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?
But there's still more.
What is that statement?
|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).|
No, just the opposite.
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?
|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.|
Ex Communicado: John Wick Chapter 2).
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