4 Things to Remember Before Seeing John Wick: Chapter 4
A lot has happened since Wick debuted in 2014.
Remember, this all started because some jerk killed his dog.
John Wick: Chapter 4 is finally here, with Keanu Reeves back in the role of his stylish cold-blooded assassin. Reeves reunites with series director Chad Stahelski to deliver what’s arguably one of the finest action movies of the decade, and a satisfying conclusion to John Wick’s agonizing quest for freedom from the High Table, the shadowy governing body of assassins.
While Wick’s story has never been complex, Chapter 4 builds upon three prior movies and feels lightyears away from Wick’s original mission to avenge his dog. So it might help to revisit a few details that may have slipped your mind if you haven’t binged the series recently.
1. John Wick Is Still on the Run
In 2014’s John Wick, Reeves’ ex-contract killer returns to a world he left behind when he seeks vengeance against the spoiled son of a Russian crime lord for killing the beagle gifted to him by his late wife, Helen. The 2017 sequel, John Wick: Chapter 2, drags John back into the game when an Italian crime boss, Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio), cashes in on a formalized “blood oath” that makes John obligated to do a favor.
When John refuses, Santino sets John’s house ablaze, burning all his remaining mementos of Helen.
After fulfilling his oath, John’s problems really begin after he kills Santino in the neutral walls of the Continental, the official hotel of assassins and crime lords. John is deemed “excommunicado,” meaning his life is forfeit. There’s a large bounty on his head for any assassin willing to take a shot at him, and boy, do they try.
Despite his best efforts to get rid of his excommunicado status in 2019’s John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum, John’s status remains at play at the start of John Wick: Chapter 4.
2. John Wick Is Aligned with the Bowery King
The trailers for Chapter 4 remind audiences about this, but it bears repeating here. While John Wick is in trouble, he’s not alone in his war against the High Table.
At the end of Chapter 3, John strikes an alliance with the “Bowery King” (Laurence Fishburne), the literal underground crime lord who oversees the network of assassins operating in New York’s slums. In Chapter 3, the Bowery King — and the New York Continental’s figurehead Winston (Ian McShane) — draw the ire of the High Table for helping John Wick kill Santino in Chapter 2. The High Table’s representatives, The Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon) and the ace assassin Zero (Mark Dacascos), punish the Bowery King with seven cuts from a wakizashi blade.
At the end of Chapter 3, John is shot and left for dead by Winston, who betrays John to restore his own standing. But John is retrieved by the Bowery King, who proposes a partnership to strike back against the High Table. John accepts, and thus begins Chapter 4.
3. John Wick Chopped Off His Ring Finger
In Chapter 3, John Wick’s quest almost comes to an early end when the only person with more authority than the High Table, someone known as The Elder (Saïd Taghmaoui) offers to wipe John Wick’s excommunicado status in exchange for killing Winston and swearing loyalty to the High Table. To make the deal official, John is forced to cut off his left ring finger and give up his wedding ring. It’s a bitter irony that, for John to keep the memory of his beloved wife alive, he’s slowly losing everything that reminds him of her.
John changes his mind at the last minute when Winston warns him that a life of servitude to the High Table is no life at all. “You shoot me, you sell your soul,” he warns John. The climax of Parabellum is a shootout in the Continental, with Winston, John, and Charon (Lance Reddick) exchanging bullets with the High Table’s mercenaries.
In the end, Winston betrays John for the sake of the Continental. Again, this leads to John allying with the Bowery King to take down the High Table.
4. The Unnamed Dog Is Safe... Somewhere
At the end of the first film, a wounded Wick adopts an unnamed pitbull. The handsome pup accompanies John all throughout Chapter 2, but they part ways in Chapter 3, when John is trying to outrun attempts on his life. John pays a cab driver to deliver the dog safely to Charon at the Continental.
While some very important, spoiler-laden events happen in Chapter 4 that may concern anyone invested in the pitbull’s well-being, rest assured that Chapter 4 confirms John’s second pup is in good hands. Well, relatively speaking. We’re talking about someone in John Wick’s world, after all. Is anyone really “good”?
John Wick: Chapter 4 opens in theaters on March 24.