JOHN WICK – Character Establishment

John Wick (alternatively known as John Wick: Chapter 1) is a 2014 American neo-noir action thriller film directed by Chad Stahelski and David Leitch and starring Keanu Reeves. The film stars Reeves as John Wick, a retired hit man seeking vengeance for the theft of his vintage car and the killing of his puppy, a gift from his recently deceased wife.

It’s my personal opinion that the way they established the character John Wick is very unusual and eventually, it sets the theme of the film in the viewer’s minds. In this article, i’d like to bring a brief timeline of the character’s establishment.

(Spoilers ahead!)


1. Introduction of a mystery man with no personal details.

      In the very first scene of the film, we could see a car hit a wall and stops. This shows the driver was not in a stable condition.From the car, a man with multiple wounds and bruises came out which justifies the car hitting the wall. The man slowly crawled and settled at a place. He pulled out his mobile and he was seeing a video of him and a woman. This scene revealed nothing except that this man was missing that lady and he was in a deep grief.

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2.Establishing his current situation.

We didn’t know the character name, his details or anything else so far. In the next scene, he was in a graveyard which we can assume that he was in his wife’s funeral by few conversations happening there. In the conversations, the character’s name was revealed as John for the first time. In the following scenes, we could understand John was living a lonely life in a sophisticated house with a dog that came to him as his wife’s present.

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3. Introduction of a conflict to the character.

Till now, we didn’t know anything about John occupation, his past life etc. In the further scenes, he went to a gas station and there, some guy was asking price for his car. He didn’t care much about that. That night, the guy and his gang came to his home. They stole his car and killed his dog. John was getting into a serious depression. This depression became a driving factor for the rest of the story, later on.

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4. Revealing the main character’s details with a contradictory character.

As it turned out that the thief’s father Viggo was John’s client before, Viggo was telling about his experience with John while John was digging the ground to get back his weapons. Viggo (antagonist) was telling about the brutality and the ferocious approach of John Wick (Protagonist) while John is furiously breaking the concrete in his home with great anger. This is where the necessary details of the character was revealed. This is the first time we were shown the anger of John Wick. The two scenes were shown simultaneously with jump cuts which clearly defines the theme, John is getting ready to deliver revenge. This was a beautiful way of revealing the character. While the protagonist is given details by the antagonist, the protagonist is getting ready to justify the details. This part was brilliant. 

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4. Framing an ending with a relevance to the beginning.

After all the revenge that happend , the first scene of the film was shown. But, now we know the reason for his wounds, his presence at that place. Before the film ended, John adopted a dog and he went away. This showed he was ready to get back to the normal life from then.


It’s my personal opinion that the way they established the character JOHN WICK in this film as a serious badass even before he gets into the action is one of the reasons this character became appealing and interesting for the audience.


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