Film / John Wick

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"People keep asking if I'm back, and I haven't really had an answer. But now, yeah, I'm thinkin' I'm back!"
John Wick

John Wick is a 2014 action thriller movie starring Keanu Reeves as the titular character.

The movie tells the story of John Wick, a retired mafia hitman who is living a secluded life alongside his faithful Canine Companion. One fateful day, Iosef Tarasov (Alfie Allen), young son of mob boss Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist), enamored by Wick's Cool Car, demands a price for it and isn't happy when he's brushed off.

Gathering his mooks, Iosef breaks into Wick's house, steals his car, and most egregiously, kills his puppy before taunting him over the fact. Sadly for him and every single mafia member in the city, that dog was the last gift of John's now-deceased wife, prompting Wick to come out for One Last Job and call in some favors in order to carry out a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.

Comparable to Taken in premise, John Wick is especially notable for its choreography, eschewing quick cuts and shaky cam in favor of long takes and minimal camera movement to showcase some truly spectacular fights and driving sequences that were almost entirely performed by Keanu Reeves. Perhaps not too surprisingly, co-directors David Leitch and Chad Stahelski made their names as stuntmen and stunt coordinators. The film also shows several strong influences from films like The Killer, Le Samouraï, and Point Blank, meaning that the film is rife with brutal moves, badass One-Man Army moments, and Gun Fu that would make John Woo blush.

As part of a cross-promotion deal for the movie, John Wick was added as a playable character in PAYDAY 2. In other words, we're thinkin' he's back. Not to be confused with game designer John Wick. Watch the trailer here.

In 2015, Starbreeze (Overkill's parent company) announced that they would be making a John Wick game as well as providing more John Wick content for the Payday universe.

Has a 2017 sequel, John Wick: Chapter 2.

Chapter Three has been announced for some time in 2019.

John Wick contains examples of:

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    A-F 
  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: The scenes involving John's normal life up until he gets the dog are almost entirely devoid of dialog, and don't have a bit of violence until Iosef breaks into John's house to get at his car.
  • Affably Evil: Several of the criminals in this world are quite likable, such as Marcus, Charlie, Aurelio, Winston and, of course, John Wick. Even resident Big Bad Viggo is quite affable and reasonable (at least before his Villainous Breakdown kicks in).
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Viggo's demise is actually quite dramatic, and even John seems to treat it with some solemnity.
  • All of Them: A variation. Viggo's attempted negotiation with John fails miserably and decides to kill John before he can start his Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
    Viggo: Task your crew.
    Avi: How many?
    Viggo: How many do you have?
  • All There in the Manual:
    • The hotel manager's name is Charon, playing into the symbolism in the movie.
    • If his PAYDAY 2 bio is canon, John used to be in the military (see Word of Saint Paul, below) and is a former boxer. If so, this also becomes a case of Shown Their Work since the shooting stance John utilizes uses the same kind of lower body stance as in boxing.
  • And Your Little Dog, Too!: Turns out this is a bad idea when the dog in question belongs to John Wick.
  • Anyone Can Die: Various named characters including Marcus and Ms. Perkins get killed off.
  • Anti-Hero: John is a good modern example of the classic Anti-Hero.
  • Arc Words: "Let's go home", symbolizing John's return to the criminal underworld.
  • Arc Symbol: Hidden throughout the start of the movie are daisies, which Word of God states is the symbol for Helen. And so when Iosef kills Daisy the dog, he is essentially killing a part of John Wick's wife.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Averted. Iosef the Overlord Jr. doesn't even get to put up a fight, and Viggo may not be a pushover but he's certainly not the toughest foe around when random mooks can give John almost as much trouble.
  • Awakening the Sleeping Giant: While there's no conflict going on, Iosef's killing of John's dog has the same effect and is treated as such by Viggo.
  • Baba Yaga: This is what Viggo calls John when the subtitles say "the boogeyman". John was known as "Baba Yaga" when he was still in the business.
  • Back-Alley Doctor: Averted; the doctor Charon organises for Wick is quite competent, though he has to stitch him up in a hotel room. By the end of the movie however, Wick has to resort to breaking into a veterinarian and stealing medical supplies. Geez, look at all the cute puppy dogs...
  • Bad-Guy Bar: The one in the Continental, as John has to pay the special coin to get in and Winston says that he wouldn't be there if he wasn't back in the business.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: The reason Wick goes after Ioesef in the first place is because the latter killed his dog.
  • Badass Beard:
    • Wick sports a impressive looking beard. Fittingly, the shape of it frames his face in a way resembling a skull.
    • One of the mooks at the Red Circle sports an incredibly impressive one, complete with waxed mustache. It proves to be the man's undoing, though.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit:
    • Wick tearing through hordes of Mooks while dressed impeccably. He starts the film dressed casually while still grieving his wife, but suits up when it's time for action.
    • Almost all of the gangsters are dressed in very stylish suits and hats - particularly Harry with his Waistcoat of Style. The Continental probably comes with its own 24/7 tailor, too...
  • Badass Israeli: Justified aversion. While it isn't outright stated, Viggo's lawyer is named Avi, a stereotypical Israeli name, and speaks with an Israeli accent. He demands to be given a gun during the final showdown but proves to be a complete pushover, stumbling on the way out of Viggo's car and going down rather pathetically in a couple of shots. That said, he's a lawyer (and probably got a busted rib or two when their car crashed and his door took the brunt of it), not that he stood much of a chance anyway.
  • Battle in the Rain: Thunder starts rolling and lightning starts flashing as the film nears the end, and a downpour breaks out when the final confrontation between John and Viggo happens.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Winston and Charon, respectively the owner and receptionist of the Continental. They're so affable and helpful to John that it's easy to forget that the Continental is a hotel for criminals. At least until the ending, where Winston has Perkins executed for breaking the rules of the Continental with four headshots.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: Wick is solemnly getting by after his wife's death when someone decides to seriously mess with him.
  • Big Bad: Viggo Tarasof, mafia chief and father of Iosef, who killed Wick's dog.
  • The Big Rotten Apple: Aside from Wick living in New Jersey, the entire film is set in and around New York City.
  • Bilingual Backfire: During their first meeting, Iosef attempts to disguise an insult to John by speaking in Russian. John responds in Russian, shocking Iosef.
  • Bittersweet Ending: John Wick succeeds at getting revenge and has effectively destroyed one of the most powerful crime syndicates in the city, but his wife and dog are still dead, and his car is still missing. It's made a bit sweeter since he gets a new dog, a pit bull, from the pound.
  • Bizarre Taste in Food: In the scene where Viggo approaches Marcus in his home, we see Marcus making vegetable smoothies, presumably for a diet he's on. Marcus drinks them without blinking, but Viggo can barely even look at the stuff.
  • Black and Grey Morality: John is far from righteous, and he might be overreacting to the death of his dog, but he's a saint compared to some of the people he's hunting.
  • Black Comedy:
  • Blood-Stained Glass Windows: The gunfight in the church where Viggo keeps his largest stash of money and blackmail material.
  • Book Ends: The film begins and ends with John slumped against a wall, watching a video he took of himself and his wife on his phone, as well as finishing on a shot of Wick walking down the same waterfront on which his wife collapsed before falling ill.
  • Boom, Headshot: John doles out an impressive number of headshots in this film, many of which are paired with a Double Tap just to make sure they stay down.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Played with, especially compared to most action-movies. John is frequently shown doing tactical reloads and his ammo efficiency is so high that he rarely takes more than 3 shots to kills someone. But at one point, he's killing so fast that he doesn't have time to reload before engaging another Mook and has to reload mid-fight. Similarly, if he realizes he can't kill someone with minimal gunfire, he'll switch to a different weapon or hand-to-hand combat.
    • The fact that John can only carry a limited number of reloads becomes an issue at the Red Circle.
  • Bulletproof Vest: Played with. The vest stops two rounds, but the force of the bullets knock John down and leave him dazed while trying to fight Kirill. The vest is also useless against slashes from a broken bottle, though that's partly because the bottle missed the vest entirely.
  • Bullying a Dragon:
    • Exactly the reason why Iosef is in trouble.
    • Viggo could have gotten away clean at the end of the film. He sold his son to John, who had his revenge and wouldn't have pursued things further. Instead, he decides to taunt John by killing Marcus and bragging about it. Naturally, John retaliates.
  • Butt-Monkey: Iosef spends the movie getting slapped and beat up by just about everyone. He deserves all of it.
  • Car Fu:
    • During the climax John chases Viggo in his car and even kills Avi with his car, the bad guys also fight John by ramming his car with theirs.
    • Kirill stops John's attack and manages to capture him by ramming an SUV into another car, which hits John.
  • Catch-Phrase: Avi's "English, please" whenever Viggo drops into his native Russian.
  • Chekhov's Skill: John's car skills, first demonstrated early on, come in handy in the finale.
  • Clean Up Crew: Charlie runs one of these. He first gets called in to deal with the corpses of the Faceless Goons trying to attack John at home, and again to deal with Ms. Perkins's body.
  • Cold Sniper: Marcus, played by Willem Dafoe, apparently has a long history with The Mafiya, and his Weapon of Choice is a Sniper Rifle. He can't bring himself to kill John, though.
  • Color Motif:
    • Initially, the move is almost a cool blue monotone, reflecting John's detachment and struggle to cope over his wife's death. As he crosses back into the violence, colors leak back into his world and become more intense. And then at the end of the movie when he crosses back over into the ordinary world, the colors become more subdued but also warm again.
    • At the beginning John wears a brown jacket with a black shirt, the same colors as his beagle's spots. At the end John adopts a pit bull as black as the suit he's wearing.
  • Combat Pragmatist:
    • All the characters and mooks seen in the film will use whatever's at hand to their advantage. John even uses one mook's beard to take the guy down.
    • Where possible John finishes every mook off with a shot to the head even if they might be 'subdued' already.
    • Viggo throws every man he has against John before being forced to fight the man himself.
  • Completely Different Title: In Brazilian lands, the movie's called "Back To The Game".
  • Concealment Equals Cover: Averted when one of the Faceless Goons sent to John's house to kill him tries to shoot him through a wall (while John's waiting on the other side for him to come round), and only misses because of some quick ducking on John's part. Both John and the mook are even shown shielding their faces from the bits of debris that might be kicked toward them.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: The All of Them example above was not nearly enough to stop John Wick.
  • Consummate Professional: John Wick is famed for this, which makes all the more alarming when he tells people "It's Personal".
  • Contract on the Hitman: Viggo puts a two million dollar bounty on John's head, with double that for anyone who dares go against the rules of the Continental to take him out while he's there.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The chances of the bratty son of the head of the Russian mafia running into one of the most dangerous assassins ever at a random gas station in the New York/New Jersey area are very small. Viggo lampshades this, deeming it fate.
  • Cool Car:
    • John's 1969 Boss 429 Mustang is a quite pimpin' ride. So cool, in fact, that Iosef wants it for himself... and isn't willing to take no for an answer. If it is a true Boss 429, it is one of 859 made and would easily sell for over 6 figures.
    • The Dodge Charger which he receives as a compensation from the Continental management is nothing to scoff at either. Pity it gets wrecked in the finale.
  • Could Have Avoided This Plot: It is acknowledged by everyone that none of this would have happened if Iosef had bothered to look up (i.e ask anyone within a thousand miles radius) who John Wick is.
    • Chances are, had Iosef only stolen the car, John might've been mad but possibly could've let it go (or at least gotten it back without any death). But he killed John's dog, the last gift from his deceased wife...
  • Could Say It, But...:
    • The "Code" prevents Winston from telling John about a certain helicopter being fueled at a certain helipad for a certain someone.
    • Blink and you'll miss it, but the free drink Winston gives to John at The Continental comes with "Red Circle" on the napkin.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Iosef and his goons deliver one to John in his home, right before they steal his car and kill his dog. John spends the rest of the film returning the favor.
  • Cycle of Revenge: Iosef wants revenge on John for refusing to sell his car to Iosef, John wants revenge on Iosef for killing John's dog, Viggo wants revenge on John for killing Iosef, and then John wants revenge on Viggo for killing Marcus.
  • Dark Action Girl: Ms. Perkins, a hitwoman sent to confront Wick. Bonus points for being played by Adrianne Palicki, who's quickly making a name for herself as an ass-kicking lady.
  • Defiant to the End:
    • Marcus who chooses to go out on his own terms rather than be tortured to death.
    • Also, one of the villains John kills utters out a "fuck you" while being drowned.
  • The Determinator: When John Wick is committed to something, it's best to just stay out of his way and "leave him to it."
  • The Don: While he's a Russian mobster, Viggo's a classic example: Shrewd, has his own code of conduct, and protective of his family (to an extent).
  • Dirty Coward:
    • Iosef Tarasov, to the max. Typical empty tough guy attitude which falls apart at the first sign of trouble. Particularly in the fight at the Red Circle, where he grabs a nearby girl to shield himself when John has him in his sights.
    • Considering he sells out his own son to save himself and doesn't fight Wick until he's thrown all of his men at him, Viggo also counts.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Depending on how much you love dogs or hate violence, John's actions may be this.
  • Dramatic Irony: One of Iosef's guards is playing a FPS when he gets sniped by John.
  • The Dreaded: Everyone with common sense is utterly terrified of John Wick.
    Viggo:
    • Well John wasn't exactly the boogeyman. He was the one you send to kill the fucking boogeyman.
    • How John's reputation was introduced to the audience:
      Viggo: *back turned, on the phone* I understand you struck my son.
      Aurelio: Ah, yes sir, I did.
      Viggo: And may I ask why?
      Aurelio: Yeah, well he stole John Wick's car and uh... killed his dog.
      Viggo: *turns around, face fallen* ...oh.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: After selling out his son to John, and losing all of his money and leverage, Viggo turns to drugs.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Marcus decides to go out "on his own terms", which means he, after being tortured and maimed, gets up, kills a few guards and is goes down guns blazing against Perkins.
  • Engagement Challenge: A variant. Four years before the start of the film proper, John asked Viggo for permission to retire so he could get married. Viggo gave John an Impossible Task to fill in order to gain said permission. What the task was was never stated, but the power vacuum created by the body count John left behind while completing it turned Viggo into a rising star in the New York underworld.
  • Epic Tracking Shot: The film, unlike many other action films, chooses to film its fights in smooth, easy-to-follow tracking shots instead of the Jitter Cam-laden, over-edited style that's present in most films in the genre.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: After Wick's intentions are made clear, Viggo offers his old buddy Marcus two million dollars to kill him. Subverted, since Marcus ultimately reveals that instead of failing to kill him throughout the movie, he's been helping him stay alive.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The Continental is a haven for murderers, mobsters, assassins, and other professional criminals. But it also has rules, and breaking those rules is a massive taboo within the criminal underworld. The fact that Perkins is willing to break said rules shows how evil she is, even by the standards of the Continental's guests.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: At the end, John and Winston are the only major characters left alive.
  • Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting: A lot of characters of the film have grappling-rich fighting styles. John uses primarily judo, while Perkins indulges in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Viggo shows some sambo as well, and the big bodyguard guy in the club utilizes pro wrestling moves.
  • Evil Costume Switch: John's not exactly evil, but when he comes out of retirement, he goes from light-colored T-shirts and leather jackets to dark suits.
  • Evil Is Petty: The entire situation is triggered by Iosef deciding to kill John's dog, simply because the dog won't stop making noise while he and his goons are looking for John's car keys.
  • Excuse Plot: Subverted and Discussed. Both in and out of universe, slaughtering the entire Russian Mob over the death of a single dog sounds patently ridiculous, but when Viggo tells John this, he gives a lengthy, screaming speech over how it wasn't "just a dog", but the last ounce of hope for a normal life the dog represented, the last bit of his departed wife's memory, the last chance a person like Wick had of actually expressing grief, love, and life. In other words, while it may seem like an Excuse Plot at first, it most definitely isn't.
  • Experienced Protagonist: John is already an incredible badass long before the story starts, which explains why everyone he fights is horrified of him.
  • Expy: John Wick's Ford Mustang is identical color-wise and in appearance to "Eleanor" from Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000). It also ends up being stolen as a major part of the plot.
  • Face Death with Dignity:
    • Marcus goes out smiling, Perkins remains as undisturbed as always when she's gunned down, and Viggo dies philosophising to John.
    • It's harder to tell with Perkins as the camera is rather far back when she is gunned down, but she is clearly frightened when the Continental management she's been so cocky about "revokes her membership."
  • Gratuitous Russian: Really bad pronunciation, mostly. Also, virtually every single longer sentence in Russian gets subtitles that are totally different from the ones spoken.
  • Famous Last Words: Marcus has "See?", referencing his earlier comment that "he would go out on his own terms", while Viggo has a bittersweet "Be seeing you" to John.
  • Faux Affably Evil: While virtually every single criminal barring Iosef is Affably Evil, Ms. Perkins has the superficial charm, but remains no more than a ruthless thug.
  • Foreshadowing: It's set up to look like Marcus is fending off rivals for the bounty, but John never questions where these mysterious shots came from.
  • Formerly Fat: Francis, the doorman at Red Circle, had lost over 60 pounds of weight since the last time John saw him.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • When John's showering, if one pays attention, one can see John has a tattoo on his back saying "Fortis Fortuna Adjuvat". That is Latin for "Fortune Favors the Bold" and the motto of the 3rd Battalion of the Marine Corps, indicating John may have been a former member.
    • There's also the weapon cache he digs up in his basement; one side is various weapons, the other side has gold coins. We don't find out the significance of these coins until later, but twelve of them is enough to arrange "a dinner reservation for twelve" AKA disposing of twelve bodies. And Wick has a case full of them.
    • Cases of the gold coins are show in Viggo's personal safe, where he keeps his big black book of numbers (including John Wick's) and more are shown in the stash that John incinerates. They appear to be the universal currency of the underworld.
  • Friendly Enemy: It's interesting that Viggo and John are actually quite friendly with each other, and neither seems pleased with how things turned out. Noteworthy that both John and Viggo offer one another a chance to be spared, which is quite out of character for both.

    G-L 
  • Give Me a Sword: Avi spends the final action scene demanding to be handed a gun. Viggo eventually hands him one... after taunting with him pulling it away a few times while in full Villainous Breakdown.
  • Guardian Entity: Marcus protects John on a couple of occasions.
  • Gun Fu:
    • Not on the level of The Matrix or Equilibrium, but it does pop up a few times when Wick fights against multiple enemies at once, where he uses judo and jujitsu moves in order to take down enemies preparatory for point-blanking them or otherwise shooting them. This is especially pronounced during the club scene, where he kills his way through a lot of guys at close range, point-blanking them so as not to risk hitting the bystanders surrounding him.
    • Generally speaking the film is a Reconstruction of this trope after it was exhausted by the over-the-top excess John Woo, The Matrix, and their many imitators indulged in. The film grounds its Gun Fu in reality by averting the typical tropes associated with it and has Wick use actual close-quarters gunfighting techniques (see Shown Their Work).
  • Heroes Love Dogs:
    • John may or may not have been a dog lover before the film started, but he quickly became attached to the critter anyway.
    • John shows his love of dogs again at the end of the film by adopting a pit bull from the pound.
  • He's Back: John's thinking he is.
  • Heroic Bloodshed: A bit of this in terms of theme crossed with modern realistic shootouts.
  • Heroic Second Wind: Played with. Rather than taking place during a fight against the Big Bad, it's used for a Bait-and-Switch. John is apparently dying in the opening scene before the movie flashes back to How We Got Here, falling out of his vehicle severely wounded and playing a video recording of his deceased wife on his smartphone. When we get to that scene however, the recording enables John to rally himself enough to treat his injuries.
  • The Hero's Journey: The film follows the classical hero's journey closely, complete with relevant symbolism referring to the various stages.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Hinted at by the apparently genuine warmth several characters display towards John, including not only Marcus but also Winston, Charon, Addy, and Harry. It's implied there is something more to John than a hot-blooded killer, although that's almost all we see of him.
    • His Nice to the Waiter tendencies and attempts to avoid civilian casualties, as well as leave Jimmy out of the situation, suggest that he's actually a pretty friendly guy. Just when he's on the job, he's all business.
    • His interactions with Addy the bartender seem to hint that they were involved at one point or another. She definitely finds him attractive and is happy to see him back.
  • How We Got Here: The film opens with a battered up car crashing into the side of a building. John falls out, bleeding profusely, and lies on the ground watching a video recording of him and his wife together on a beach.
  • I Can Still Fight!: John at the end. He's been beaten, shot and stabbed, thrown off a balcony, hit by a car, hit by another car while in a car, and then stabbed again by Viggo. John's Made of Iron, Viggo can only last as long as he did because of all the accumulated damage John suffered.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • When Viggo has captured John, he doesn't kill him immediately. Instead, he talks and gloats for a bit, then leaves John for his henchmen to torture and kill.
    • Later on, Viggo still doesn't learn. When he's got Marcus, he prefers to torture him and gloat rather than just killing him. Marcus manages to wrestle a gun from his captors and kill two of Viggo's men before Perkins shoots him. He also calls John to gloat, which is bordering on Too Dumb to Live.
    • Viggo's son, Iosef, also qualifies — had he spent less time partying and bothered to learn the history of his crime family, he would have known about John Wick and why leaving him alone would have been a good idea. He manages to jealously hold onto the ball by continuing to insist he's not worried about John even after finding out that his own father is terrified of the man. It's not until he sees John rip through his entire security force at the night club that he actually understands how serious things are.
    • John catches a small one during the club shootout sequence. When John realizes he is out of spare mags for his primary pistol, he grimaces angrily and engages Kirill in hand to hand. Only after being thrown one floor down he remembers that he has a backup gun behind his belt. At least in this case, John was in a drawn-out fistfight and drew the gun when he had a reprieve.
    • And finally for Harry (Clarke Peters), a killer, to not be aware about the thumb dislocation trick to escape handcuffs and to let his guard down around another killer, one who's already proven willing to break the rules of the hotel. It's particularly bad in his case, because he has literally no reason to ever get within arm's reach of Perkins just to scold her about breaking the rules.
  • Implacable Man: Yeah, you know who. And Wick's enemies are well aware of it.
  • Impossible Task: In a discussion between Viggo and his son Iosef, the father talks about why the title character is someone to fear: When Wick wanted out, Viggo set him on what he referred to as an impossible task as a condition for leaving, expecting that Wick would fail. Viggo concludes with saying that the pile of bodies left that day by Wick in the process of completing that task built their criminal empire.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: John Wick makes every bullet count, displaying such precise speed, accuracy and reflexes that he is at times dropping Mooks with headshots one by one. That said, it's also played with in that at longer ranges or when faced with tougher material than a high powered pistol could accurately hit or punch through, he'll switch to something else like a shotgun or rifle.
  • Improvised Weapon: John likes using random things as improvised garrotes. Towels, handcuffs, his own sling, a pencil...
  • I Need a Freaking Drink:
    • Downplayed. Viggo spends a lot of his screentime drinking various kinds of alcohol, although it's not clear whether it's from the stress of knowing his son just pissed off the most dangerous man alive or whether he always drinks like that.
    • Also John after the Red Circle fight.
  • Instant Death Bullet: Averted, though it may not seem to be at first. John almost always goes for a headshot. When he can't, he favors one or two shots to the torso to stumble someone and finishes with a headshot when the opportunity presents itself. Failing that, he'll set up a headshot in another way such as hand-to-hand combat or shooting someone's foot.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • When they first meet, Iosef tells John that "Everything has a price". John tells him right back when he comes to collect.
    • When Aurelio tells Viggo what Iosef has done and to who, Viggo's reaction is a flat "... oh". When Viggo explains to Iosef that John isn't so much the boogeyman as "the guy you send to kill the fuckin' boogeyman", Ioseph has the same reaction.
    • Ms. Perkins to Harry, after she kills him.
    • John kills Ioseph out of redirected grief over his wife's death; later Viggo kills Marcus out of redirected grief over his son's death.
  • It Always Rains at Funerals: The funeral of Wick's wife is in the middle of a heavy rain shower, setting the mood of the scene.
  • It's Personal: Wick really valued his dog, and with good reason.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Literally speaking, the killing of John's dog. The dog crawls up next to John as it's dying, leaving a bloody trail and succumbs before John can wake up.
    • Viggo's insinuation to John that his wife's death was divine punishment for his misdeeds as a hitman.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Winston and some of his Mooks invoke this on Ms. Perkins via four simultaneous headshots as punishment for her Stupid Evil violation of their standards. Given how she just got finished helping Viggo ambush Token Good Teammate Marcus to death, most viewers can't help but cheer Winston and said Mooks on.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: (subtitled) "It was just a FUCKING..." *BANG*
  • Large Ham: Michael Nyqvist is having a fun time as Viggo Tarasov. It really only kicks in after John dismantles his leverage on NYC and he sells his son out to die.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • Pretty much the entire movie is John's retribution against the Tarasovs, particularly Iosef. It's implied that, if Iosef had only beat John up and taken the car, John might've just written it off and left well enough alone. But he just had to kill John's dog...
    • The decision to break the rules of The Continental by Ms. Perkins, attempting to kill John and later murdering Harry while there directly leads to being executed on Winston's orders.
  • Laughing Mad: As part of his Villainous Breakdown, Viggo Tarasov can only laugh when John shows up to chase him down in the climax.
  • Legitimate Businessmen's Social Club: The Continental Hotel is a hotel that caters to, perhaps exclusively, to assassins and criminals.
  • Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: Wick agrees to this when called to by an unarmed Viggo, throwing away his pistol. Unfortunately when it's clear Viggo is getting the worse of it, he draws a switchblade.
  • The Lost Lenore: John's late wife, Helen, is a major source of grief for John.

    M-R 
  • MacGuffin: Ostensibly, John's car, but the real motivation for his revenge is the death of his dog.
  • Made of Iron: Wick, though by the end of the film it's somewhat Dented. He doesn't get hurt often, but when he does it looks very painful. It doesn't stop his onslaught, though. But also played with in that the injuries he does sustain are shown to be similar to the ones that would take out his opponents—a stab wound weakens him and a gunshot to the chest stumbles him. The difference is he doesn't allow his opponents to follow up or they're not professional enough to just go for the kill. Also played with in that early on, we see him being tended to by a doctor who gives him medication to ease the pain. The implication being that throughout the rest of the movie, he's basically holding himself together through sheer grit and drugs. Which means we're not actually seeing him when he's at 100%...
  • The Mafiya: Viggo's organization, although some of his henchmen aren't Russian. In fact, there's a Running Gag about how his second-in-command can't understand Russian, despite everyone around him using it constantly.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: A bunch of ski mask-clad Faceless Goons try to attack John at home after he's gotten his head back into the game, with predictable results.
  • Mauve Shirt:
    • Francis, the doorman at Red Circle. When John introduces himself with the muzzle of his pistol, Francis greets him politely and they chat for a moment. He then proves to be the smartest man in the room by agreeing to John's suggestion that he take the night off.
    • Crossing over with Elite Mook, Kirill is the one person in Viggo's organization to match John blow for blow and survive multiple encounters.
  • Misplaced Accent: Viggo Tarasov speaks with Michael Nyqvist's rather pronounced Swedish accent.
  • The Mob Boss Is Scarier: The crooked Priest briefly comments this to John, saying Viggo will kill him if he opens the vault. Wick's reaction is to ruthlessly gun down a nearby Mook and a skeptical "hm-hm". The Priest promptly opens the vault. Viggo does indeed kill him.
  • Moe Greene Special: At the Red Circle club chase/shootout, John pins one mook beneath him and shoots him in the eye.
  • Mood Whiplash: John brutally kills a dozen hitmen in his house, taking down the last one by repeatedly stabbing him in the throat with his own knife. Then the doorbell rings, and we get a comedic scene with a police officer investigating noise complaints. It seems clear that the police know John was a hitman and don't react at all when they see one of the bodies behind him.
  • Mook Horror Show: The movie quickly descends into this territory, with John Wick cutting down mobsters and hitmen (most of whom are practically helpless against him) with ruthless efficiency. The only advantage his enemies have against him is numbers, which doesn't really help that much.
  • Morality Pet: John's dog, given to him by his dead wife. Iosef's impulsive decision to kill the dog is what triggers the whole series of events.
  • Mugging the Monster: Stealing John Wick's car (and killing his dog) was a terrible idea. What an Idiot indeed... especially for Bullying a Dragon.
    Viggo: It's not what you did, son, that angers me so. It's who you did it to.
  • Murder Simulators: Played with. Iosef has a video game console in his safe house, and one of the guards is playing a First-Person Shooter note  to pass the time while they're in hiding. Notably, Iosef seems a lot less entertained by violent video games when he is being pursued by an actual trained killer.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast:
    • John Wick, in universe. The mere mention of John's name is enough to send most of the criminals in the city into a panic.
    • John is also given the nickname Baba Yaga. The film translates it as the Russian word for boogeyman, but it's also the name of an old witch who eats kids in Russian folklore.
  • Neighborhood Friendly Gangster: John Wick is pretty well-known around town. Everyone who knows him either likes or, at the very least, greatly respects him. He's even friendly to the police officer who visits his house.
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Fist Fight: Played with. During the final fistfight confrontation Viggo pulls out a knife on John and actually manages to stab him in the gut with it. Turns out to be a bad idea when John uses that opportunity to break his arm, grab that knife and fatally stab him with it.
  • Neck Snap: Done semi-realistically with John, using the edge of a table to break a mook's neck when his home is raided.
  • Nice to the Waiter:
    • John, interestingly enough. He's cordially cool to most people, but he's shown to have made acquaintances with people like Addy and Francis, who are a nobody and a Mook respectively. And in the latter case, this means John gives Francis an opportunity to walk away from the fight.
    • Part of what makes John so respected is his professionalism. He doesn't kill indiscriminately and avoids firing into crowds when he knows he won't hit his target. Jimmy, the cop, is only doing his job and is either paid off or knows enough to not get involved, namely because since John is involved it won't evolve beyond whatever business he has. Francis seems to work for the club moreso than Viggo directly, so with that and whatever history they have allows John to give him an out. But if you pull a gun against John, you're just in his way and soon dead.
  • Noble Demon: John himself is a ruthless ex-hitman, but he also takes care to never fire when it would endanger the lives of non-combatants, such as when he fights his way through a nightclub. And when he desires the death of someone who is a non-combatant, he arranges it so that that person gets killed by the hand of another. Lastly, he respects the rules of the Continental even though Management implicitly would have let him kill Ms. Perkins for assaulting him in his room, as she was the one who violated the rules by breaking the truce.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: John Wick asks his acquaintance, Harry, to keep Ms. Perkins locked down until hotel management can deal with her. He accepts and keeps an eye on her, only for her to get loose and shoot him in the head.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Viggo doesn't explain exactly what John did to earn his "retirement," except that their reign over the city was built on the mountain of corpses John left behind him on that one "impossible" assignment.
    • John and Ms. Perkins are implied to have some kind of history, enough that she's willing to break the rules of the Continental to kill him.
  • Not So Different: John and Viggo acknowledge they're both cursed to live through violence, regardless of what they try to do.
  • Not so Fast, Bucko!: Did you really think John would get Iosef the first time around, or that it would be over after John finally gets his man?
  • Not So Stoic: For the most part even in the middle of a fight Wick isn't emotional, but his stoicism has limits, in particular the death of his wife and later the death of the dog she left him.
  • Nursery Rhyme: Viggo hums a Russian nursery rhyme about the Boogeyman stealing away bad children to himself, intercut with John killing a bunch of mooks with the intent of getting revenge on Iosef.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: The Impossible Task Viggo set John to in order to get permission to retire is never described or shown, but the body count left behind by its completion - in a single day - was apparently epic.
  • Oh, Crap!: The film has plenty of Oh, Crap! moments.
    • Iosef brings John's car to a chop shop to get new plates and a fake registration, only for Aurelio, the owner of the shop to go white, punch him in the face and tell him to get out.
    • When Viggo calls later for Aurelio to explain his actions, he only has to explain that Iosef stole John Wick's car and killed his dog to get off the hook.
      Viggo: ...Oh. [hangs up]
    • The highlight is perhaps Viggo's reaction to learning who Iosef stole the car from; Viggo can't decide whether to laugh, cry, or simply beat the ever-loving crap out of his son.
    • Viggo calls John immediately after learning all this. He tries to reason with him and work things out. John says nothing and hangs up. The look on Viggo's face screams This Is Going to Suck.
    • Marcus, when he realizes Viggo has come to punish him.
    • Iosef acts like a real tough guy for the beginning of the film, until he sees John slaughter his way through the Red Circle after him.
    • Iosef, as he watches the dude playing video game get head-shot right in front of him.
    • Iosef, calling Victor only to straight away realize he's actually talking to John Wick. The guy who he stole a car from and killed their dog. Wick's response is merely this.
    John Wick: Victor's dead. (in Russian) Everything's got a price.
  • Ominous Walk: John looks like the the Angel of Death when he is about to kill Iosef, he slowly walks up to him, with emphasis being placed in each of his thundering footsteps, before he shoots Iosef in the face.
  • Once Killed a Man with a Noodle Implement: Viggo claims that John once killed three guys with a pencil.
    Viggo: A fucking pencil.
  • One-Man Army: John Wick shoots through dozens of thugs, and eventually takes down both Iosef and Viggo personally.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: This appears to be the motive of Marcus, but it turns out he really is trying to protect Wick.
  • Only Sane Man:
    • There's actually several, starting with Aurelio who immediately realizes Iosef stole John Wick's car and that there's gonna be hell to pay.
    • The cop Jimmy who calls on John's house after John takes out 12 hitmen. Jimmy remains utterly calm realizing there's a couple of bodies in plain view (John even steps to the side and looks back like "oh yeah, those"), and knows well enough to say nothing about that and politely walks away. Fans regularly identify him as the smartest guy in the movie.
      • In the same vein, John gets the drop on Francis (one of Viggo's mooks that he appears to know personally) and offers him the opportunity to walk away. The man immediately takes it, but not before thanking Wick.
    • Viggo starts off this way, knowing full well just how dangerous John can be, but Viggo's desire to protect his own son overrules it. And then after he betrays Iosef to save his own skin, Viggo goes overboard taking out his revenge on John's friend Marcus.
  • Overlord Jr.: Iosef is Viggo's son but, unfortunately, inherited none of his courage.
  • Painting the Medium: When subtitles are on screen, words that are emphasized in speech are bold and colored in the subtitles.
  • Papa Wolf: Played straight at first, but ultimately subverted. Viggo expends significant resources trying to kill John to spare his son. When it comes down to it, however, he barters away his son's life to spare his own. He does try to get revenge for the death of his son.
  • Playing Nice for Now: Winston makes it clear to John that no "business" (i.e. killings) will take place on the grounds of the Continental Hotel. Ms. Perkins willingly ignores this rule, both in her attack on John and the killing of Harry, and is executed by Winston's men at film's end.
  • Plot Armor:
    • John does fine accurately shooting rather far away running targets or even those that are out of his field of view and partially covered by a staircase; but killing the almost naked Iosef would’ve ended the movie some 60 minutes earlier than needed.
    • If John managed to shoot Viggo when he was right in front of him through a car windshield that would’ve made the ending just boring.
  • Police Are Useless: Played With. A cop sees a dead body on John’s floor and doesn’t even inquire to get a self-defense technicality to report back, but this is justified because the officer obviously knows who and what John is. He even makes a point of moving his gun hand away from his holster as he backs away. This cop knows exactly who he is dealing with, and he is not stupid.
  • The Precious, Precious Car: Played with; John's deceased wife leaves him a beagle because he needs something to love, and "the car doesn't count". Ultimately, however, John's rampage is because Iosef killed the dog; at best, the car was merely icing.
  • Pretentious Latin Motto: "fortis Fortuna adiuvat" (fortune favors the bold) tattooed across John's back. The gold coins used in the assassin underground are stamped "ex unitae vires" (Unity is Strength) and "ens causa sui" (Existing Because of Oneself). They're even dated in Latin (MMI aka 2001).
  • Profane Last Words: Iosef manages to get as far as "It was just a fucking—(car [that I stole] or dog [that I killed while I was stealing the car])!" before John shoots him dead.
  • Professional Killers: A number of characters, not least John himself, are assassins. They have a Code, with stiff penalties for going against it.
  • Protagonist Title: John Wick is such a force of nature that he proves that the movie could not have been titled differently.
  • Rated M for Manly: Multiplied with Rule of Cool for maximum manliness.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Betraying the Continental's rules does not mean you can get away scot free, badass assassin or not. Ms. Perkins doesn't even get a shot off before Winston's men surround and execute her.
    • When cornered by John, Iosef Tarasov goes down as easy as anyone else.
    • Viggo Tarasov quite understandably becomes more violent and suffers a Villainous Breakdown after John dismantles his leverage over NYC, torches his fortune, and makes him sell out his own son.
    • John's tough, but the impact of two bullets to a Bulletproof Vest leaves him off his game enough for Kirill to truly beat him up.
    • The two times John needs outside help are in the hotel and after being tied to a chair, both times occurring after he had been asleep or knocked out. John might be a one man army, but even he is vulnerable if he's unconscious.
    • John has to reload frequently and often in the middle of a fight. When he runs out of his primary ammo he tries to attack Kirill hand-to-hand when he gets close to conserve ammo. When it fails he switches to an emergency gun to finish it.
    • One bullet isn't enough to kill anyone if it is put anywhere other than the head. So when John wants someone dead, he makes sure to place a second one in the head.
  • Replacement Goldfish: John gets a new dog at the end of the film.
  • Retired Badass: John Wick, at first. Long enough that if you compare his first shootout with his last, he's actually notably slower, less sneaky, less deadly, and less accurate earlier in the movie. Not that it helps his opponents, as he's still incredibly skilled.
  • Retired Monster: John has shades of this. From what we're told of his past, he is responsible for several bloodbaths when he worked for the Russian Mob.
  • Retired Outlaw: Former hitman John Wick retired from the business to live quietly with the love of his life. Sadly, she then succumbs to a fatal disease, and then Iosef just has to show up and kill John's dog, who oh by the way was pretty much the only link he had left to her.
  • Revenge by Proxy: Viggo kills Marcus to get back at John for killing his son, though part of it is because Marcus took the job and instead helped John throughout his journey.
  • Riches to Rags: The film opens with Viggo securing a deal that puts him at the top of the NYC crime world. By the end of the film he's lost a lot of henchmen, money, and all of his leverage over others. By the time John kills him, it's almost a mercy.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: A big part of what makes the death of John's dog so tragic is that she's almost impossibly adorable. It's even more tragic in that the dog crawled next to John while he was unconscious and died next to him before he could wake up.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The whole movie is John Wick exacting vengeance for the death of his dog, Daisy. By proxy, also his wife in that cancer is not something he can shoot and kill and helplessness is not something he's all that familiar with. In killing Daisy, Iosef replaced the dog as something John could handle and direct his attention towards in order to express his grief. Too bad Iosef isn't nearly as adorable as Daisy was.
  • Rule of Cool: The culture of the criminal underworld. Not only how John behaves himself towards allies and old friends, but best represented by The Continental. The way that organization handles itself and abides by its own code of honor swiftly found a devoted fanbase.
  • Rule of Symbolism:
    • The hotel manager is named Charon and John pays him a gold coin before fully embarking on his rampage. In Greek mythology, Charon was the boatkeeper that took dead people across the river Styx into the underworld and had to be paid with a coin.
    • Addy even asks John how "life on the other side" was. A simple question, but with the film's symbolism, a double meaning implying that the only real life is outside of crime.
    • Compared to many action movies where the sound track usually is the loudest thing in a scene, in John Wick, the music is almost tranquil and subdued while the loudest thing is John's gunshots or something similar (thunder as John chases down the final villain). This highlights both his Tranquil Fury but it also highlights how that violence - and specifically his guns - are his way of expression his emotions of grief and anger. His gunshots are substitutes for crying and yelling. The one scene where he seems to lose his cool is the one scene where he is otherwise helpless and doesn't have a weapon on him.
    • The suit he wears during the movie? Same suit he wore to his wife's funeral.
    • There's also symbolism with the colors in the movie. Notice how the second film's poster is red.
  • Running Gag: Viggo speaking Russian, and Avi asking him to speak English.

    S-Z 
  • Sacred Hospitality: Violence is strictly forbidden within the Continental Hotel. Anybody who violates this rule will be punished severely.
  • Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: One of the posters for the movie shows the title character pointing a pistol at the viewer, with the opening of the barrel replacing the "o" in "John".
  • See You in Hell: Implied; Wick and Viggo say "Be seeing you" after seriously wounding each other.
  • Self-Made Man: If Word of Saint Paul is to be believed, Viggo carved his criminal empire out of nothing. The implication is still present in the movie, where Viggo seems to be a lot more aware of the reality of the criminal world than his son, Iosef, who didn't grow up facing the same difficulties.
  • Show, Don't Tell: The way the Continental's currency system works is shown during the clean-up scene at John's house with no exposition whatsoever. The use or acknowledgement of a gold coin easily shows that a person is part of the criminal world.
  • Shown Their Work: The distinctive and fluid shooting style that John uses throughout the movie is an actual system called Center Axis Relock (C.A.R.). It is specifically referred to as a gunfighting system, not target shooting.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Winston has about ten minutes of screentime in the entire movie, but to quote his actor, "If John and Viggo are the gods of New York, Winston is the Titan."
  • Soundtrack Dissonance:
    • Sort of. John is quiet and tranquil. While there are loud music choices, notably, there are certain sounds that are unusually loud such as the sound of John's guns which tend to be even louder than the background music. A reflection of his inner rage and grief that he himself can not actually express.
    • Similarly, the lyrics that play over certain key scenes often hint or highlight the actions therein. For example, when Viggo first offers Marcus the contract on John, the lyrics that are playing speak of hunting and killing strangers and enemies while not killing/not being able to kill the ones you love - hinting and foreshadowing that Marcus won't betray John.
    • Played with during the club shootout: When John is on the bathhouse itself, the music is relatively soft and not very aggressive, and utterly at odds with the knife fighting and gunfire, which reflects how off-kilter John's emotional state is, to the point where he hesitates to kill Iosef and he's having trouble against individual mooks. However, as John continues chasing Iosef through the club, the music becomes more aggressive and in time with his actions, showing John becoming more focused and efficiently dispatching the guards and trying to kill Iosef.
  • Source Music: The music in the Red Circle shootout is the actual music being played in the club, changing as the scene changes location and going silent for the shots outside the club of Iosef escaping. This causes some Soundtrack Dissonance in the bathhouse at start, with the serene, ethereal "Think" playing over the violence.
  • Special Person, Normal Name: "John Wick" is fairly mundane as far as badass hitmen names go. That said, it's also crosses over into a Visual Pun or Rule of Symbolism - he dresses in dark colors, tends to fight in the dark or in thematically dark places, yet the muzzle flashes of his gun are extremely prominent much like the wick of a candle. Alternatively, the wick of a candle could be analogous to the fuse of a stick of dynamite.
  • Spoiled Brat: Iosef Tarasov, who insults, threatens, boasts and complains throughout the whole movie.
  • Stab the Scorpion: Marcus looks poised to kill an unsuspecting Wick, but instead shoots just off to the side to alert John to an assassin in the room.
  • Stealth Parody: Of The Dreaded and One-Man Army. The film has a very dry and subtle sense of humour about John's reputation and the bodies he leaves behind him.
  • The Syndicate: The Continental, which seems to have ties to the system of payments and debts the criminals use.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill:
    • For breaking the rules of the Continental, Perkins is shot in the head by four different people simultaneously.
    • Marcus is shot twice by Perkins, twice by Viggo, then 3 or more times by Viggo after he's already dead.
    • When John wants someone dead, he doesn't do it by half measures. Any given mook is going to be shot at least three times if he doesn't immediately go for the head: twice in the chest and once in the head for good measure. Honorable mention to the Mook that John puts an assault-rifle burst into at point-blank range, and then delivers a second burst to the head. Justified since John is a professional killer: you don't earn a reputation like his unless you Make Sure He's Dead.
  • They Just Dont Get It: Iosef has a hard time grasping the fact that he's just pissed off Death incarnate, repeatedly brushes off his father's warnings, and at one point even says that he'll go back and kill Wick himself. It takes a club full of mooks getting systematically slaughtered right in front of him before he starts to grasp just how screwed he is.
  • Thicker Than Water: Iosef may be a no-good layabout but he still is Viggo's son, which is why the latter can't just let John go kill him.
  • This is for Emphasis, Bitch!:
    • How Iosef first tries to intimidate John.
    • John immediately returns the favor. Iosef is taken aback (in part because his intimidation effort was in Russian and, presumably, he did not expect John to understand it.
  • Tired of Running: Viggo spends the entire movie fleeing Wick's wrath, but by the end, his Villainous Breakdown reaches the point he just stops running and charges head on against John.
  • Title Drop: One of the first times John's full name is said is treated like this, as Viggo explains to Iosef just whose car he stole and whose dog he killed. Viggo giving John's backstory is then intercut with John digging up a stash of weapons.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Helen's bracelet, and not long after that, Daisy's collar.
  • Truce Zone: Do not break the rules of the Continental. Ms. Perkins did and pays for it later on, with the added bonus that they indirectly sold out Viggo for hiring her.
  • Undying Loyalty: Marcus to John. Unfortunately, his loyalty is a bit more undying than he is. Also John himself to an extent, both to people he forms attachments to and from the people who know him best.
  • Unflinching Walk: John, after blowing up Viggo's private stash.
  • Unusual Euphemism:
    • John tells a sympathetic cop looking at the bodies in his home that he's "working through some issues right now."
    • The Cleanup Crew is a "dinner reservation".
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: After John takes out a goon squad in his house, Jimmy, a police officer, comes over to check out the "noise disturbance." Jimmy is familiar with John's reputation, and doesn't even blink at the dozen or so bodies in the house.
    Jimmy: You working again?
    John Wick: No, I'm just working through some issues right now.
  • Uriah Gambit: As Viggo explains to Iosef, John used to work with the Mafiya when one day he asked to leave. Viggo granted that request on the condition that he performed a job considered impossible. Of course, John Wick being John Fucking Wick, he succeeded.
  • Villain World: The fictionalized version of New York in the film is filled with professional killers who operate virtually in public, have a similar villain's code/culture to the pirates in the Pirates of the Caribbean films, and are left alone by the law, who intentionally and probably sensibly turn a blind eye.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Viggo, by the end. To elaborate, he lost almost all of his money, all of his leverage and power in New York, was forced to sell out his son, and was turning to drugs to drown his sorrows. That he's Laughing Mad and willing to antagonize John more are quite understandable.
  • Waif-Fu: Perkins fights with a lot of grapples and holds. Mind you, there's a reason for this, in that John is much stronger and taller than she is, so she favors grapples to eliminate the size difference.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: After everything, John never gets his car back. The sequel changes that.
  • World Building: This film depicts a society of elite hitmen who are almost completely separate from everyone else. They even have a separate economy based on gold coins (one of which is worth thousands of dollars) as a way of proving to each other that they have the skill, reputation, and wealth necessary to run in those circles.
  • World of Badass:
    • Everyone in the movie who isn't a Mook is some level of badass. Even the concierge at the Continental is unfazed by John's level of violence.
    • Even the Mooks show varying level of competency to the point a few minor one-on-one engagements almost got John killed and they're shown using effective techniques in real life as well as understanding realistic mechanics.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Played with. Wick has no problem giving Ms. Perkins a beating in self-defense, but he seems reluctant to kill her unless absolutely necessary. He would have been perfectly justified in doing so, and is even given implicit pass for the Truce Zone when Charon asks if he needs a "dinner reservation". He instead gets her to sell out Viggo in exchange for her life. He also spares a pair of women managing Viggo's money stash, though they were technically noncombatants.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: John takes down one of the mooks in the pool with a Kido clutch, and later performs a rolling fireman's carry slam on Viggo.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/JohnWick