As we turn the pages on Chapter Four (of ?) I remain impressed at how they’ve built a world out of “shooting a lot” with a side of “getting hit by cars.” I shouldn’t be because there’s nothing more American.
The John Wick franchise is the classic “last mission” trope taken to extreme, parodic lengths. He is on an endless quest for revenge, and we eat that shit up because he likes dogs. But he’s miserable, robotic — Keanu Reeves is the ultimate video game character and this is the ultimate gameplay video.
There’s no happy ending nor does he deserve one. There is no way out of our violent system, our violent past, our violent present way of being, by using the same violent means.
John Wick is Spartacus/‘heroic’ because there’s this idea that he’s a rebel who doesn’t play by the arcane aristocratic rules that oppresses us all, but the plot here reinforces the idea that the only way out is to beat them by their game, by their rules.
Even if he succeeds (and to be clear, succeeding involves hundreds of deaths, including his own friends) this may grant Wick some freedom (or the “ultimate freedom” of death), but what about everyone else?
The evidence that this doesn’t work, that this selfish quest doesn’t help the people, is that “The High Table” (hehe) remains in power and that there’s a sequel in development. There’s no way out when more money can be made, and here I am, complicit in watching.
How do we overthrow The High Table? By refusing to sit at it, by refusing to eat their food, play their game, watch their content? I know I’m still playing their game, by their algorithm. I also know we certainly can’t fight it alone.