Few action franchises have been more surprising than John Wick. After the first movie opened to great reviews and even more love from audiences, the franchise took off, and it’s now four movies deep. Ahead of John Wick: Chapter 4, it seems like the perfect time to look back at some of the best action sequences from the series to date.
These are the sequences that contained the most thrilling choreography, were set in the coolest places, or had the most inventive camerawork. What unites them all, though, is Keanu Reeves’ utter commitment to making his action look rad as hell.
The first John Wick has plenty of great action, but there’s no moment when John seems to really meet his match. In Part 2, though, we meet Cassian, the vengeful bodyguard to Gianna who goes to extraordinary lengths to take John down.
After John takes down Gianna, we get an incredible sequence as he attempts to escape through some catacombs. The real capper to this setpiece, though, is the fight between Cassian and John, which quickly establishes that John may finally have met his match inside this world of deadly assassins.
John has a home field advantage when it comes time to take down the assassins that have been sent to his home in the original John Wick. What makes this sequence so perfect, though, is the way it perfectly establishes who John really is.
Up until now, we’ve only seen John as the victim. Once John begins defending his own home, though, we come to understand just why everyone is so upset about his dead dog. The Baba Yaga is coming, and there’s very little that anyone can do to stop him.
Pound for pound, Parabellum probably has the best action set pieces in the entire trilogy, and the motorcycle chase definitely ranks among its best. The battle, which happens early in the film and follows John around the streets of New York, is a smart variation on the hand-to-hand combat that usually dominates these movies. Here, we get a genuine chase sequence, and it’s one filled with creativity that also takes full advantage of what New York provides as a backdrop.
We don’t really get to see what John is capable of until he arrives at the bathhouse in the original John Wick. Here, he takes out bodyguards using a stunning mixture of hand-to-hand combat and gunfire, and seems utterly driven to find the boy who killed his dog.
It’s the moment that John Wick really unveils what it’s capable of, and the moment that made a franchise feel viable. Keanu is committed to every moment of the scene, and he knows how to move through the action beats without losing track of what he’s supposed to be feeling as a performer.
One of the more intricate action sequences in the trilogy to date, this sequence features John taking down a series of assassins who have been sent by Santino. John has to quickly and discreetly take each of these assassins out, all while he’s aware that Cassian is hot on his heels.
It’s in this sequence that we finally see what John is capable of doing with only a pencil at his disposal, and it’s more than most men could do with a gun. The sequence culminates in yet another all-out battle with Cassian, one that gets increasingly violent and personal as it goes on.
Undoubtedly the most elaborate fight sequence in any of the John Wick films, this knife fight sees John surrounded by assassins who are attempting to take him down. Eventually, he finds himself surrounded in an antique weapons store, which is when both he and his opponents begin using the knives in the display case against one another.
The way the knives fly around in this sequence is both beautiful and deranged, and the way the fight culminates in brute force is a reminder that John is willing to use whatever tool will help him survive until the next fight.