Seaton At The Movies: The John Wick Films

Hello, fellow movie lovers! It is I, your humble humorist, and today I’m attempting something I’ve never done before: a review of four movies at once. This week we’re taking a ride through the cinematic universe of John Wick. Buckle up, because this is going to be a bumpy and extremely bullet-ridden journey through all four installments of the Keanu Reeves-led action franchise.

I’ll get the pleasantries out of the way from the start. These are probably my favorite action films of the past decade. Make a point to see them. If you haven’t, you’re missing out on some of the most intense action scenes to ever grace celluloid. But let’s be completely honest here— the biggest positives of the series are Keanu Reeves making it cool to wear dark suits and dress shoes again, and John Wick taking out bad guys like he’s nonchalantly strolling through a park.

This post will contain SPOILERS (ooh, such a naughty word to some people), so if you want to watch these and be surprised, here’s a photo of John Wick’s dog. We’ll see you next week.

(insert attached cute puppy photo)

For those of you still with me, let’s start with 2014’s “John Wick.” The first film introduces us to the titular character, a retired assassin who is grieving the loss of his wife. The two things John cares for the most in life are his prized ’69 Mustang and his puppy, Daisy. Yes Wick, like most men, finds great comfort in his car and his dog.

(We’re already reinforcing gender stereotypes? Hoo boy. Send all hate mail to [email protected])

Little did we realize Daisy would be the catalyst for the entire franchise. Or that the cause of so much of Mr. Wick’s misery would be the fucking Russians. I mean we’ve all known the Russians are trouble for years, but these Russians—the Russian mob—make Cruella de Vil look like an absolute friend to your local humane society.

When a punk kid with an entitlement complex decides to steal John’s prized car and kill Daisy in the process, it’s game on. John Wick dives back into his past as an unstoppable hitman, and all hell breaks loose – quite literally. The body count in this film alone could rival a small-town population. It’s bloody, it’s brutal, and we can’t help but root for John as he seeks vengeance for Daisy’s untimely demise.

It’s not the guns, knives or other implements that make Mr. Wick dangerous. It’s actually his can do attitude. Seriously, if this movie conveys any important life lessons the biggest is probably “You can kill anyone if you put your mind to it.” We are told John Wick is a man of “focus, determination and sheer will.” There are legendary stories of Wick killing four men with nothing more than a pencil. Seriously, a pencil. I can barely use a pencil to write a grocery list, let alone take down an entire criminal organization. Yet Wick murders people with writing instruments as easily as you and I breathe.

The sequel, premiering in 2017, sees Wick pulled back into the life he worked so hard to leave behind. Mr. Wick would prefer to leave the killing to his past but he has to honor a marker from Italian mobster Santino D’Antonio. It’s like the universe is saying, “Hey John, remember when you killed like a hundred people for your dog? Well, we’re not quite done with you yet.”

We are treated to spectacular views of Rome in this film, which serves as a nice backdrop against all the bloodshed. During this film viewers inevitably ask one question: how does John Wick kill so many people and keep his black designer suit so immaculate in the process? I swear he never gets any blood on the suit, just his white dress shirts.

Movie magic, I guess.

This film introduces us to the antagonists for the rest of the series, the High Table. They’re a shadowy criminal organization that controls the world. You know that drunken Republican uncle you see every holiday who starts ranting about the secret cabal of elites who run everything? That’s the High Table, except they’re much meaner and not really into touching kids like your drunk uncle swears rich and powerful people love to do.

Chapter Two’s piece de resistance has to be the Catacombs shootout, where Wick showcases the “Gun-Fu” style of combat that is a hallmark of this franchise. It’s the perfect blend of martial arts and gunslinging, and makes John Wick a candidate for the patron saint of multi-tasking.

The ending leaves a bit too much meat on the bone for any other sequel. But this is John Wick. We’re far past the boundaries of what most mortal men consider possible anyway.

Mayhem abounds in 2019’s Chapter Three. This installment is titled “Parabellum.” A Google search tells me Parabellum is the name of a German semiautomatic pistol. It’s also part of the Latin phrase “Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum.” I am not a Latin scholar like my mean-ass editor, but I believe the translation of “Para Bellum” is “prepare for war,” and that’s exactly what Wick does in this film.

Our hero is on the run here. He’s been declared “Excommunicado” by the High Table, which means none of the apparent legion of assassins milling about us daily can help him in any way. To add insult to injury, Wick has a $14 million bounty on his head. This is enough money to where homeless people are trying to kill him. You know it’s a problem when every homeless person in New York sees you and thinks “all I have to do is put a bullet in this asshole’s head and I’m set for life!”

Fortunately for Mr. Wick, in this film he has assistance from Sofia (Halle Berry) and her trained Belgian Malinois dogs. I’m just going to put this out there–if Halle Berry approached me with two attack dogs I’d tell her “Yes ma’am, I’ll do whatever you want. Please don’t let your dogs menace my twig and berries.”

Chapter Three’s big bad is the High Table’s Adjudicator, a stone cold bitch out for “justice” to make right what the High Table considers a serious violation of their rules for the killers who serve them. She enlists the help of Zero (Mark Dacascos) to kill Wick, which is weird because I think of Dacascos as the enigmatic and hungry Chairman of Iron Chef’s Kitchen Stadium.

I can’t figure out whether Zero is ready to reveal a secret ingredient and yell “Avec Cuisine!” or run a poor soul through with his katana. This is what too much TV does to a person. Just saying.

Anyway, in this film Wick seeks guidance of the Elder, the mysterious leader of the High Table. Before he gets to the Elder, however, Wick most endure a gauntlet of assassins, a gunfight on horseback, and a lethal encounter with Sofia. With every film the stakes are raised, and the action becomes more jaw dropping. Kind of like the viewer’s popcorn consumption.

Let’s move to the most recent film, 2022’s Chapter Four. Wick is now fully on the warpath and ready to burn the entire High Table to the ground along with anyone who even tries to speak nicely of the criminal masterminds.

This might be the last of the John Wick movies. Maybe this is why when it comes to amazing set pieces and ridiculous combat John Wick 4 says to the other films “Okay, y’all did good. Now hold my beer.” It’s the longest of the series and the most action packed. We are treated to amazing scenes from the deserts of Egypt to the streets of Osaka. This film goes back to the well of what made the series great–gunfights, Keanu looking stoic as he murders hundreds per minute, inventive hand to hand combat, and of course, dogs.

Killers are coming at Wick from every direction, but he still makes time to look good in a tailored suit which still has no blood on it and still seek his gory vengeance on those who wronged him. It’s a tale as old as time, but one these days which would see an endorsement by the ASPCA.

In true John Wick fashion, the film features a variety of creative and pulse-pounding set pieces, like a shootout in a glass maze and a daring escape from a heavily fortified fortress. As the credits roll, we can’t help but wonder: is this the end of Mr. Wick’s rampage or another chapter in his blood soaked journey?

The John Wick movies are an adrenaline-fueled tribute to action cinema, blending artful choreography with heart-pounding storytelling. Reeves’ portrayal of the stoic assassin is both haunting and captivating, and the series’ commitment to practical effects is a refreshing change of pace in the CGI-dominated landscape.

Every film is rated R for ridiculous violence and language. If you’ve watched “Saw” you’ve seen the level of carnage in the John Wick movies. Mostly. All are available on Amazon Prime.

So, if you’re looking for a movie night full of gunplay, revenge, and a healthy dose of canine companionship, look no further than the John Wick franchise. Just remember to hold onto your popcorn – things are about to get messy.

That’s all for this week, dear readers! Until next time, stay safe, keep your suits immaculate, your watches worn with the face on the outside of your wrist, and above all else: never fuck [with] a man’s dog.

We’ll see you next week!

7 thoughts on “Seaton At The Movies: The John Wick Films

  1. Mike V.

    In training circles, it is a known thing that guns, knives, sticks, and pencils are just tools. The person (mind and body) is the weapon. John epitomizes this.

    But the Wick films also have a very dry sense of humor. In the first film Jimmy the Cop responds to a noise complaint at John’s house, sees a dead body on the floor and says: “Working again John?” “No, just working through some things.” And the best lines in JW3 were Sofia: “He shot my dog!” John: “I get it.”

    On the whole, the Wick films are a pleasant way of killing (pardon the pun) a couple of hours each. I sort of hope they continue but I know Keanu isn’t getting any younger, so maybe he’ll have to take on an apprentice.

    1. CLS

      You bring up a great point of the first film people don’t usually pick up on. The way the word “working” is used repeatedly as a euphemism for killing throughout the film is really funny.

      “You working tonight, Mr. Wick?”
      “Afraid so. Why don’t you take the night off?”
      “Thank you, Mr. Wick.”

      1. Mike V

        Yep, work and business = killing.

        John Wick: [points a gun at Francis’ head] Hello, Francis.
        Francis: Mr. Wick.
        John Wick: [in Russian] You’ve lost weight.
        Francis: [in Russian] Over sixty pounds.
        John Wick: [in Russian] Yeah? Impressive.
        Francis: Are you here on business, sir?
        John Wick: Afraid so, Francis.
        John Wick: Why don’t you take the night off?
        Francis: Thank you, sir.

        Which points out something else. Wick isn’t an indiscriminate killer. He only kills those who give him cause, either by killing his dog, burning his house down, or trying to kill him.

  2. Ross

    Keanu Reeves comes by the gun handling honestly. I’ve seen multiple videos of him competing and training for 3 gun competitions, and he’s actually darn good at it. As opposed to other stars who just get a stunt double to do all the work.

    I like the John Wick movies. They are entertaining, have dry humor, and are a goid way to c onsume a few hours.

  3. David

    I didn’t like 2 or 3, but given positive reviews saw 4 in the theatre (4DX theatre so in addition to seats moving had water spray for e.g. gushing throat wounds and pneumatic hits in back and past head for bullets) and it was so good it retroactively made 2 and 3 better in my mind.

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