All Four ‘John Wick’ Movies, Ranked

After four incredibly strong entries released during the past decade, now’s probably a safe time to label the John Wick series as one of the best in the history of American action cinema. That hopefully doesn’t sound too hyperbolic because it’s undeniably impressive how effectively the series has continually built its world and escalated the scale of its action throughout four films. What began as a simple yet satisfying revenge movie developed into something greater, becoming a unique action/crime epic that maintained its own identity while liberally borrowing from great action movies of old.


It’s a surprisingly consistent series, all things considered, and it’s easy to make a case for any of the four movies set within the John Wick universe so far being the best. Still, there can only be one victor among the bunch, and what follows is a potentially disagreeable but hopefully understandable ranking of those four movies. The main thing to note is that all are very good in their own ways, and any action fans who’ve somehow avoided the series so far owe it to themselves to get immersed in this Keanu Reeves-led action/crime/revenge saga.


4 ‘John Wick’ (2014)

The one that started it all

John Wick looking up with an angry expression in Jon Wick.
Image via Lionsgate

2014’s John Wick started it all, but at the time of release, it felt like a genuinely surprising hit, only giving hints of what the series would eventually become. It kept its story personal and fairly small-scale, all things considered, with its main premise following an ex-hitman on a rampage of revenge after some gangsters kill his dog and steal his car. Its simplicity is its greatest strength, and to its credit, the movie is also a little more intricate than the core premise suggests, given what the dog is shown to represent for John.

It’s the only John Wick film to clock in at under two hours and also feels a little more low-budget than the others, with both factors making it stand out from its eventual sequels. As far as the narrative is concerned, the original John Wick might well have the most compact and satisfying story. But as far as action scenes go, its sequels do ultimately end up topping it, though it’s worth noting this movie expertly sows seeds surrounding a vast criminal underworld that gets fleshed out and properly explored later in the film series. John Wick revitalized Reeves’ career and launched director Chad Stahelski into the big leagues, birthing a cinematic event that would come to define the 2010s as a whole.

John Wick Film Poster

John Wick

Release Date
October 24, 2014

Runtime
101 minutes

Watch on Netflix

3 ‘John Wick: Chapter 2’ (2017)

A worthy follow-up

John Wick fighting another man in John Wick Chapter 2.
Image via Lionsgate

Even though the first movie in the John Wick series was mostly concerned with the title character’s quest for vengeance, it managed to do some impressive world-building in its limited runtime. This largely came about because of The Continental, a hotel for assassins and hitmen like John Wick to seek refuge. It also hinted at the idea that there were plenty of other people out there similar to John Wick. Soon, it became clear that the world these movies took place in had plenty of criminal organizations, brutally efficient assassins, and other shady characters willing to follow a unique code of honor during their otherwise illegal escapades.

The seeds sown in the first movie sprout in John Wick: Chapter 2, which features similarly exciting action to the first movie but takes it to eleven, broadening the series’ scope. Here, John has to contend with a large bounty placed on his head, which naturally sends plenty of other deadly characters his way. Right from the start, it establishes how the John Wick sequels are going to get a little sillier and over-the-top. For example, John Wick: Chapter 2 features footage from a Buster Keaton movie and isn’t afraid to experiment with its characters and lore. It also ends with a fantastic cliffhanger that expertly sets up even better sequels to come. And, while this does make it feel somewhat like a transitory entry, John Wick 2 remains a worthy follow-up that successfully kept the hype train going.

john-wick-2-poster-new

John Wick: Chapter 2

Release Date
February 8, 2017

Runtime
122

Watch on Netflix

2 ‘John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum’ (2019)

The turning point

Sofia Al-Azwar aiming a gun somewhere off-camera in John Wick 3
Image via Lionsgate

Thanks to the second movie’s ending, 2019’s John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum can hit the ground running, and it hardly lets up for its entire 130-minute duration. Admittedly, it’s perhaps a movie that peaks with its opening act, which takes place immediately after the second film’s cliffhanger conclusion. John Wick is up against what feels like an army of rival assassins who want to claim the massive bounty on his head, and it leads to one ludicrously entertaining action setpiece after another.

The action becomes slightly less relentless after the first half-hour or so, but there are still plenty of large-scale sequences to enjoy after the first act is over. There’s a memorable sequence involving Wick teaming up with Halle Berry‘s character and her two attack dogs, and then all the action towards its climax delivers an impressive level of spectacle, too. Parabellum is among the best over-the-top action movies of the 2010s, yet it never feels exhausting or nonsensical. The increase in scope and dynamism surprisingly makes the third John Wick even better than the first two. Like the series’ second installment, John Wick: Chapter 3 also concludes with a dramatic ending that leaves viewers instantly craving a fourth movie.

john-wick-chapter-3-poster-new

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

Release Date
May 15, 2019

Runtime
143

Watch on Netflix

1 ‘John Wick: Chapter 4’ (2023)

The perfect ending… or is it?

Bill Skarsgård as the Marquis de Gramont in John Wick Chapter 4
Image via Lionsgate

Somehow, Reeves, the supporting cast, and director Chad Stahelski pulled off the impossible: the fourth and most recent movie in the John Wick series, by some miracle, is its best. Sure, it’s very long; many of its scenes are borderline silly because of how over-the-top they get, and it comes dangerously close to stumbling into self-parody. Yet it walks the line between cool and ridiculous so effectively that its charms prove impossible to resist, and similarly irresistible are the massive action sequences, all of which need to be seen to be believed.

John Wick: Chapter 4 is among the best action movies of 2023. It’s an explosive and epic story that pits John against his most dangerous enemy yet, a scene-stealing Bill Skarsgård chewing scenery left and right. The film uses its gargantuan runtime (just 11 minutes shy of three hours) to tell a huge story and mount numerous action sequences that already feel iconic. The hype ought to be believed here. The fourth John Wick is the best in the series, a massive triumph, ridiculous and over-the-top yet fully faithful to its own rules. It delivers a villain worthy of the best action franchises and cements the titular character as an icon on par with Jones, McClane, and Ripley. Also, it needs to be seen for its relentless final act alone, given that the final hour features one glorious action sequence after another, all building to a tense and fitting climax.

Watch on Starz

NEXT: The 13 Best Action Heroes of All Time, According to Letterboxd

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