I am currently playing catch up on Camp NaNoWriMo, so this post is late and will probably be a bit shorter than usual. A few weeks ago, I decided to have an easy night and just watch big, moving, action movies while having a drink at home. John Wick had been on my to watch list for awhile, and it seemed like the perfect film for my mood. I was not wrong or disappointed. Seriously, go watch this movie at your earliest possible opportunity. As always, SPOILERS ahead.
The entire plot of John Wick revolves around a retired assassin (Keanu Reeves) coming out of retirement for one last mission of revenge. I know it sounds like an overplayed plot, but it completely works for. Trust me. This film is basically a series of incredible action sequences that deserve your eyeballs. However, within the over the top fighting scenes lie a few key lessons worth examining.
Early on in the film a punk ass, wanna be tough guy Russian mobster’s son decides that he has a big set of cajones and breaks into John Wick’s house with a few of his lackeys/bodyguards. Once there, he beats Wick, steals his car, and (worst of all) kills John Wick’s dog. (Never mess with a man’s dog!) Normally, this would be enough to piss anyone off, but this particular dog had special meaning for John. This was the last gift his deceased wife had left for him, so that he could have something to love and care for once she passed. She was leaving him an anchor to keep himself grounded in his new life and away from his past. Once that was gone, John Wick was back with a vengeance. This is the first lesson: We all have something that keeps us grounded and sane. Remove that tether and people will go off their rails into the unknown.
One of the moments when I realized that this would be a great movie came early on in the film. After his car is stolen, the idiot, wannabe Russian gangster tries to sell the car to a chop shop. The owner of said establishment (played by the always entertaining John Leguizamo) recognizes the car and immediately goes ape shit. He smacks the punk around and throws him, and his crew, out of his shop. The wannabe’s father, a true Russian mobster, calls the chop shop and demands an explanation. The chop shop owner simply replies that the car his son brought in belonged to John Wick. The Russian mobster just says “Oh” and hangs up. John Wick’s name alone was enough to quiet the rage of Russian mobster and father. Because of his name, and reputation, the Russian boss brought down the full force of his empire upon John Wick knowing that it was necessary. This is the next lesson: We are only as good as our names. John Wick had been out of the game for years and his name still commanded this level of respect, fear, and awe.
There are many more lessons that can definitely be mined and examined, but there was one thing that really shone through the rest of the film. It was the sense of honor among the criminals and assassins. Really. The Russian father understood why John Wick was doing what he was doing and Wick knew why the Russian mobster had to protect his failure of a son, even though he was a huge disappointment. As well, there were certain codes of conduct and etiquette among the assassin community with dire consequences for breaking those rules. They may be killers and criminals, but even they have a sense of honor and duty. Which brings us to the last lesson for today: Regardless of anything else, one must have a code to follow and guide them that is above reproach. Everyone’s particular code and parameters may be different, but they must still be present or suffer grave repercussions for either not having or following them.
Thus endeth today’s lessons. Now, go watch this movie and enjoy. Trust me, you will.