He’s THE guy everyone dreams of having on their side in case of a fight. For the simple and good reason that he piles up knockouts like others would do candy. Real thing. Morning, noon, evening, John Wick, a former elite hitman, back in spite of himself to business, puts off guys at the gun, sword, belt. It’s a bit his thing, what.
Presented euphemistically as “wickedly determined” by one of the protagonists of the trilogy John Wick, carried by a Keanu Reeves that we had never seen so venerable, this character has the merit of putting the eyes full. To carry out his various vendettas, everything is good. Chase on horseback, exchanges of fire in a nightclub, ultra-choreographed dezincification of skewers of assassins. But, in the end, is all this unleashing of violence well justified? Ethically speaking.
Close-up, film by film!
1. We killed our dog…
And not just any. A female beagle puppy (cute, of course) offered post-mortem by his wife, who died after a long illness. For love of her, John had left the circuit of organized crime. Out of love for her always, he hoped never to have to reinstate her. However. While our antihero mourns his beloved in an uneventful life, a thug breaks into his home at nightfall to beat him up and steal his mustang. Without forgetting, in passing, to lower his puppy under his eyes. Yes, yes, before his eyes. Ouch.
… But does that give the right to cause a massacre?
Recall of facts. After burying the animal that represented, in John’s own words, “a semblance of hope to share sorrow”the ex-hit man rushes headlong into a slightly surreal quest for revenge. The person responsible for the canicide is the son of a mafia baron? Not serious. A 2 million contract is associated with John to prevent him from carrying out his revenge? Nothing to type. Clearly, the guy is seeing red. He dismantles to the right, to the left. Bloodbath. The reaction seems so excessive that in the jet 7 of organized crime, it turns into a valve. Style: “The guy is so crazy he drove down half of New York for a car and a puppy”. Chilling.
2. He is forced to become a hitman again…
For little, we believed Johnny Boy saved. At the start of the second installment, he (finally) recovers his cash register, makes peace with a mafioso who was still involved in the now famous “puppy” affair, and has even adopted a new pet. Nice painting. Except that – ding, dong – almost immediately, Santino D’Antonio, a Camorra godfather, bursts at his door to demand that he settle a debt. John refuses. In reaction, the guy pulverizes his home with who knows what – luckily the dog survived. Still, suddenly, John understands that he no longer has much choice. And must resolve to do what he would have liked to avoid: to become a hit man.
… But couldn’t he have kept a low profile?
Let’s say that Wick is indeed forced to fulfill his contract. Good. He goes to Rome, and eliminates Gianna D’Antonio, both sister of the sponsor of this murder and holder of a precious seat at the “High Table” – sort of high council of the dignitaries of the crime. Until then, okay. But then ? Sure, Wick has every right to have it bad when he realizes Santino D’Antonio has assassins hot on his trail, despite having paid off his debt. Still, instead of building up the pressure and causing World War III in Manhattan, he could have just… run away. Santino himself can’t get over it, from our Wick’s determination, and timidly suggests a form “revenge addiction”. We are not far from sharing his opinion…
3. He becomes the number one killer…
It is in a very sorry state that we find Johnny Boy, at the opening of John Wick: Parabellum (3rd part of the franchise). He has a few gashes on his face, hobbles and looks drunk. Really drunk. Let’s understand it: after having sealed Santino D’Antonio, member of the Big Table, he is propelled to the first rank of the assassination contracts with some 14 million dollars on his head. Worse still, because this homicide took place on the grounds of the Continental, a thug establishment where murder is prohibited, he was “excommunicado”. In other words, no more services linked to organized crime are authorized for him. – in short, he is an outcast.
… But he was offered an exit ticket.
After an escapade during which he leaves several mountains of corpses behind, John flies off to Morocco in the hope of finding the traces of the Grand Master of the High Table there. Be the only individual capable of lifting both the bounty and his excommunication with one finger. In exchange for this small service, the said Grand Master demands two things. First, that John continues to work for the High Table until his last breath, second, that he murders Winston – a longtime friend of John’s, who had used his authority as manager of the Continental in New York to save John’s life. Agreed, the perspective is not dreaming beyond measure. But the deal would have put an end to a spiral of brutality whose proportions soon turned daunting. Rather judge:
Technical case. On the one hand one would be tempted to say that John Wick, aka “the man sent to kill the Croquemitaine”aka “the guy who killed 3 guys in a bar with a pen” is frankly socio-psychopathic. Mourning or no mourning, taking the lives of fifty guys in one afternoon to avenge a puppy, it’s crazy. But, on the other hand, the rules that govern the world of the High Table and its armed arms have little to do with those of ordinary mortals.
In this parallel universe, butting is part of the game. The guys congratulate each other on the “beauty” of the fights, put on glasses after beating each other for 20 minutes, and promise to offer each other dignified deaths. In short, homicide does not have the same value as with us. It borders on “cool”. And then, you have to say to yourself that all of this is played out between scoundrels.
So when “John Fucking Wick” (it’s a character from the movies who calls him that, not us, we wouldn’t dare) freaks out because he loses a memory of his wife, then suffers repeated betrayals, well… We have hard to blame him. We even sympathize. After all, all he asked for was spending quiet days having fun with his canine. Grandpa.
Can he lead this sweet life dreamed of shortly, our Johnny? Nothing is less sure. At the end of the third part, when he had chosen to support Winston in his crusade against the Big Table rather than exterminate him, the former director of the Continental turns his jacket around and tries (apparently…) to attempt the days of the one who was supposed to be his “friend”. Result: John is betrayed again. His skin is still priced, and he is still excommunicated. It’s a lot. So when the Bowery King, ruler of underground crime, asks him if he’s angry, of course John replies: “yes”. And let’s be honest, he’s right to be.
See you in March 2023 for the release of the fourth chapter of John Wickwhere we will certainly see our hit man favorite breaking industrial-paced knees. With all our support, then.