John Wick: the story so far

Death and destruction are given an achingly stylish makeover in John Wick: Chapter 4. The increasingly excellent action franchise tops itself with another jaw-dropping onslaught of martial arts choreography and gunplay as Keanu Reeves' fearsome killer takes his battle to an international level.

As Wick battles the entirety of the High Table, we span the globe from New York to Osaka, Paris to Berlin as the story draws in a memorable rogue's gallery of action icons. This includes the revered Donnie Yen as blind fighter Caine (warning: do not underestimate him) whose journey interlocks with that of Wick.

Bamboozled by that reference to the High Table? Don't know your Wicks from your Winstons? We're here to help. Ahead of the fourth film's release at Cineworld this Friday, here's our bite-sized recap of the explosive and exhilarating story so far.


John Wick (2015):

  • John Wick is a retired assassin living with his beloved wife Helen

  • However, she passes away from an illness, bequeathing him a beagle puppy

  • Wick is later accosted by Iosef (Alfie Allen), son of feared New York mobster Viggo (Michael Nyqvist)

  • Iosef and his men break into John's house, steal his Ford Mustang and kill his dog

  • Viggo berates his son for invoking the wrath of the 'baba yaga' (boogeyman) and puts his men on high alert

  • Viggo used to be John's employer and was the man who gave John a way out of the business after he fell in love with Helen

  • John breaks out a top-secret weapons cache from the floor of his basement and prepares to go to war

  • With a $2 million bounty on his head, John seeks sanctuary at the Continental Hotel, managed by Winston (Ian McShane) and with a front desk helmed by Charon (the late Lance Reddick)

  • The building is considered consecrated ground and it is forbidden for assassins to kill each other while on the premises

  • Wick dedicates himself to executing Iosef over the death of his puppy, as it was his one remaining connection to his late wife

  • Both Winston and John's old friend Marcus (Willem Dafoe) attempt to dissuade John from returning to his old life

  • John eventually confronts Viggo at the New York Harbour docks, ultimately leaving him to die

  • John steals a pit bull puppy that is scheduled to be put down


John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

  • John is visited by Camorra crime boss Santino D'Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio), the man who helped John complete his "impossible task", which allowed him to retire and marry Helen

  • In return, John swore to a "marker", an unbreakable vow symbolized by a "blood oath" medallion

  • However, John rejects the marker presented to him by Santino, which results in his house being destroyed

  • Upon returning to the Continental, John is reminded by Winston of two sacred vows: no killing on consecrated ground and no rejection of a marker

  • John then reluctantly commits to Santino's marker and he is tasked with eliminating the latter's sister Gianna (Claudia Gerini) in Rome

  • By doing so, John will cement Santino's place at the High Table

  • The High Table is an elite, 12-strong fraternity of high-ranking crime bosses who manage underworld affairs across the globe

  • With Gianna dead by suicide, John is then double-crossed by Santino and his men who seek to tie up the loose end 

  • Santino opens a contract for $7 million to kill John, ostensibly to avenge his sister, and owing to the marker John cannot fight back

  • Winston intervenes and frees John from being unable to move against Santino

  • John battles his way back to New York to take revenge on Santino, now an official member of the High Table

  • John seeks help from underground mobster the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne)

  • The Bowery King gives John a gun with only seven bullets, one for each million of the contract, and directs John to an art museum where Santino holds a gala

  • Santino flees to the Continental where he seeks sanctuary, but John violates the cardinal rule and executes him in the lobby

  • John's contract is then doubled and he's informed by Winston that he's now 'excommunicado', cut off from all access to underworld resources

  • However, Winston gives John a one-hour head start and a new marker for future use as news of the contract spreads across the world


John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum (2019):

  • Now excommunicado, John is beset on all sides by armed assassins with whom he battles in libraries, antique stores and on the street

  • John later meets with The Director (Angelica Huston), the head of the Ruska Roma crime syndicate, where he presents a rosary and demands safe passage to Casablanca

  • As John was once a member of the Ruska Roma, his passage is reluctantly granted

  • Meanwhile, Winston and the Bowery King are given seven days to resign their positions as punishment for helping John

  • Winston and the Bowery King are being pressured to abdicate by the Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon) and her assassin accomplice Zero (Mark Dacascos), but Winston refuses

  • In Casablanca, John uses his new marker to bind old acquaintance Sofia (Halle Berry) to his debt

  • He compels Sofia to take him into the desert to meet the Elder (Saïd Taghmaoui), the only person above the High Table

  • After nearly collapsing during his searing journey through the desert, John is brought before the Elder, stating he wants to live to keep the memory of his wife alive

  • The Elder agrees to forgive John if he kills Winston and remains subservient to the High Table for the remainder of his life

  • To seal the deal, John severs his ring finger and he gives the ring to the Elder

  • John returns to the Continental and, upon refusing to kill Winston, the Adjudicator revokes the building's neutral status

  • All-out war erupts as John and Charon fight the Adjudicator's forces, and eventually John mortally wounds Zero

  • On the roof of the Continental, The Adjudicator agrees to a parley with Winston, who offers fealty to the High Table

  • When John arrives, Winston shoots him off the roof and is later reinstated to his position as manager

  • John is saved by the Bowery King's men and the two join forces, swearing vengeance against the entirety of the High Table


Where will the story go next? Click here to book your tickets for John Wick: Chapter 4 and find out when the movie is released at Cineworld this Friday.