The John Wick movies have always emphasized style over realism. Keanu Reeves‘ title character is an unstoppable killing machine, there’s a world of assassins collecting shiny gold coins right out in the open, and Lawrence Fishburne has a pigeon army. The events of the films are largely based in New York City, but there’s an other-worldly quality to the story that a new viral fan theory suggests might be very intentional, and not just because it looks cool as hell.
If you’ve ever sat through a movie and thought, “This is like watching someone play a video game,” Redditor u/mantaraypreviouslife has taken that idea and run with it when it comes to the John Wick universe, and they might actually be onto something. Granted, even the Marvel movies can feel like a cutscene straight out of a console, there are very specific elements to the flow of the Wick films that closely resemble progressing through a video game.
As u/mantaraypreviouslife notes, Wick plows through mostly generic non-player characters (NPCs) before progressing to an “end stage boss who is usually more difficult.” While that’s not entirely uncommon for action films, there is very little dialogue spoken during the gun battles, and generally conversations take place either before or after the fights, not unlike a video game cutscene. The plot thickens even further when you realize that as John Wick does his “John Wicking,” his injuries barely even register.
“It is as if he is picking up health packs along the way,” the Redditor wrote, suggesting a common video game tool might be at play here. “He shouldn’t be walking, let alone fighting after getting stabbed, cut, sliced and shot.”
Again, these could just be action movie tropes taken to extremes, but the video game theory gains even more traction when it comes to the gold coins used by The High Table, the assassin’s guild that Wick has been systematically shoot-punching his way through for three films and counting. Not only are the coins a potential reference to Super Mario Bros., but they’re used exactly like in-game currency to purchase health, upgrades, and essentially save points for Wick at The Continental, which acts as a “shop/game admin area.”
As for why the filmmakers would secretly set the story inside a video game, u/mantaraypreviouslife takes his theory to the next level by speculating that it won’t stay secret for long, specifically to Wick himself:
Future John Wick films will progress the story plot of John Wick realising he is a person controlled character in a video game and him trying to fight/shoot his way out of it to take revenge on the game creator(s) who created his wife and her death.
If that sounds like a Matrix-y twist, u/mantaraypreviouslife admits that he’d love it if the John Wick world was one of the numerous simulations designed by the Architect and the Merovingian. While that scenario is probably not happening, the video game theory still tracks, so it’ll be very interesting to see if John Wick 4 will offer up more clues to support it.