. 

The third and most recent movie starts with John is traversing through Manhattan when he reaches the New York public library, where he retrieves a blood marker and rosary. He presents to his old boss, The Director, and this allows John access to travel to Casablanca in order to meet with the only man above the High Table, the Elder. John is informed the only way to meet the Elder is by travelling through the desert so long you cannot travel any farther. John collapses in the desert after roaming the desert for days and is brought to the Elder, who asks why he is there; John states that he wants to live to keep the memory of the love he once had with his late wife. The Elder agrees to forgive John’s transgressions if he kills Winston and remains subservient to the High Table. John returns to New York and reaches the protection of the Continental. An Adjudicator, a High Table assassin, arrives in the New York Continental and is disappointed to hear the John and Winston would not turn on each other. In response to their refusal the Adjudicator sends an enforcement team to the Continental and removes the neutrality status of the hotel. After begrudgingly defeating the entire team of heavily armed assassins the Adjudicator, Winston, and John all meet on the roof of The Continental, the Adjudicator agrees to a parley with Winston, who offers fealty to the High Table.  Winston shoots him without killing him, and John falls off the roof to the street below. He is then collected by the Bowery King and has his wounds treated before the movie closes with the Bowery King asking John if he’s ready for revenge.

The John Wick franchise is a series of well directed and produced movies with a lot of time spent for the actors to learn real world shooting and fighting skills in order to create the move imersive triology possible. It would be impossible to properly explain how detailed these movies are and how much they focus on every single scene to be perfect and fully realistic. The soon to be releasing John Wick: Chapter 4 is creating a lot of hype as it is one of two confirmed sequels to the trilogy. Hopefully the production team doesn’t milk the franchise for everything too quickly as some series end up doing. All in all if you have the time and stream services I would highly recommend watching this incredible series.