How John Wick Movies Represent 5 Stages Of Grief

Do the Wick films offer a deeper look at processing grief?

John Wick
Summit Entertainment

John Wick, the beloved mass-murdering gun for hire dog fan, is now a staple of action films the world over. Combining thrilling set pieces, inspired cinematography, and a so-stupid-it’s-brilliant lore, the Wick films offer a cathartic escape from the abundance of squeaky clean superhero offerings we’ve had in recent years.

But, what if there's more to them than meets the eye? Note, there are spoilers below.

On the surface, the Wick series appears to be tenuous plot threads stapled together with bullets, grunting, and a whole lot of old man judo. Yet over at Reddit user u/coces posits that the series covers the five stages of grief, pedantically known as the Kübler-Ross model.


For those unfamiliar with the concept, the five stages of grief are denial/isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. u/coces speculates that the first three movies follow the pattern.

Denial/Isolation: John Wick finds our titular character locked away from the world, stoically going from one day to another in true Keanu Reeves fashion, following the death of his wife from an unnamed terminal illness. The house in which Wick lives remains unchanged, as though he believes his wife may return.


Anger: Chapter 2 finds Wick forced back into the distinguished career he once escaped. Whereas revenge was the dish of the first film, Chapter 2 culminates with Wick executing the movie's antagonist in a moment of blind anger. This results in Wick receiving a rather large bounty on his head and going on the run.

Bargaining: Chapter 3 - Parabellum follows Wick directly from Chapter 2. Outgunned, outplayed, and out of luck Wick must bargain with his old connections, seeking help to stay alive. Wick also ends up on a pilgrimage to find the mythical High Table, offering his life in service so that he may live to remember his wife.


That leaves depression and acceptance. We know John Wick 4 has already been greenlit and will be released in May 2021, possibly covering an arc in which depression, whether that be from grief or betrayal, will take centre stage. What we don’t know is whether there will be a fifth Wick film. “Keanu [Reeves] and I have never, from one to two, two to three, ever expected to do a sequel or a follow-up,” director Chad Stahelski told IndieWire in an interview.

So, do you think the Wick films give a deeper insight into processing grief or do we all have too much time on our hands? Let us know in the comments below.


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