Saturday, October 25, 2014

Specialized Waste Disposal: John Wick

This post is full of spoilers; you have been warned. If you're wondering what cool song is playing in the background of this trailer, it's The Sonics, Have Love, Will Travel. If you are wondering what John Wick's back tattoo means, Fortis Fortuna Adiuvat, the trend has been to translate it as, "Fortune favors the bold," or brave, however, a better translation can be found here in my post for John Wick Chapter 2: Ex communicado). UPDATE: Many thanks to Allen Tucker via Twitter who generously provided this excellent detail, that, "The gate man at the airport is reading Shibumi by Trevanian ." So, what can we make of John Wick? A great deal. Not only does the film have a heavy body count, but a heavy symbol count as well, with the simplest aspects of character and action invested with a ton of meaning, exactly the kind of narrative I love; something else I love? "Self-awareness" in art, when a work of art knows it's a work of art and knows there are people watching it.
What do I mean by that?
Without a doubt, John Wick is a formula film: a reformed criminal gets sucked back in for one more job, one more heist, and he's just as good today as when he left, and he's still the best. There might be aspects of this genre that I am missing, being female, however, I think we can make at least a one generalization: there's an element of immortality for masculinity. There is an element of immortality, not only because of the reputation that male hero has earned in this position that all his associates hold up as a standard, but throughout the events and inevitable violence of the narrative, the hero also doesn't die (you can put in nearly any male hero into this category: Arnold, Bruce Willis, Eastwood, Van Damme, Stallone, etc.). This is the weird element of the genre that, the more death there is, the more immortal the hero seems, and, therefore, the audience identifying with the hero. A central theme in these films, is can a person change? Until the band of baddies show up at John's house to steal the car and beat him up, we had no reason to believe that John was going back to "that life." That's not the question the film poses: there are moments when the "conflict" of the stolen car could be resolved in a civilized manner; John doesn't choose those options, so does that make him violent? No, it makes him self-sufficient because he is still enough of a man  to carry out justice himself.  I know this is controversial, and the controversy of it somewhat proves my point: art is a metaphor to say those things we can't say in everyday conversation (either because we don't know to say them, don't know how to say them or are not allowed to say them), so a guy "sorting out some personal issues" on his own is a guy who can take care of himself and what he values. The social contract by which we abide is nice and all, but as liberals insist men--especially the white heterosexual man--becomes less and less of a man and more like a woman, there are going to be revolts against this social change and John Wick is one of them: he doesn't need anyone or anything to carry out justice, he is completely capable of that on his own (the rest of the review will be exploring the facets of this). Now, what about the poster itself? The color scheme, green and blue and purple, is used throughout the film and suggests a kaleidoscope of hope, suffering and depression.  If you'll notice, the words JOHN WICK are slightly skewed, the bottom and top being disjointed. That's one way of looking at it, not everything "lining up," like Wick and Helen not spending long lives together being in love in spite of the sacrifices he made to have that happen. His name, one of the most personal and intimate expressions of our individual identities, is what is skewed (and accented with the barrel of a gun, suggesting it's "just a part of him") but it's the gun that seems to be the focal point "straightening out" the rest that has gotten messed up.
For example, when the main villain of the film speaks in Russian, assuming John Wick (Keanu Reeves) won't understand him, and Wick responds back in Russian, that "other language" becomes a metaphor for the film itself: the English language we understand. The character Avi--played by Dean Winters from the All State "Mayhem" commercials you will recognize--keeps asking his boss to say it "In English, please?" because there is always the surface language of a film (plot, action, narrative) but then there is the sub-text, the "other language" in the film (metaphor, simile, symbols) and John Wick wants you to be alert to it so you can enter in and engage with the film's meaning and purpose. There is also the text "written on the body" of John Wick in his tattoo that becomes a commentary on the film: Fortune favors the bold, not the weak and domesticated male in Iosef (Alfie Allen) who ends up dead in spite of all the men who die trying to protect him from Wick.
But there's still more.
It's been raining for days, and it appears that Helen has been buried in the same cemetery we see Gwen (Emma Stone) buried in for The Amazing Spider Man II. Even as Helen is buried, there will be a part of Wick that becomes "unburied," and this theme of resurrection is one we have seen in Iron Man 3 (with Pepper having fallen to the fiery pit then coming back again), Skyfall (with Bond falling off the bridge but surviving) and Star Trek Into Darkness with Kirk dying from radiation poisoning but being brought back with Kahn's blood. It's not, however, the resurrection of John Wick the Bogeyman that is the "resurrection" theme of the film, rather, the John Wick who, at the end of the film, can walk away with a new dog and chooses life, even without Helen. 
There's the "code" that Winston (Ian McShane) mentions that they live by, as well as the unspoken rules of his hotel, The Continental (which got a face-lift--read, it has a new surface that is hiding something beneath, like the room waaaaayyyy in the back that Wick goes to in order to speak to Winston); there is the "double-talk" Marcus (William Dafoe) uses when he agrees to take the contract to kill Wick without intending to kill Wick at all. There's the code phrase, "Dinner reservation," which means removal of a dead body and incriminating evidence; there are the mysterious gold coins used as currency, rather than cash; there's the Church in Little Russia that hides the head-mobster's vault. Why enumerate all this? Each one is an example of literary devices, propelling the film from mere entertainment to a work of art intent on making a statement; the more of the tools of the trade we can recognize at work, the clearer the film's statement becomes.
What is that statement?
Before she dies, Helen has made arrangements that, on the day of her funeral, this tri-color beagle puppy should be delivered to Wick, along with a final card of her encouraging words to him. The card has a white daisy on it, the collar has a daisy on it, the dog's name is daisy and, for their anniversary, Wick had given Helen a gold, daisy bracelet. The gold of the bracelet contrasts with the gold coins used throughout the film (discussed below) but "daisy" plays into New Jersey being the Garden State on Wick's Mustang license plate. What does the daisy symbolize and mean? The Bellis perennis, the common lawn daisy, in Latin means "pretty" and "everlasting," and we know from the name of his wife (Helen, as in Helen of Troy) and what Wick says, that he thinks Helen is beautiful, but also that his appreciation of her beauty and the beauty of their love and friendship will be everlasting. It's important that it's a dog Helen gives because this symbolizes Wick's animal appetite for love: when we see Wick looking at Helen's unused coffee mug, her sink at the vanity in the bathroom, the absence of her in his life now, that is part of our immature, appetite for love that we all experience: I want someone to love and someone to love me because of all the wonderful happiness it will mean. That's not sufficient, however, and in signing the card, "Your Friend, Helen" instead of "the love of your life", or "your loving wife," she signs it friend because, in the events of the plot that follows, Wick releases all the friends that he still has: Marcus, Winston, Aurelio (the car guy), Francis the doorman who lost all that weight, the girl at the bar who fixed Wick "the usual," Charon at The Continental, Harry, and realizing that he has friends still, not only helps Wick get past the animal appetite of love, the immature phase, but to appreciate friendship as an absolute value in his life, which is why he avenges Marcus' death (more on that below). So, the daisy symbolizes a love that goes from being transitory, like a spring time flower, to a friendship that is everlasting.
There is a political message to John Wick, but let's take a moment to appraise the psychoanalysis provided by the events. The events at the beginning of the film unfold pretty much like the opening of the trailer: Wick's wife dies, there is the funeral, the puppy is delivered, he gets to know the dog for a day, Ioseph offers to by the car, Wick refuses, they show up that night and beat up John, kill the dog (because it's wimpering), put a bat through his dead wife's SUV and bust out all the windows. Now, when the guys show up, it's night, and Daisy (the dog) wakes Wick up from sleeping; Wick goes into the dark living room and sees the guys wearing hoods and, from behind, he gets hit with a metal bar. What is there about this that is psychoanalytic?
I don't know that there is a formal symbol for a man's tie, but it's an important part of his wardrobe--women generally don't wear ties, neither do children (generally)--so it's a sign of both masculinity (a phallic symbol) and being of the professional class (please see the very last poster of Wick at the end of the page); likewise, I don't think there is really a symbol for a man's scarf worn around the neck like a tie, but inside the shirt, as we see with Winston (Ian McShane) above. The scarf is generally worn by more upper-class men but, most importantly from my perspective, is what it hides rather than reveals. Now, "men hiding things" is an established theme in the film: for example, until he's in the shower, we don't know that Wick has all those tattoos; until he's breaking the cement floor with the sledge hammer, we don't know that he has all those weapons hidden. Marcus hides his true intentions from Viggo when Viggo asks Marcus to kill Wick for him; Ioseph hides his face from Wick when he's stealing the car (then reveals it when he pulls his mask down); towards the end, Viggo tells Wick he wants to fight him man-to-man, but then pulls out a knife he was hiding. Winston isn't above hiding, either (like luring Ms. Perkins to the meeting place of her death) but I think the formal wear of the scarf around his neck is interesting. Even though Winston is a part of this seedy world, somehow, he's also above it, warning Wick that, if he dips so much as a pinky in, there will be something to drag him back in (so in this facet, Winston is a prophet). Being the owner of The Continental, with the manager at the front desk being called Charon (more on this below) means that Winston is like a Hades figure, especially when he executes justice on Perkins for breaking the rules of the hotel.
ANY TIME a character has been sleeping, in a coma, experiences death or has a dream/memory sequence, this state is an invitation to explore the workings of the mind. Three times (I think) we see Wick waking up in his bed in the morning, but at the very opening of the film, Wick was dying, the black SUV he was in crashing against a concrete retaining wall, and him rolling out of the car, bleeding profusely, watching a video of him and Helen on the beach, then "falling asleep" then we return to this sequence at the end and watch it play out in its entirety. My suggestion is, that the day after Wick buries his wife, sees Marcus and receives the dog, and the night of Ioseph asking him how much he would sell his car for, Wick slips into a dream sequence that night of Ioseph breaking into the house and from that point on to the very end, Wick is dreaming. What, if anything, substantiates this interpretation?
It's "just" a car, it's "just" a dog, people keep saying throughout the film, so how does the dead body count justify Wick loosing his car and dog? If you listen carefully to what Wick says in this exchange is "She's not for sale," attributing a personal pronoun to the car (I know other languages habitually do this, however, objects in English do not have a feminine or masculine attribute). It's not so much that Wick puts his car on the same level as his wife Helen, but that the car means as much to him Helen (again, this supports the interpretation of the dog Daisy as being part of the immature understanding of what love is, and Daisy is a part of this conversation). The car just disappears in the storyline: Ioseph doesn't ride the car around anymore, it's not returned to Wick, he doesn't recover it in anyway; Winston does give Wick a new car towards the end, which acts as a reward for how far Wick has come in his understanding what friendship and real love is about. That car getting totaled signals that Wick hasn't learned everything he's supposed to learn during this lesson, even though he's making progress. 
According to Viggo, Ioseph's father and the Big Boss of the Russian mafia, as well as Wick's former boss when he was a hitman, it was because of Wick that Viggo and his family had built themselves up so successfully. If Wick had only been out of the business four or five years, wouldn't he know the only son of his boss? Wouldn't Ioseph at least recognize Wick, or the name of John Wick when he's told that at the auto house he takes the car to after stealing it? The way the mind forms dreams, according to Freud in The Interpretation of Dreams, is the mind gathers and collects bits of reality from the last two-three days of a person's interactions with the world, then re-arranges them to express the deepest levels of unconsciousness to the person so, this is what I am suggesting happens to John Wick (this doesn't mean it's the only interpretation possible, but that there is a strong framework for this interpretation).  What point of the narrative does this solve?
Viggo disciplines his son for taking Wick's car, but not sufficiently. The knife we see Viggo use on his son Ioseph in this scene will be brought out again in his last fight scene with Wick. To Viggo's credit, he understands the crime his son has committed against Wick--even though he becomes overwhelmed by it towards the end--but Viggo sacrificing Ioseph to save himself is why Viggo won't survive the show; you can argue that, had the film ended after Wick kills Ioseph, Viggo would have lived, but that's not accurate. Marcus lied to Viggo, this is true, but had Viggo not felt so guilty for handing his son over to Wick to be killed, instead of letting Wick kill him, Viggo wouldn't have wanting to taste revenge against Wick and so Marcus might have lived. That Viggo uses the same knife on both Ioseph and Wick illustrates the necessary comparison between these two scenes. 
There is no indication that Ioseph and the other guys with him will break into his house to steal his car, neither is there any indication that Wick is going to return to his hitman life. If John Wick is such a badass, why isn't he better able to defend himself when the bad guys break into his house? Having heard Ioseph speaking Russian during the day would have been enough to trigger those long-buried memories of Wick's former life and, after going to sleep that night, his mind easily could have woven a narrative like the one we see on the screen to explain to himself what he was going to do now that he didn't have the reason why he left that life to begin with. Even though Wick tells Viggo towards the end, "People keep asking me if I'm back and I'm thinking, yea, I'm back," Wick walking off with the gray Pit Bull (?) at the end, into the darkness, is the indication that he's done and, as Helen says in the video playing on his phone, "Let's go home, John," you know Wick's going home. Walking into the darkness is the psychoanalytic John Wick of the dream retreating back into the darkness of his subconscious, and him choosing the dog is the affirmation that he would rather stay with the life of a normal civilian, even without Helen, then go back to being "The Bogeyman," which leads us to another point.
Usually a "cleansing scene" takes place after all the blood has been spilled but, in cleansing himself of the blood beforehand, John Wick is making the statement that their blood is not on his hands because they have brought down the wrath on themselves and they are getting what they deserve. Please note the Cross on Wick's arm, that is important for later in the discussion as well as the hands held in prayer (after the Albrecht Durer drawing). One aspect of  the 1969 Mustang is the license tag: New Jersey, Garden State. We get shots of the license plate several times, and it's a viable point to question, "Why would we need to know that John Wick lives in the Garden State?" The soul is often compared to a garden, where either the flowers of virtue grow, or the weeds of sin flourish. Because of the tattoos on Wick's back, and the plate on his car, we know there is more to John Wick than just what we see "on the surface." (This is an imperative scene, and since John Wick Chapter 2 has come out, I have significantly revised this interpretation based on a new translation of the Latin tattoo at across Wick's shoulders which you can read here: Ex Communicado, Or, Reflections On the Soul John Wick Chapter 2).
Wick gets the nickname of "The Bogeyman" from Viggo, when he explains to Ioseph whose car Ioseph has stolen: Wick wasn't the Bogeyman, Wick was the guy you sent to kill the Bogeyman. This nickname (and this is always true in art) introduces an "alter ego" for John Wick into the plot and it's this alter ego that is the "John Wick" of the dream, not the suburban husband of a sweet woman who liked daisies and died after a long illness. There is one more imperative aspect that must be addressed, however, for this interpretation to work.
Why does Wick go out on the plane runway and drive his Mustang so recklessly, and come so close to hitting those dump trucks? It verifies that, in spite of feeling out of control of his life, Wick is still in (some) control, and if we entertain the possibility of the dream sequence of the rest of the film, this verifies it, because a dream is the best way for us to experience being out of control regarding the events taking place in the dream and yet, because we are in control of when we wake up, we are still in control of the dream. Just as the Mustang is Wick's "vehicle" for getting around, the dream then becomes the "vehicle" of the film in getting through the plot and narrative.
Freud postulates, "All dreams are a fulfillment of a wish." Does Wick want his car stolen? Does he want his dog killed? Does he want to kill dozens of people? Does he want Marcus killed? No, to all these. Want John Wick does want, however, is revenge, and a way to release his anger and, most importantly, a way to resolve his loss and feel like he's in control over his life again. This makes Viggo a "god-figure" in Wick's "dream" (the plot sequence); what is it that verifies this? The church in Little Russia being used as a front for Viggo's vault (Viggo, as owner of the Church, becomes a "god-figure" because the Church is set-up to work for him, not for God Himself) and that makes his son, Ioseph, a Christ-figure. In the violence that Wick deals out to both Viggo and Ioseph, does that make John Wick an anti-Christian film?
No, just the opposite.
In addition to Viggo having the church in Little Russia as a front for his vault, in this scene, when Wick has been captured by Viggo's men and Viggo talks to John (Viggo's back is to us, he faces Wick) Viggo tells Wick that God took Wick's wife away from Wick as justice for Wick's crimes, and that both of them are cursed men for what they have done. That's a pretty bold statement for Viggo to make because it testifies that Viggo believes in God, even though he has mocked the Church and Priesthood by using them for his own corrupt ends. We could say that John Wick is an example of Matthew 21: 28-32 and the parable of the two sons: a father asks one son to go work in his vineyard, and the first son says no, but later goes and does the work; the father asks the second son to go and work in the vineyard and that son says yes, but never goes to do the work; which son has done the father's will? Wick is upset with losing Helen, and experiences a complete crisis, but that "dark night of the soul" is something we are all going to go through, and it's meant to break us, so He can make us stronger when He puts us back together. At the end of the film, you know Wick is back on the right path. Please remember, as noted above, Wick has a tattoo of a Cross on his shoulder and the Praying Hands on his back (and there was a priest officiating at Helen's funeral) so, even if he is not a practicing Christian, he has a chamber of faith somewhere in his heart. This scene is interesting because it suggests Viggo intends this to be the place where Wick dies (he gives the order for Wick to be killed): there is a cement mixer and the place is under construction with scaffolding and tarps. Then again, these construction tools are probably literary devices indicating that this scene is meant to "build up" and finish the construction of the narrative, specifically, putting in place Marcus and his "illegal" helping of Wick and Viggo's revenge against him.
We have all been mad at God for things that have happened to us in our life, we have all had deep feelings of suffering and grief, of feeling lost and abandoned. Wick, having been a violent man, plays out what he knows in his unconscious mind (uncensored mind) but Viggo and Ioseph are just "figures," scapegoats who are conveniently incorporated by Wick's mind to bear the guilt and responsibility for what has happened to him. At the end of the film, John Wick chooses life, he chooses to go on living in spite of what has happened to him, and that indicates that, after the natural turmoil of Wick's emotions have played out, he has gotten through and re-affirms his relationship to God, again, in spite of what has happened to him. So, moving onto the more political interpretations.
There are several interesting symbols regarding Marcus. When Viggo comes to ask Marcus to kill Wick, Viggo sits and Marcus stands, the opposite of the scene when Viggo is ready to kill Marcus. Marcus wears a robe in this scene, suggesting he has just gotten out of bed (which can be used as a symbol of a coffin, the bed being temporary "sleep" but the coffin being the bed of "everlasting sleep") so by the robe Marcus wears, we could guess that he's a "dead man walking." After Viggo leaves, Marcus goes to a secret door under his stairs and pulls out his weapon cache. The stairs, and rich decor of the house, suggests that Marcus' weapons (and ability to use them) has been the foundation of his wealth and "climb" of social status (the staircase) so much so, that Viggo thinks Marcus is the only one really capable of taking out Wick, which is why Viggo comes to Marcus to begin with. After Marcus pulls out his weapons, he lays them on top of the piano to put them together, because, just as the piano is an instrument of skill, for Marcus, his gun is an instrument for his skill. It's important to establish this so we know, when Marcus watches Wick through the scope of his rifle in the hotel room, and Marcus hits the pillow instead of Wick, we know it's not from a lacking of skills on Marcus' part, but intent to just fire a warning shot to protect Wick.
When Ioseph sees Wick's car at the gas station, he asks Wick if it's a 1970? "'69," Wick cooly replies. Why is this important? 1970 was a pretty good year for the Soviet Union (Ioseph is Russian): they were still manning space missions, unions and communists in the US were causing havoc, and the USSR completed the Aswan High Dam. In recognizing the beauty and "muscle" of Wick's Mustang, Ioseph wants the car to reflect the glories of the Russian past; Wick's retort, "'69," however, confirms that the Mustang reflects the glories of the American past: in 1969, America won the Space Race with the USSR, which has also been alluded to in Men In Black 3 (and this is the year of the Charles Manson murders, which was alluded to in Annabelle). In Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (Chris Pine, Kenneth Branaugh), the conflict of the film is between Russian and American business, also involving a violent father-son vendetta. This is nice, but is that all John Wick is about?
Definitely not.
I like the edginess of this poster because of the ink and smudges, the "writerly" and "graphic art" nature it communicates. John Wick is a creation of ink and paper, which is what this image accentuates, but his story is about the most vulnerable piece of each person: our heart, and our heart's need for love, and what happens when that love is taken from us. Wick finally evolves past the bad circumstances to achieve inner-peace; for being a character of ink and paper, he reminds us of how fragile flesh and blood can be.
John Wick is THE MAN, and in the highly anti-white-heterosexual-male atmosphere of America today, making a film glorifying a white man with very traditional values of masculinity is an act of political sabotage. John Wick doesn't depend on anyone to take care of him, he takes care of his own business. Helen succumbs to a lengthy illness after collapsing one night, (in Guardians Of the Galaxy, Peter Quill's mother died of a similar circumstance) reflecting the slow disease eating America right now and the financial "collapse" of 2008. The gold coins and Wick's stash of weapons also offer political commentary.
The character of Charon, the hotel manager who assists Wick throughout the film, is an important one because, even though Charon is a figure from mythology, he symbolizes the division between the living and the dead, being the ferryman who takes souls to their eternal destination. This half-way-world of the hotel adds not only to the Christian symbolism of the film (when Viggo talks about God taking Helen) but also the journey that Wick's own soul is on to find redemption and get his "personal issues" resolved. In the scene above, when Wick asks Charon, "How good is your laundry?" and Charon replies, "No one is that good," it's Wick realizing that he has spilled more blood than he had intended, and he needs to atone for what he has done (cleanse his soul of the blood he has spilled). Charon's reply validates that Wick will have to atone for the blood, not just wash it away.
Why do all those associated with the mafia in the film pay for everything with gold coins (Wick has a couple of rolls of them stored with his weapons)? Gold is king, for one thing, so accepting payment with gold means you're investing in your future by accepting payment in gold; secondly, and far more interesting, gold doesn't tarnish, so in this ultra-corrupt world of murderers and bosses, you might not be able to trust him, but you can trust his gold, which brings us to the last point: Ms. Perkins.
Why is a church used as a front for Viggo's vault? For at least two reasons. First, it articulates how this lifestyle this group of people have chosen is their "religion," (as Christ warned Peter, those who live by the sword shall perish by the sword). What Viggo reveals was in the vault also better reveals Viggo's identity: "his leverage" for blackmail and influence was in the vault, which, we can argue, is what the devil does to us in keeping a record of all our sins. Wick has, essentially, freed all the people who were under Viggo's thumb because he had something on them, and by freeing them, he has come a step closer to freeing himself. This is just one of the connections to an earlier Reeves film Constantine
I had hopes that Perkins would prove to be a conversion figure, that perhaps Wick would be able to save her from her path of self-destruction; that didn't happen. Perkins isn't just a contract murderer, she is willing to disobey any of the codes of conduct in their "business," and it's proper that Harry, another hit man helping Wick, tells Perkins, "You're no lady." In addition to Harry spelling it out for us, we know the film makers agree with Harry because there is something Perkins lacks: a first name. Not having a first name in the film, she's only referred to as Perkins, means that she has forfeited her identity to commit acts of evil: compare the awe people are in of the name "John Wick," and the symbolic importance of the dog being named "Daisy," so that Perkins missing her name reveals that she is a "doomed" character, but she does do one thing right: she tells Wick the truth, which leads us to Marcus.
What does Perkins symbolize? What Helen is not: the Dark Woman. Helen is a woman of love, Perkins is a woman for hire. Helen reminds us of the "ultimate woman" Helen of Troy, whereas Perkins will slip into an abyss and no one will mourn or remember her. Perkins, then, is an image of self-sabotage, choosing to live the dangerous life and forego the warning signs of impending disaster--like the fine she will have to pay for breaking the hotel rules--for a quick buck. 
Granted, Wick has a gun to Perkins' head when he "persuades" her to give him something to have cause to keep her alive, even though Wick probably knows that Winston, the owner of The Continental will have her killed for breaking the rules; Perkins delivers, and Wick is so confident that Perkins tells him the truth of the church in Little Russia being a front for Viggo's vault, that he goes into the church shooting the "priest." When, then, Viggo shows up at Marcus' house and asks in person (rather than calling on the phone) for Marcus to kill Wick, and Marcus lies and tells Viggo he will, Marcus has, sadly, committed a greater crime than even Perkins committed. Marcus didn't have to lie, he could have said, "Thank you for offering me the contract, but I can't do it, we are friends," because there is no indication that Viggo would have had him killed for saying "no thanks." But Marcus lying, even for his friend Wick, and then paying for his lie with his life validates the rigid structure of the film's self-imposed morality scale.
Why does Viggo kill Marcus (or is getting ready to have Marcus killed?) and then call Wick to let him know? First of all, it appears that Marcus wants to "go out on his own terms," and we can say that is accurate, but Marcus arranged his death when he lied to Viggo instead of telling Viggo he couldn't take a contract on Wick. To some people, in the grand scheme of the film's violence, they may be asking, what's one lie? That's because we have lost our understanding of what sin is and what it does to us. Again, Marcus still could have protected Wick because the contract wasn't exclusive to Marcus, so there were plenty of people after Wick. Viggo feels so guilty, though, about having offered his son up in his own place, that Viggo wants retaliation against Wick and Marcus' lie is the "vehicle" to accomplish that. Note that Viggo wears a purple shirt in this scene and purple is the color of suffering. When Wick retaliates against Viggo, it's not so much that he's entering into an old-fashioned blood feud with Viggo over Marcus' death, rather, instead of doing penance and facing up to how cowardly he's been, he's forcing Wick into a position to make Wick come and kill him; in effect, Viggo won't take responsibility for his own actions, and is passing the buck onto Wick.
In conclusion, John Wick is a great film on several levels, and the kind of film Americans need to be seeing right now to remind us of individuality, pain and suffering, the importance of free will, Divine Retribution and Divine Forgiveness. When Wick calls to make dinner reservations for 12, and Charlie's Specialized Waste Disposal truck arrives, Wick has indeed removed waste from his life in terms of the emotional turmoil the men breaking in symbolize to his psyche, and the film calls for us to be willing to do the same in our own unconscious minds, reminding us that even a "action-flick" can aspire to the status of art when the proper tools are used so that we be thoroughly engaged and come out, like the hero, better for it in the end. (Here is the link to the sequel film: Ex Communicado: John Wick Chapter 2).
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner
This poster could be a picture of any one of us, as you or I could, at any moment, lose all that we hold most dear, and become emotionally volatile and take it out on anything. Let us use the film to remember, not only how delicate we ourselves are, but everyone else, too.