The following contains spoilers for John Wick and John Wick: Chapter 2. If you haven’t seen either of those movies, a lot of this will still make sense to you (as context is provided) but it’ll be a little easier to comprehend if you’ve seen it. Also, the John Wick movies so far are among some of my favorite movies ever; (Next to Heat, School of Rock and Airplane!) I’d highly suggest watching them both.
John Wick is a man of focus… commitment… sheer will. He once killed three men in a bar with nothing but a pencil. A fucking pencil. John Wick is unquestionably the most efficient killer in the John Wick universe: possibly the most efficient killer in all of movie history if you only consider those who go it alone against entire armies of men. He’s up there with every Arnold role. With that being said, John Wick: Chapter 2 ends with John Wick needing to escape New York after being deemed excommunicado (that means “get the fuck out my assassin’s club”) by Winston, given only an hour to prepare for every hitman in the world to come after him. This led me to believe John Wick might take a different approach: surely he can’t keep up this bloodshed forever. He doesn’t have nearly enough ammo to kill everyone in the world. He might have to find a desk job and simply become a new man. But what is John Wick good at? What can we determine from John Wick’s actions in both of his movies that sets him up for a new future?
That’s what this is. That’s what this dumb shit is. Strap in.
JOHN WICK: PET CARE SPECIALIST
MY REASONING: John Wick’s (the original film) premise is entirely reliant on John Wick’s dog being killed by Iosef Tarasov. I don’t think John Wick would’ve given nearly as much of a shit if Iosef Tarasov had simply stolen his car. He might’ve went and stolen it back, maybe killed someone as a “hey, look what can happen to you if you do that again!” move, but I doubt we’d have gotten the same rampage as the dog. Regardless, John Wick hosts a bunch of skills relative to this job. He’s dedicated to his animals in an endearing way — one that leads him to take down an entire arm of the Russian mob in 90 minutes. On top of that, he’s ridiculously devoted to what he cares for, selfless in his efforts to find vengeance for those who wrong his pet(s) and he also generally looks great with a puppy at his side. Here’s what the puppy dying led to in JW1.
THE VERDICT: John Wick would be a bad pet care specialist. Come on. One of ’em is dead and the other one got left at a Hotel desk for a couple days while he went on a killing spree to avenge his dead house. No matter how many bodies he claims in the pursuit of dog love, he’s probably not too good at getting fleas out. Also, he feeds his dog cornflakes in the first movie. Next.
JOHN WICK: HEART SURGEON
MY REASONING: You’ve heard of the term “Surgical Precision” before. John Wick has all of the necessary tools one man can intrinsically hold within himself to be an open heart surgeon. He has absolute, absolute focus and dedication to whatever he does. He has incredibly good reflexes, ability to micromanage things while working on a larger project and most of all, has a dead-set accurate set of hands that kill 112 people in the second movie with guns alone. Sure, as they stand now, John Wick’s hands exist solely to take lives and not to give them but John’s hands are truly, truly gifted. Here’s a bizarre scene from John Wick: Chapter 2 showcasing just how precise he is. Although he doesn’t hit his adversary once, he also doesn’t stray hit any innocent people and brushes past his head multiple times.
THE VERDICT: John Wick would not be a good heart surgeon. People, the skills that John Wick has do not account for years and years upon years of training to perform open heart surgery. None of this matters if he doesn’t go to school, and he’s not going to school now because the Professor he learns from is probably going to try to kill him. Also, the currency used by John in every single scene in John Wick and John Wick: Chapter 2 is gold doubloon-like coins, as if he’s a pirate. I don’t think admissions offices take gold doubloons. Onto the next one.
JOHN WICK: STUNT DRIVER
MY REASONING: John Wick: Chapter 2 starts off with this car chase scene, more or less. John gets his car back from the Tarasov family’s chop shop in a 4-minute adrenaline-fueled car chase shootout culminating in John’s escape with his (now) totaled Mustang. The thing is, John takes on so many people/factors in this scene, he’s canonically in the realm of Baby in Baby Driver, The Driver in The Driver (the one from ’78, not the Gosling one), and Jason Bourne in The Bourne Identity. What makes his maneuvers so impressive is the fact that John is already doing great at zipping around inside of the tight, compact warehouse corridors. It’s when he jumps the car out of the warehouse and into the rainy docking bay seamlessly that he shows his mettle. Gears shifting up and down effortlessly, management of his traction done in the back of his head and even after the car is smashed by four different enemy vehicles, he only gets better. See, prior, John was passively driving and evading the adversaries as best he could. After they hit him, he does what John Wick does best: turn whatever he has into a weapon. Chased by a motorcycle? Get him to pull up on his side, open the door and jam on the brakes to stop him in his tracks. Blockaded by a Nissan Altima? Show them why the Altima isn’t revered like the Mustang by plowing the car into the driver’s side door. Guy still alive? Hit the car again for bonus points. You understand where I’m going.
THE VERDICT: John Wick would be an excellent stunt driver. The issue here is that his work would be so absolutely seamless, excellent and realistic that in the credits for the movies, people would stay the extra 5 minutes just to research him and see what else he’s been in. It’ll probably raise a few flags when John Wick’s alias name doesn’t show up as a stunt driver anywhere else, and then the alarm will be sounded on our favorite assassin. This job will pay the bills, but there’s a price it’ll never be able to pay if he’s found again.
JOHN WICK: BOARDWALK CARNIVAL GAME WIZARD
MY REASONING: So, you know those state fairs with all the little kiosk games? Shoot the basketball, you keep the basketball! Water-gun the target the most consistently, win a stuffed animal! These aren’t the ones that matter to me. What matters to me is the cup game. The game where one guy will have an item under a cup. He shows you, then shuffles the cup and you decide which cup houses the item. That’s the game John Wick kills at: figuratively. See, here’s why I think this. John Wick has INCREDIBLE subconscious acknowledgement of things. In any shooting scene requiring more than 2 magazines worth of bullets to kill someone, there’s a consistent theme. John Wick has run out of ammo once mid-fight. In every other engagement, his magazine has 15 bullets. He fires 12 or so, but then reloads at 3 in the heat of the moment and in the next engagement, he’ll almost always use more than the amount of bullets he had pre-reload. His intuition is part of what makes him so lethal. Even in the catacomb shootout (where John uses 3 different guns) he’ll use 15 shots from his Assault Rifle (of the 30), swap to his pistol with 7 still in the magazine, use 4 from that and then swap back to his rifle, reload and use 17 shots in the next engagement. It’s complicated to think about, but when you watch this scene with this in mind, it becomes easier to digest.
THE VERDICT: John Wick would be a phenomenal memory-game player. Following one ball in a cup is similar to John’s method of target priority: taking down the most lethal target first and keeping an eye on every single other threat to evaluate them and take them down too. The only issue with John’s efficiency here is that being really good at find-the-ball-in-the-cup is that it’s not a sustainable profession. No one ever became a famous find-the-ball-in-the-cup player. This won’t do.
JOHN WICK: EX-HITMAN, FUGITIVE
MY REASONING: It’s all that he knows how to do at this point. I mean, sure. I could go on about how John Wick’s experience breaking his basement floor with a sledgehammer and then re-paving it with his hands is indicative of the fact John Wick could retire and go into carpentry and then point out that if any criminals hire John to fix their house or build them a wild setup like he had in the basement, he’s gonna be compromised. It’s easy. What isn’t easy is coming to grips with the fact John Wick: Chapter 3 is going to be hard to watch if John Wick himself doesn’t stay back. What I mean by that is that line he says throughout the first movies. “Everyone’s asking me if I’m back, and yeah, I think I’m back.” or “You wanted me back. I’m back.”
What plagued John through the first and second was his inability to embrace what was going on: his passion overcame his sense at times and landed him in some sticky situations. Now, there’s no room for error. He can’t be John Wick, Husband of Helen. He can only be John Wick, Baba Yaga.
You can see John Wick: Chapter 3 in theaters exactly 363 days from now. You can also watch John Wick: Chapter 2 on HBO streaming services (at the time of writing.)