Do We Need To Watch John Wick Before John Wick 4?

by Barbara

The John Wick series, starring Keanu Reeves as the titular character, has captivated audiences since its debut in 2014. The action-packed franchise follows the journey of a retired hitman drawn back into the violent underworld he once left behind. With the release of John Wick 4, many viewers wonder if it is necessary to watch the previous installments to fully appreciate and understand the latest film. In this article, we will explore this question in detail.

1. Understanding the Backstory

One of the primary reasons to watch the earlier John Wick films is to understand the backstory of the characters and the world they inhabit. The series has a rich narrative that builds upon each previous film.


The Origins of John Wick

The first film introduces us to John Wick, a former assassin seeking a peaceful life after the death of his wife, Helen. His hopes for tranquility are shattered when a group of thugs, led by Iosef Tarasov, steal his car and kill his beloved dog, a final gift from Helen. This act of violence propels John back into the world of assassination, setting off a chain of events that continue throughout the series.


Building the World

The John Wick universe is meticulously crafted, with each film adding layers of depth to its secretive world. From the Continental Hotel, a sanctuary for assassins, to the High Table, the ruling council of the criminal underworld, the lore of the series is extensive and complex. Watching the previous films helps viewers understand these elements and appreciate the intricacies of the world-building.


2. Character Development and Relationships

Character development and relationships are central to the John Wick series. Watching the earlier films provides essential context for understanding the motivations and dynamics between characters in John Wick 4.

John’s Allies and Enemies

Throughout the series, John Wick forms alliances and enmities that significantly impact the storyline. Characters like Winston, the manager of the Continental Hotel, and Bowery King, the leader of an underground intelligence network, play crucial roles. Their relationships with John evolve over time, and their actions are often driven by past interactions.

Character Arcs and Growth

John Wick himself undergoes significant development. The first film shows a man fueled by grief and vengeance, while the subsequent films explore his struggle for survival and quest for freedom. Understanding his journey and the transformations he undergoes enriches the viewing experience of John Wick 4.

3. Continuity and Plot Progression

The John Wick series follows a continuous storyline, with each film picking up where the last one left off. This continuity is crucial for understanding the plot progression in John Wick 4.

Sequential Storytelling

Each installment of John Wick builds upon the events of the previous film. For example, the second film begins with John retrieving his stolen car and quickly transitions into a new conflict involving a blood oath. The third film, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, starts immediately after the events of the second, with John on the run after being declared excommunicado by the High Table. This seamless storytelling approach makes it challenging to jump into the series at the fourth installment without missing key plot points.

Unresolved Conflicts

John Wick 4 is expected to address unresolved conflicts and plot threads from the earlier films. Understanding these ongoing storylines requires familiarity with the previous entries. Whether it’s John’s quest for vengeance, his attempts to escape the criminal underworld, or his battles with the High Table, these plotlines are deeply interwoven and best appreciated with full context.

4. Thematic Consistency

The John Wick series is known for its thematic consistency, exploring themes such as loyalty, revenge, and the consequences of violence. Watching the earlier films enhances the appreciation of these themes as they continue to develop in John Wick 4.

Exploration of Loyalty and Betrayal

Loyalty and betrayal are recurring themes in the series. Characters are often forced to make difficult choices that test their allegiances. John’s relationships with characters like Winston and Bowery King are complex and fraught with tension. These themes are likely to be further explored in John Wick 4, and understanding the foundation laid in the earlier films enriches this exploration.

The Consequences of Violence

The series does not shy away from depicting the brutal consequences of a life of violence. John Wick’s actions have far-reaching effects, impacting those around him and escalating conflicts. The emotional and physical toll on John is a key aspect of his character arc. Witnessing his journey through the previous films provides a deeper understanding of the stakes and consequences presented in John Wick 4.


5. Action and Cinematic Style

The John Wick series is renowned for its innovative and meticulously choreographed action sequences. Watching the previous films allows viewers to appreciate the evolution of the franchise’s distinctive style.

Evolution of Action Choreography

Each John Wick film has raised the bar for action choreography, with increasingly complex and visually stunning fight scenes. The series is known for its “gun-fu” style, blending martial arts with gunplay. Watching the progression of these sequences through the first three films highlights the innovation and craftsmanship that define the series.

Cinematic Techniques and Visual Storytelling

The series also stands out for its visual storytelling and cinematic techniques. From the neon-lit cityscapes to the carefully framed shots, the films create a distinctive aesthetic. Understanding the visual language developed in the earlier films enhances the appreciation of John Wick 4’s cinematography and direction.

6. Emotional Investment

One of the key benefits of watching the earlier John Wick films is the emotional investment that builds over time. The series is not just about action; it also delves into the emotional and psychological aspects of its characters.

Connection with John Wick

Viewers who have followed John Wick’s journey from the beginning have developed a strong emotional connection with his character. Witnessing his struggles, losses, and moments of resilience creates a deeper engagement with his story. This connection enhances the impact of the events in John Wick 4, making the viewing experience more rewarding.

Emotional Payoffs

The series delivers numerous emotional payoffs, often linked to the relationships and character arcs established in the earlier films. Moments of triumph, loss, and redemption carry more weight when viewers have a comprehensive understanding of the characters’ histories. Watching the previous films ensures that these emotional moments resonate more powerfully.

7. Introduction to New Characters

While John Wick 4 introduces new characters, many of the series’ recurring characters play crucial roles. Understanding their backgrounds and motivations requires familiarity with the earlier films.

Returning Characters

Characters like Winston, Bowery King, and Charon have established roles within the John Wick universe. Their actions and decisions in John Wick 4 are influenced by their past interactions with John and the evolving dynamics of the series. Watching the previous films provides essential context for their relationships and developments.

New Additions

John Wick 4 also introduces new characters who add fresh dynamics to the story. While it’s possible to enjoy these characters on a surface level, understanding their place within the broader narrative and their interactions with established characters is enhanced by prior knowledge of the series.

8. Appreciation of Lore and Mythology

The John Wick series has developed an intricate lore and mythology, featuring elements like the Continental Hotel, the High Table, and various codes of conduct within the assassin community. Watching the earlier films provides a comprehensive understanding of these elements.

World-Building Elements

The series introduces various world-building elements that contribute to its unique atmosphere. The Continental Hotel, for example, is more than just a setting; it represents a safe haven with strict rules that assassins must follow. The High Table, as the governing body of this underworld, plays a significant role in the series’ conflicts. Familiarity with these elements enriches the viewing experience of John Wick 4.

Mythological References

The films are filled with mythological and cultural references that add layers of meaning to the story. Understanding these references and their significance within the John Wick universe enhances the appreciation of the narrative’s depth and complexity.

9. Cultural Impact and Fandom

The John Wick series has had a significant cultural impact, garnering a dedicated fanbase and influencing the action genre. Watching the earlier films allows viewers to fully engage with this cultural phenomenon.

Fan Theories and Speculations

The series has inspired numerous fan theories and speculations about characters, plotlines, and future developments. Engaging with the earlier films allows viewers to participate in these discussions and appreciate the series’ impact on popular culture.

Shared Viewing Experience

Watching the previous John Wick films provides a shared viewing experience with other fans. It allows viewers to connect with the fandom, engage in discussions, and share insights and interpretations. This communal aspect enhances the enjoyment of John Wick 4.


In conclusion, watching the earlier John Wick films is highly recommended before diving into John Wick 4. The backstory, character development, plot progression, thematic consistency, action choreography, emotional investment, introduction to new characters, appreciation of lore and mythology, and cultural impact all contribute to a richer and more fulfilling viewing experience. While it is possible to enjoy John Wick 4 as a standalone film, the depth and complexity of the series are best appreciated with the full context provided by the previous installments.

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