Every ‘John Wick’ Movie, Ranked
It has been nine years since John Wick premiered and broke viewers’ hearts with the death of John Wick (Keanu Reeves)’s puppy, Daisy. The loss of his dog sent the grieving Wick back to his past career as a hitman. While it gave him the opportunity to exact vengeance, it also forced Wick to return to the twisted, nefarious, and highly ritualistic criminal underworld. The first John Wick spurred three more films that see Wick becoming deeply embedded in the underworld, making his freedom from it increasingly unattainable.
The John Wick film series is one of the best action franchises of all time. The films have been highly praised by critics and audiences alike for their thrilling visuals, choreography, and cinematography that elevate each action scene. We’re enthralled by Reeves’ relatable widower and the saga’s criminal underworld, with its hierarchy, guidelines, and traditions. John Wick has effectively established its own world across four films, setting it apart from most action franchises that rehash the same events instead of diving deeper.
All of which makes the John Wick movies fairly difficult to rank. Every single film has been a commercial and critical success, with some films even boasting identical ratings on IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes. However, while all of them are good, some have a noticeable edge over others. Here is every John Wick film, ranked.
1. John Wick: Chapter 4
Usually, once a franchise exceeds three films, concerns are heightened about further films potentially tarnishing the legacy of a strong series. However, John Wick: Chapter 4 proved that the series has kept evolving, growing, and learning over the years. The film follows Wick, the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne), and Winston (Ian McShane) as they join forces to take down the High Table after the organization’s brutal attack on them in the preceding film. This dangerous feat sees Wick fighting some of the greatest assassins and most dangerous crime lords in the world in a bid for his freedom.
In John Wick: Chapter 4, the stakes are higher than ever, and the cast is the best yet as it sees the talents of Reeves, Fishburne, Donnie Yen, Lance Reddick, Bill Skarsgård, and Hiroyuki Sanada—and so many more—collide. The film is truly never boring, with martial arts and bullets coloring nearly every scene. The action sequences are far from typical, each beautifully choreographed and unlike anything viewers have seen before. It has a high-stakes plot, unbelievable stunt work, and a surprisingly emotional and satisfying ending that makes it the strongest chapter yet in the John Wick series.
2. John Wick
John Wick premiered on October 24, 2014, and showed audiences the merit of a solid, well-choreographed, and emotional action flick. The film follows Wick, a recently widowed man who finds some comfort in Daisy, the puppy that his late wife arranged for him to receive to help him cope with her death. When Wick is targeted by members of the Russian mafia who kill Daisy and steal his car, Wick has no choice but to return to his old life as a hitman in pursuit of vengeance.
John Wick is an instant classic that brought Reeves back into the mainstream, revitalized the action genre, and spurred one of the most successful action franchises ever. In addition to yielding an impressive legacy, the first John Wick is one of the strongest films in the series. It arguably has the best storyline and allows viewers to empathize with Wick, despite his brutal methods. The scene where Daisy is killed is one of the most infuriating in cinematic history, and is part of the reason why viewers root for and love Wick so much.
3. John Wick: Chapter 2
John Wick: Chapter 2 premiered on February 10, 2017, and expanded the unique world within the John Wick franchise. Wick, satisfied with his revenge, prepares to retire once more, but soon learns that leaving the criminal underworld isn’t so simple. Unfortunately, he must return to pay the debts that he accrued or face severe consequences.
John Wick: Chapter 2 delves into what the first film only touched on: the distinct nature of the High Table’s criminal underworld. One might assume it is a lawless free-for-all, but it turns out that this underworld is highly governed and regulated. Even criminals must obey rules and honor the code of the Table, with repayment of debts via “markers” being one of the most important, unbreakable rules. John Wick: Chapter 2 gives us the full picture of what Wick is involved in and features significant world-building and more of director Chad Stahelski’s typically well-crafted action sequences. It definitely does what a sequel should do, further expanding and developing the story/world introduced in the first film, but it loses some of the emotion and relatability of its predecessor.
4. John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum premiered on May 17, 2019, and sees Wick face the full wrath of the underworld. The third installment follows Wick after he is excommunicated from the underworld’s most powerful criminal organization, the High Table, for breaking its rules. He immediately finds himself navigating more dangerous territory than ever before as assassins from around the globe close in on Wick from all sides, eager to take out the now-disgraced hitman.
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum further widened the world of John Wick and found new ways to create flawless and enthralling action sequences through choreography, cinematography, and sound editing. Reeves puts everything he has into portraying Wick, and the cast is noticeably more diverse than in the previous films. Ultimately, John Wick 3 is a very good action film and a worthy installment in the franchise. The only downfall is that there isn’t anything that really makes it stand out. It doesn’t feature extraordinary world-building or the best storyline or the highest stakes in the franchise. Mostly what it does is set the stage for John Wick: Chapter 4 to take off, but it doesn’t really do much to set itself apart.
(featured image: Summit Entertainment / Lionsgate)
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