There aren’t many film series in which a single character has the ability to rack up an extremely high kill count, especially for the first feature in a franchise. However, Keanu Reeves’ portrayal of “retired” hitman John Wick is evidence of a character who is focused, precise, and ready to fight at a moment’s notice.
Aside from horror villains like Jason Voorhees, Freddy Kruger, and Michael Myers (who each have a respectable kill count), as well as action legends Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger (the Rambo pictures and Commando are examples of films in which a lot of bad guys get satisfying deaths), what makes John Wick stand out amongst action characters and killers is his effortlessness and his unique skill set when it comes to taking on several enemies at once.
Wick’s Kill Count In His Debut Feature
The first John Wick feature introduces the ex-assassin, who just lost his wife Helen and is mourning her death. During that time, Wick receives a puppy named Daisy (a gift from his late wife) so that he doesn’t grieve alone, but soon after, Wick gets beat up by Iosef (the son of a Russian mobster named Viggo Tarasov) and his associate, who end up killing his dog and stealing his car (a fancy 1969 Ford Mustang). This causes Wick to seek vengeance and kill once again, returning to the life he thought was completely behind him.
What makes the first John Wick picture intriguing is that the number of kills its protagonist originally had in the script was only a few people (around three kills). However, Wick has 77 total kills by the end of the film. A few kills would undoubtedly be satisfying, but then it wouldn’t do justice to the character because one of the main purposes of the movie is to display Wick’s skills in combat and marksmanship, and audiences would expect to see a character who’s deadly and can’t be messed with.
Wick’s first set of kills occurs when a crew of assassins infiltrates his elegant home in New Jersey. This moment introduces spectators to Wick’s marksman skills, which are very accurate as he aims and shoots several targets in the head and chest, while also moving around quickly in order to not get caught and rapidly changing clips in his pistol. Wick also reveals his fighting skills, especially when breaking a guy’s neck and stabbing a man with his own knife.
The Nightclub Sequence
Perhaps the most memorable set of kills in Wick’s first outing is the entire nightclub sequence (which Keanu trained for and memorized in one day). When Wick goes after Iosef and his friends, he is forced to go through Viggo’s crew (and has most of his kills in this scene). Wick is able to demonstrate his ability to infiltrate his enemies by quietly sneaking up on them and stabbing henchmen with his knife (a style reminiscent of Rambo) before using his pistol when fully detected.
The sequence is an entertaining mix of martial arts (Jiu-Jitsu) and gunplay (an homage to the energetic Hong Kong action pictures of John Woo). The way Wick can hit and shoot guys at the same time is a testament to his skills and training because the action is not only a series of well-choreographed movements but also the story of Wick’s history as a deadly assassin.
Wick Can Kill Men With Larger Weapons Anywhere
Aside from his pistols, Wick also reveals his ability to take down enemies with a large automatic weapon, especially in an action scene at a church in which he aims and shoots men from all sides like a crucifix (up, down, left, right). Wick also proves he can kill men not only in indoor settings but outdoors as well, such as a scene in which he shoots several of Viggo’s men around a number of vehicles (efficiently using them for cover).
There’s also a pivotal sequence in which Wick expertly uses a sniper rifle in order to take out Iosef’s security detail at a safe house, while also pretending to be one of the henchmen by speaking in Russian over the mic. This is also the only scene in which he uses an explosive device to eliminate certain targets, providing the perfect trap to kill Iosef last.
Wick’s One-On-One Kills
Wick has several intense one-on-one kills (many of whom get shot and stabbed), but two of those kills are his most intimate. His second fight with Kirill (who gave Wick a run for his money by giving him a beat down during their first confrontation) is one of the most physical battles in the movie. Kirill proves that he is one of the few guys who can stand toe-to-toe against Wick and give him a tough match. However, unfortunately for Kirill, Wick manages to beat him in their second battle by strangling him.
Wick’s final fight with Viggo is not as physical as many of Wick’s other fights, but it is very personal because both men used to work together but have become enemies once Iosef ruined Wick’s moment of peace in his life. While Viggo is a tough guy and manages to land some punches, he isn’t as strong as Wick and uses a knife to try and kill the master assassin. Wick even allows himself to get stabbed by Viggo’s knife in order to get the upper hand and ends Viggo by breaking his arm and stabbing him.
Of course, Wick will go on to kill even more men in the sequels (John Wick: Chapter 2 with a whopping 128 kills, and 94 kills in John Wick 3: Parabellum). However, 77 kills for a first feature is massive and displays the power and accuracy of John Wick as a master assassin. The body count will surely be high again in John Wick: Chapter 4.