John Wick (retroactively known as John Wick: Chapter 1) is a 2014 American neo-noir action-thriller film directed by Chad Stahelski, in his directorial debut, and written by Derek Kolstad. It stars Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Adrianne Palicki, Bridget Moynahan, Dean Winters, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, and Willem Dafoe. It is the first installment in the John Wick film series.
The story focuses on John Wick (Reeves) searching for the men who broke into his home, stole his vintage car, and killed his puppy, which was the last gift to him from his recently deceased wife. Chad Stahelski and David Leitch directed the film together, though only Stahelski was credited.
Kolstad had completed the screenplay in 2012 and further developed it for Thunder Road Pictures. The film was produced by Basil Iwanyk of Thunder Road Pictures, Leitch, Eva Longoria, and Michael Witherill. It marks Stahelski and Leitch's directorial debut as a team after multiple separate credits as second-unit directors and stunt coordinators. They previously worked with Reeves as stunt doubles on The Matrix trilogy.
Stahelski and Leitch's approach to fight scenes drew upon their admiration for anime and martial arts films. The film used fight choreographers and gun-fu techniques from Hong Kong action cinema. The film also pays homage to works such as John Woo's The Killer, Jean-Pierre Melville's Le Cercle Rouge and Le Samouraï, John Boorman's Point Blank, and the Spaghetti Western films.
The film was met with positive reviews, with critics labeling it as one of Reeves's best performances and one of the best action films of 2014. It grossed $86 million worldwide against a production budget of $20–30 million. Two sequels, John Wick: Chapter 2, and John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, released in 2017 and May 2019 respectively, both met with comparable critical and commercial success, with another sequel, John Wick: Chapter 4, set for a May 2022 release and an untitled fifth film following that.
John Wick loses his wife Helen to a terminal illness. Struggling to cope with her loss, he receives a beagle puppy named Daisy from her before she died, to help him cope with his grief. Despite John's stoic demeanor, he bonds with the puppy and they spend their day driving around in his vintage 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1. At a gas station, he encounters a trio of Russian gangsters whose leader Iosef insists on buying his car, which John refuses to sell. That evening the gangsters break into John's home, knock him unconscious, steal his car, and kill Daisy.
Iosef takes the Mustang to a chop shop to have the VIN changed. Aurelio, the shop's owner, recognizes the car and deduces who it was stolen from. He punches Iosef and throws him out. Aurelio is visited by John, who identifies Iosef as the son of Viggo Tarasov, the head of the Russian crime syndicate in New York City. Aurelio relays Iosef's activities to Viggo, who beats and berates Iosef before explaining to him who John Wick is: a famed assassin, formerly in Viggo's employ, nicknamed "Baba Yaga". When John wanted to retire and marry Helen, Viggo gave him an "impossible task," implied to involve multiple high-level assassinations in a short period. John succeeded, and his efforts were key in establishing the Tarasov syndicate. After warning Iosef of his impending doom, Viggo tries to talk John out of seeking retribution, but John refuses to even talk. Viggo sends a team of hitmen to John's house, but John kills all of them and enlists an underworld cleaning service to dispose of the bodies and evidence.
Unsurprised, Viggo places a $2 million bounty on John's head and personally offers the contract to John's mentor, Marcus, who accepts. John seeks assistance from the New York Continental Hotel, which caters exclusively to the criminal underworld and permits no assassinations on its premises. Viggo doubles the bounty for those willing to break this rule to kill John. Winston, the Continental's manager, informs John that Viggo has Iosef under guard at his nightclub, the Red Circle. John enters the Red Circle and kills a horde of thugs to reach Iosef, who narrowly escapes after Viggo's lieutenant Kirill manages to incapacitate John. John retreats to the Continental to have his injuries treated. Ms. Perkins, an assassin and former acquaintance, sneaks into John's room to kill him. Marcus alerts John, allowing him to subdue Perkins, who is forced to reveal the location of Viggo's front. He knocks her unconscious and leaves her with Harry, a fellow assassin, to await punishment, but she frees herself and kills Harry. John travels to a church in Little Russia which serves as Viggo's front and destroys his cache of money and blackmail material. When Viggo and his henchmen arrive, John ambushes them, but he is subdued and captured. Viggo taunts John for thinking he would be able to leave his old life behind. Before John can be killed, Marcus intervenes again, allowing John to free himself, kill Kirill, and accost Viggo, who reveals Iosef's location. John then travels to Iosef's safe house and kills him and his bodyguards.