Analysis of John wick

Summary The movie follows the story of John Wick, a retired hitman dealing with the recent loss of his wife. When his dog is killed in a robbery, he seeks revenge against those responsible, which includes the son of a powerful underworld figure. With a bounty on his head, John must fight for survival against a slew of assassins while trying to bring down his target. After successfully completing his mission, John seeks redemption by rescuing a dog and driving off into the distance.

Screenplay Story Analysis

Story Critique The screenplay of John Wick is a thrilling action-packed story about a retired assassin seeking revenge for the death of his beloved dog. The story is well-paced, and the action scenes are well-executed. However, the character development is weak, with most of the characters being one-dimensional and lacking depth. The plot is straightforward, with no significant twists or surprises.
Suggestions: To improve the screenplay, more attention should be given to character development. Fleshing out the characters would make them more relatable and would add emotional weight to the story. The plot could also benefit from more twists and turns to keep the audience engaged. Finally, more attention should be given to the dialogue to make it more natural and engaging.

Note: This is the overall critique. For scene by scene critique click here

Characters in the screenplay, and their arcs:

John Wick

John Wick is a skilled and highly trained former hitman and military man who is grieving the loss of his wife. He is stoic, determined, and ruthless, but shows a vulnerable and compassionate side in his bond with his dog and his relationship with Daisy, the small Chorgi. He draws strength from his routine and finds purpose in seeking revenge against those who wronged him.


Moose is a small, loyal dog who is John's constant companion. He is playful and energetic, but also fiercely protective of John. Moose is a significant presence in John's life and his death sets off a chain of events that drives the story forward.


Aurelio is a middle-aged man who runs Aurelio's Automotive. He is well-respected by his team of skilled mechanics and has earned a reputation as a father figure to them. Aurelio is friendly and approachable, but he is also known for his no-nonsense attitude when it comes to his business. He has a strong moral compass and is willing to assist John, his former associate, in his time of need. Aurelio is a loyal friend and will do whatever it takes to help those he cares about.


Iosef is a young and arrogant member of the Russian mafia, the son of a Russian mobster, with a reckless and impulsive nature. He is shown to be cowardly, yet still willing to fight back when pushed into a corner. He lacks experience and understanding of the consequences of his actions, leading him to steal John's car and kill his beloved dog, which ultimately sets off a violent chain of events. As the story progresses, Iosef begins to understand the gravity of what he has done and becomes increasingly afraid of the consequences. His shaken demeanor reveals his vulnerability, and he is forced to confront his mistakes and the violent world he has been a part of.


John is a highly skilled and determined former hitman seeking revenge after the death of his dog. He is physically and mentally resilient, capable of enduring pain and exhaustion in order to achieve his goal. While he is a man of few words, his determination and skill are evident in his every move. John is also deeply affected by the loss of his wife and dog and is seeking redemption for his past life as a hitman.

Iosef Tarasov

Iosef Tarasov is a young man in his early twenties, with a tall and lanky build. He has a narrow face with a sharp nose and piercing blue eyes. His hair is shaved on the sides and styled into a slicked-back undercut. Iosef exudes a sense of entitlement and carelessness, as if he expects the world to bend to his will. He dresses in expensive and trendy designer clothes, which he wears with a cocky swagger. Despite his tough exterior, Iosef is physically weak and lacks the experience to back up his bravado. He is often petulant and quick to lash out when things don't go his way.


Viggo is a powerful and ruthless crime lord who is driven by his desire to protect his interests and his son. He is highly intelligent, always thinking several steps ahead of his enemies and willing to do whatever it takes to maintain his position of power. However, he also has a strong sense of loyalty, particularly towards his family and his closest allies. Despite his ruthless nature, he can also be surprisingly charming and charismatic, able to win over people with his smooth-talking and impeccable manners.


Marcus is an experienced hitman who has retired from his dangerous profession. He is reserved and thoughtful, preferring a quiet life to the violence and chaos of his past. Despite his retirement, he has remained close with his old friend John Wick, and when Viggo seeks him out for help, he agrees to assist. Marcus is wise and analytical, always carefully considering his options before taking action. He is protective of his loved ones, but can become ruthless when necessary.

Character Arc Critique Suggestions
John Wick John Wick goes through a character arc that takes him from a grieving, lonely man to a man seeking vengeance. Initially, he is inconsolable in his grief and finds solace in his routine. He is forced out of his routine when his dog is killed and seeks revenge, drawing on his training and ruthless resolve. In the end, he finds closure and a sense of purpose in his revenge, coming to terms with his loss and freeing himself from the cycle of grief. The character arc for John Wick is well-executed, but it falls into the trap of relying too heavily on revenge as the solution to his grief. While seeking vengeance provides closure for John, it doesn't resolve his grief or provide a healthy way to move on from his loss. Additionally, the arc doesn't explore the impact of John's actions on the characters around him and the wider world of the story.
To improve the character arc, the story could incorporate moments where John begins to process his grief in a healthier way, perhaps through therapy or finding a new passion. The arc could also explore the consequences of John's actions, both on the people who wronged him and on the wider criminal underworld. These additions would deepen John's character and make the story more impactful.
Moose Moose's arc in the screenplay is one of tragedy and sacrifice. Although he is a minor character, his death sets the protagonist on a path of revenge and redemption. Moose's death is the inciting incident that drives the plot forward and ultimately leads to John's transformation. Throughout the film, Moose remains a powerful symbol of John's loss and his unwavering loyalty. While Moose is an important character in the story, his arc feels somewhat unrealistic and contrived. It seems unlikely that the death of a dog would have such a profound impact on a person's life, especially one who is already a hardened killer. Additionally, Moose's sacrificial death feels like an easy way to manipulate the audience into feeling sympathy for John. As a result, the character comes across as a bit manipulative and forced.
To improve Moose's character arc, the writer could focus more on John's relationship with Moose and how it reflects his humanity. Instead of simply using Moose as a plot device, the writer could explore how Moose represents John's more vulnerable side and how losing him is a catalyst for John's transformation. By making Moose's death feel more organic and less manipulative, the audience will be more invested in John's journey and the story will feel more authentic.
Aurelio At the beginning of the movie, Aurelio is content with his life and business. However, when John comes to him for help, Aurelio becomes involved in a dangerous criminal underworld that slowly puts him and his team in harm's way. Throughout the course of the movie, he risks everything to help John and becomes a valuable ally in John's mission for revenge. By the end of the movie, Aurelio has grown from a content auto mechanic to a trusted ally in the criminal underworld, ready to do whatever it takes to stand by his friends. While Aurelio is a well-written character, his arc could be expanded on more. His role in the story is primarily as a helper to John and a trusted friend. It would be interesting to see Aurelio have more of a personal stake in the events of the story, perhaps by introducing a conflict or challenge that he must overcome in order to help John.
One way to improve Aurelio's character arc would be to introduce a storyline where his garage is in danger of being shut down, and Aurelio must work with John to save it. This would give Aurelio a personal stake in the story and add an extra layer of tension to his character arc. Additionally, it would be interesting to see Aurelio's moral compass tested, perhaps by having him make a difficult decision that goes against his usual way of doing things.
Iosef Iosef's character arc begins with him being a carefree and arrogant member of the Russian mafia. However, after stealing John's car and killing his dog, Iosef's world is turned upside down as John seeks revenge. As he begins to understand the consequences of his actions, Iosef becomes increasingly afraid and vulnerable, realizing that he has crossed a line that cannot be undone. This fear ultimately leads to him being willing to turn on his own family and become a witness for John's case against the Russian mafia, a decision that ultimately leads to his downfall and death. While Iosef's character arc is well-developed, it falls into the trap of the 'villain redemption' trope, in which a character's wrongdoing is ultimately resolved by becoming a hero. This trope can be problematic because it absolves the character of their wrongdoings and ignores the consequences of their actions. Additionally, Iosef's arc may feel predictable and lacks a sense of uniqueness.
To improve Iosef's character arc, the focus should shift away from his redemption and instead highlight the consequences of his actions. This could be done by showing the impact that his crimes have on John's life and the people around him, as well as the repercussions that Iosef faces from both the law and the Russian mafia. It may also be beneficial to give Iosef more depth and complexity beyond his role as a villain, such as exploring his motivations for joining the mafia and his relationships with other characters. By doing so, his arc will feel more nuanced and less predictable.
John John starts as a skilled and determined hitman seeking revenge for the death of his dog. As he fights through various levels of enemies, he begins to realize the toll his life of violence has taken on him and seeks redemption by rescuing a dog named Miko from being put down. The appreciation and love he receives from Miko help him find a sense of purpose and a way to move on from his dark past. The character arc is a bit predictable and relies heavily on cliches. While the redemption storyline is compelling, it feels like a rehashing of similar storylines we've seen in other action movies. John's initial motivation for revenge also feels a bit superficial and doesn't provide much depth to his character.
To improve the character arc, perhaps consider delving more into John's past and exploring the reasons why he became a hitman in the first place. This could add more depth to his character and provide a more nuanced understanding of his motivations. Additionally, consider adding more complexity to John's relationships with other characters, such as his former employer and potential allies. This could add more tension and intrigue to the overall story.
Iosef Tarasov Iosef's character arc in the screenplay begins with him stealing John Wick's car, setting off a chain of events that leads to his own demise. Initially dismissive of the danger he has put himself in, Iosef is forced to confront the reality of his situation when his father becomes involved. As John enters the scene, Iosef becomes increasingly defiant and arrogant, even as he realizes that he has severely underestimated his opponent. Throughout the film, Iosef is shown to be completely out of his depth, unable to comprehend the gravity of the situation he has put himself in. Ultimately, his arrogance and carelessness lead to his downfall, as John exacts his brutal revenge. The character arc for Iosef Tarasov is somewhat underdeveloped, with his character remaining largely static throughout the film. While he does experience moments of fear and realization, there is little actual growth or change in his personality. Additionally, his motivations remain unclear - why does he decide to steal John's car, and why does he continue to provoke him even as he realizes the danger he's in?
To improve Iosef's character arc, it would be beneficial to explore his backstory and motivations more deeply. What drives him to act out in such a reckless manner? Is he trying to impress his father, or does he simply enjoy the thrill of the power he wields? Additionally, showing more vulnerability or moments of weakness would humanize him and make his eventual downfall more impactful. Finally, Iosef's ultimate fate could be used to highlight the dangers of hubris and entitlement, and show the consequences of failing to take things seriously.
Viggo At the beginning of the screenplay, Viggo is confident in his power and his ability to control those around him. However, as he becomes increasingly aware of John Wick's skill and determination, he realizes that he may have underestimated his opponent. As John continues to sabotage his plans, Viggo becomes increasingly desperate and erratic, lashing out in anger and making increasingly risky decisions. In the end, his obsession with revenge leads to his downfall, as he is ultimately unable to outsmart John and is forced to confront the consequences of his actions. Overall, Viggo's arc is fairly well-executed. However, it could benefit from more nuance and complexity. While his initial confidence and ruthlessness are well-established, his descent into desperation and recklessness feels somewhat abrupt and unearned. Additionally, his ultimate defeat at the hands of John Wick feels somewhat predictable, and it would be interesting to see him engage in more active attempts to outsmart his opponent.
To improve Viggo's character arc, consider adding more depth to his motivations and backstory. What led him to become a crime lord, and what drives him to protect his son and his empire at any cost? Additionally, give him more opportunities to demonstrate his cunning and intelligence in his attempts to outsmart John. For example, he could take more active steps to try and track down John or get closer to his inner circle, rather than relying solely on his enforcers. Finally, consider giving him a more complex relationship with John, perhaps showing some grudging respect or even a twisted kind of friendship as they engage in a deadly game of cat and mouse.
Marcus At the beginning of the movie, Marcus is content with his retirement and has no desire to return to the world of hitmen. However, when John reaches out for help, he is drawn back in. Throughout the film, Marcus struggles with his conflicting desires for a peaceful life and his loyalty to his friend. Ultimately, he chooses to help John, but his actions have consequences that force him to question whether he made the right choice. By the end of the movie, Marcus has come to terms with the fact that his past will always be a part of him, but he can still strive to do better in the future. The character arc for Marcus is solid, but it could benefit from a clearer motivation for his decision to help John. While it makes sense that he would feel loyal to an old friend, there could be more explanation for why he is initially hesitant to become involved. Additionally, his ultimate decision to help John could use more of an emotional payoff, rather than simply being the right thing to do. Finally, while Marcus has some depth as a character, his personality and motivations are somewhat overshadowed by John Wick's story.
To improve Marcus's character arc, the screenplay could explore his motivations for retiring from his hitman days in the first place, to give context for why he is reluctant to help John. The movie could also give him more moments of emotional conflict, where he doubts his choices and struggles with the consequences of his actions. Additionally, the film could spend more time developing Marcus as a character in his own right -- perhaps giving him a distinct goal or desire that isn't just tied to his relationship with John.
Theme Theme Details Themee Explanation
Grief and LossJohn is mourning the loss of his wife and the death of his dog, which motivates his actions throughout the screenplay.Grief and loss are central themes to the story of John Wick, the loss of his wife and his dog motivating him to take revenge and act on his own terms.
RevengeJohn seeks revenge on those who have wronged him, starting with Iosef and his gang stealing his car and then moving on to those who were hired to kill him.The theme of revenge is a driving force in John Wick, as his anger and desire for revenge motivate him to take action against those who have wronged him.
RedemptionJohn is seeking to redeem himself by leaving his violent past as a hired killer behind, but is ultimately forced to embrace his violent nature once again in order to achieve his goals.The theme of redemption is also present in John Wick, as he seeks to leave his violent past behind and start anew, but ultimately has to embrace that part of himself in order to achieve his goals.
Violence and DeathThe film is filled with scenes of violence and death, from the opening sequence where John's wife dies to the final confrontation with Iosef.The theme of violence and death is prominent throughout the screenplay, as it is a defining characteristic of John Wick's world and his own actions.
Friendship and LoyaltyJohn's friendship and loyalty to Marcus are important to the film's plot and his overall character.The theme of friendship and loyalty is also important to the story, as John's relationship with Marcus is a defining aspect of his character and the film's plot.

Screenwriting Resources on Themes


Site Description
Studio Binder Movie Themes: Examples of Common Themes for Screenwriters
Coverfly Improving your Screenplay's theme
John August Writing from Theme

YouTube Videos

Title Description
Story, Plot, Genre, Theme - Screenwriting Basics Screenwriting basics - beginner video
What is theme Discussion on ways to layer theme into a screenplay.
Thematic Mistakes You're Making in Your Script Common Theme mistakes and Philosophical Conflicts