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The Best Shootouts In The John Wick Series Ranked

From fist fights to sword fights to, of course, gun fights, the "John Wick" series is packed with exciting action sequences. The intricately choreographed shootouts are always filmed with utmost clarity, and performed with total physical commitment from star Keanu Reeves and his featured cohorts, including the likes of Halle Berry and Common. As a result, the "John Wick" movies breathed new life into the mid-scale shoot 'em up, and helped usher in industry-wide changes to action filmmaking. It also spawned a wave of imitators and knock-offs, as covered brilliantly in a series retrospective by YouTuber Rossatron.

Keanu Reeves' intense training regimen for each film pays off big time on screen, as does director Chad Stahelski's decades of experience as a stunt man and action coordinator. "John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum" featured an increased emphasis on martial arts and bladed combat, but this ranking will focus exclusively on the series' gun-centric action sequences.

With the fourth chapter in the "John Wick" saga fast approaching, and with spin-offs like the "Continental" TV series and the "Ballerina" movie on the way, now is the perfect time to look back at all of the shootouts from the first three chapters of the "John Wick" series and rank them from least to most exciting.

16. The parking lot — John Wick

This shootout from the first "John Wick" movie finds John trying and failing to kill Viggo, played by Michael Nyvist. After breaking into Viggo's money laundering operation and burning down his stockpile of cash, John successfully draws Viggo out into the open. He manages to take out several of Viggo's thugs while switching between an assault rifle and his trusty handgun, but all does not go according to plan for Mr. Wick. Viggo's top enforcer, Kirill (Daniel Bernhardt), rams a vehicle into a parked SUV, launching John off his feet and knocking him unconscious. When he comes to, he's bound to a chair awaiting execution until Marcus (Willem Dafoe) steps in and saves him.

Though there are still a few fun moments in this sequence, and while it's a refreshing change of pace to see John fail for once, the parking lot shootout isn't one of the series' most memorable action scenes. It's one of the shortest shootouts in the franchise, lasting for about one minute. The rather nondescript location doesn't do this scene any favors, either.

15. Killing Iosef — John Wick

Iosef, played by "Game of Thrones" alum Alfie Allen, was the punk who broke into John Wick's home, knocked him unconscious, stole his car, and killed his dog. He is John's primary target in the first film, at least until Iosef's father crosses the line and kills John's mentor, Marcus.

Iosef's death is what the entire film builds to. Earlier, John was seconds away from taking out Iosef in the Red Circle nightclub, but slipped up and let him get away. So, when John has a second shot at Iosef, he doesn't hesitate. He dispassionately guns Iosef down, executing him with a bullet through the head while he's mid-sentence.

The speed and simplicity with which John kills Iosef might not have been the most cathartic way to exact his revenge, but it does speak to John's ruthlessness, efficiency, and professionalism. This scene also features the only time in the series that John uses a sniper rifle to take out his opponents. He makes use of planted explosives as well, but the sequence is over too quickly to make much of an impact.

14. Car-fu — John Wick

The term "kung fu" usually refers to a specific style of martial arts, but it can also be used to describe the preparation and mastery of any other physical feat or activity. Director Chad Stahelski often uses the symbolic meaning of kung fu as a portmanteau when discussing the various types of action in the "John Wick" series. For example, an action scene involving dogs or horses utilizes "dog-fu" or "horse-fu," respectively. The same applies to vehicular combat: "car-fu."

Towards the end of the first "John Wick," the titular character makes use of a handgun and a sports car simultaneously, wielding both as weapons. Whether he's gunning people down while drifting around them or reversing into them and shooting through the roof as they roll across it, John's driving and shooting go hand in hand.

This sequence is full of memorable moments and pays off the opening airfield sequence, which established John as a skilled driver from the very beginning. John's driving abilities were further explored in the opening of "John Wick: Chapter 2," but that sequence remained strictly vehicle-centric, without any guns in the mix.

13. Horse-fu — John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

One of the third film's biggest overall contributions to the "John Wick" franchise was the introduction of animal-based combat. This focus on animals in action sequences begins early in "Chapter 3" when John finds himself fleeing through a horse stable, and continues later on with Sofia's two attack dogs.

Throughout most of this fight, only the bad guys have guns, but it becomes a proper shootout once John is on horseback and gets his hands on one of his adversaries' pistols. Seeing John ride through the streets of New York atop a horse while exchanging gunfire with men on motorcycles is the kind of fun, over-the-top spectacle that only the "John Wick" series can deliver.

Even before John is on horseback, the sequence is full of great horse-related action gags. From John getting horses to kick his opponents in the head to wrapping the reins around one adversary's neck and dragging him along the ground, this is a truly unique action scene.

12. The Motorcycle Swordfight — John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

One of the most striking action sequences in "John Wick: Chapter 3" is the motorcycle chase that finds John fighting six shinobi assassins while speeding along the Verrazano Bridge. John begins the conflict armed with a handgun, but swaps it out for one of his enemies' swords after running out of bullets. The spectacle of a sword fight on top of speeding motorcycles is sure to get anyone's adrenaline pumping.

This unique setup might seem like the first of its kind, but it actually isn't. The South Korean film "The Villainess" pulled off a speeding motorcycle sword fight in 2017, two years before "John Wick: Chapter 3" debuted. Rather than being any kind of rip off, it seems likely that "Chapter 3" was simply pulling inspiration from "The Villainess," or maybe even paying homage to it. 

To be frank, the team behind "The Villainess" didn't just do the motorcycle sword fight first. It also did it better, marking the rare occasion when the action in "John Wick" falls just a little bit short of its contemporaries. That holds this shootout back a bit in the ranking. Even still, this is an exciting and memorable action sequence that really only suffers in comparison, not in isolation.

11. The Assassin Montage — John Wick: Chapter 2

After John completes the assassination required to repay his marker, Santino D'Antonio stabs him in the back in order to earn a seat at the High Table. The proprietor of the New York Continental, Winston (Ian McShane), warns D'Antonio against putting a hit out on John, but begrudgingly accepts the contract regardless. This puts a target on John's head as assassins all over the city attempt to collect his bounty.

Rather than seeing the various killers attack John one at a time, viewers are treated to a montage of three different assassination attempts. The first assassin is a violinist (played by Chad Stahelski's wife at the time, Heidi Moneymaker, who also served as Ruby Rose's stunt double) who manages to successfully shoot John in the stomach. The second is a sumo-sized opponent who shrugs off bullets like they're nothing. The third and fourth are a pair of assassins who John is forced to dispatch with nothing more than a pencil.

While containing some of the goriest moments in the entire series, the pencil kills also shows John living up to his legendary reputation, replicating a notorious story about Mr. Wick that was established in the first "John Wick" movie. The editing really shines in this montage, allowing three distinct action scenes to come together as one cohesive whole.

10. The Antique Weapons Museum — John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum

At the beginning of "John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum," John is on the run, attempting to make the most of the one-hour head start that Winston gave him. After retrieving some stashed goods from a library and running afoul of the massive Ernest, played by the seven-foot-four NBA player Boban Marjanovic, John's time is up. Now, the whole city is after him.

As assassins close in from every direction, John flees through an antique weapons museum, making use of many of the weapons on display. With tight choreography, lots of variety, and several memorable kills, this is arguably one of the best action sequences in the entire franchise. The only thing that holds it back in our ranking is that it is far more knife-focused than gun-focused. There are guns, but they're mostly wielded by John's adversaries.

"Chapter 3" intentionally keeps a gun out of John's hands for an extended period of time, forcing him to find other ways to defend himself. It also builds anticipation for when he does finally return to classic shoot 'em up territory, as exemplified in the previous two films. Though he mostly uses knives here (although he does handle an axe at one point), there's a great moment when John assembles a working revolver out of the pieces of multiple display guns and manages to squeeze off a single headshot before moving on.

9. Cassian — John Wick: Chapter 2

Though they share a professional respect for one another, John Wick and Cassian (Common) become mortal enemies after John assassinates Gianna D'Antonio, who Cassian was sworn to protect. While most of the action sequences in the "John Wick" series feature John going up against dozens of enemies by himself, his duels with Cassian offers a refreshing change of pace. In Cassian, John finally finds an opponent who can hold his own in one-on-one combat. Whether fighting unarmed, with blades, or with guns, the two are similarly skilled. They even both have bulletproof suits, leveling the playing field. 

The first throwdown between John and Cassian occurs in Italy immediately following Gianna's assassination. A one versus one shootout rages along cobblestone streets before the pair comically tumble down a massive series of steps and engage in close-quarters combat. Finally, they crash straight through the window of the Italian Continental, ending up in a stalemate.

John and Cassian square off once more before the end of "Chapter 2," this time in New York City. After exchanging silenced gunfire without oblivious NYC citizens noticing, they progress into the subway, where their fight concludes in a brawl. The end of their second confrontation is more conclusive, with John coming out as the clear victor, but Cassian is left alive and could potentially return at some point in the franchise's future.

8. Home invasion — John Wick

The first big blast of action in the "John Wick" series arrives when John fights back against the hit squad sent to his home. After an opening act that sets up John's retirement, establishes his status as a legendary hitman, and gives him a strong motivation for revenge, the series' first shootout surpasses all expectations, setting the standard for the quality of the franchise's action beats moving forward.

From the very first moment, it's clear why everyone in the assassin world respects and fears John Wick, the Baba Yaga. This is the only shootout that takes place on John's home turf, and he makes the most out of his knowledge of the layout of the house, shooting through walls, leaping over railings, and breaking a thug's neck after flipping him onto the kitchen island. 

Though he dispatches several armed intruders with relative ease, this action sequence still takes the time to establish one the series' key features: John isn't infallible. Despite everything, he's still human. While taking out his last opponent, John struggles and grows tired, which prevents him from feeling like an unstoppable killing machine who'll breeze through the entire movie without facing any difficulties.

7. The Concert — John Wick: Chapter 2

After stealthily making his way into Gianna D'Antonio's private chambers, John Wick successfully assassinates the crime boss and High Table member, fulfilling his end of the marker. His plan is to flee through the catacombs below the streets of Rome, where he has planted a number of weapons. However, to get there he first needs to make his way through a crowded concert that quickly becomes a firefight. Notably, the band performing on stage is Nostalghia, which contributed two tunes to the film's soundtrack, and which had a song featured in the first "John Wick" as well.

The moment when John kills a man while on stage and receives thunderous applause from the audience, which mistakes the slaying for part of the show, is a highlight of both this action sequence and the entire film. It perfectly suits the exaggerated reality of the "John Wick" movies, and makes for a moment that is simultaneously cool and comedic. This shootout progresses from backstage, to center stage, into the packed audience, and through crumbling ruins that have been turned into an art piece before John finally makes it into the catacombs.

Overall, this shootout feels like a direct throwback to the Red Circle sequence in the first movie, during which John killed a number of thugs on a crowded dance floor. As is often the case with sequels, this concert ups the ante with a larger crowd and a more formidable body count.

6. Reflections of the Soul — John Wick: Chapter 2

The final shootout of "John Wick: Chapter 2" takes place at the "Reflections of the Soul" exhibit at an NYC art museum, though the real filming location was the Galleria Nazionale Arte Moderna in Rome. This last gunfight occurs directly after an extended shootout throughout the rest of the museum, with John in pursuit of Mafia boss Santino D'Antonio.

Things slow down once John enters the hall of shifting mirrors. The various reflections and the layout of this maze-like location are incorporated well into the fight choreography, and there are great gags spread throughout, like John calculating the trajectory of numerous reflections in order to score a headshot, or John leaping through a wall of mirrors to tackle a thug.

This shootout's body count is relatively low when compared to those of the movie's other gunfights, but the stakes remain high thanks to John's opponents, who are tougher than the standard-issue goons he's fought thus far. For example, these villains are armed with tactical assault rifles instead of pistols. This shootout also leads directly into John's one-on-one fight against Santino's mute bodyguard, Ares, who's played by Ruby Rose.

5. Red Circle nightclub — John Wick

The highlight of the first "John Wick" movie is undoubtedly the Red Circle nightclub shootout. This is the longest action scene in the movie, features the highest body count and the most variety, and feels like the true centerpiece of the film. Everything else seems built around it.

While tracking down Iosef, John learns that his prey has been sequestered in the heavily guarded Red Circle nightclub. After generously sparing the guard at the door, John makes his way through the nightclub's lower level, quietly taking out thugs until he finds Iosef in the bathhouse. John has the chance to take Iosef out from a distance, but makes a misstep when he decides to get up close and personal, giving Iosef the chance to slip away. This prolonged shootout then progresses from the bathhouse to the dance floor, and the action is non-stop the entire time.

The end of this sequence finds John going up against Viggo's top thug, Kirill (Daniel Bernhardt), for the first time. Kirill is the goon who throws John off the balcony, knocks him unconscious in the car crash, and has an extended fight scene with John after he's been captured.

4. Dog-fu — John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum

The horse-fu in the opening act of "John Wick: Chapter 3" is exciting enough, but the introduction of dog-fu later in the film ups the ante significantly. After John travels overseas and enlists the help of Sofia (Halle Berry), a gunfight erupts in the black market of Casablanca.

Halle Berry's physical performance here is tremendously impressive. She underwent several months of training prior to shooting, and her dedication is plain to see on the screen. John Wick has his share of fun action moments in this sequence as well, such as using a handgun and knife simultaneously or racing against two thugs to see who can reload and shoot first.

But the real stars of this sequence are Sofia's two Belgian Malinois attack dogs. Like the scene's two human leads, the dogs underwent extensive training in order to accurately and safely pull off all of the stunts needed for the sequence. The results are jaw-dropping, and are unlike anything that had ever been put to screen before.

3. The Catacombs — John Wick: Chapter 2

While in Italy to fulfill his deal with Santino D'Antonio, John assassinates Gianna and flees through a crowded concert into the catacombs beneath the streets of Rome. Before executing the hit, John stashed weapons and ammunition all throughout the catacombs in case he was pursued or double-crossed. He was correct to take such precautions. Not only do Gianna's guards pursue him from behind, but Santino D'Antonio's thugs are coming after him as well.

This shootout is one of the most visually interesting of the series, as it uses the dark, misty catacombs and the bouncing flashlight beams of John's enemies to color and light the scene without losing any of the clarity that the action in the "John Wick" series is praised for. The catacombs shootout is also one of the most varied action sequences of the entire franchise, as John is forced to switch between his trusty handgun, a thunderous shotgun, and a precise assault rifle as he maneuvers through the tight passages and runs through all of his planted ammunition.

2. Heavy Armor — John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum

While the last two action sequences in "John Wick: Chapter 3" both unfold without guns — a two-on-one fight against shinobi, followed by a one-on-one sword fight against Zero (Mark Dacascos) — "Parabellum" delivers a climactic gunfight as well. Though this shootout fits into the typical mold for the series — it features John facing off against dozens of adversaries — it switches up the formula in two key ways. The first is that this shootout takes place in the Continental, the one place in the John Wick universe where violence must never occur. The second change is the heavy suits of armor worn by John's opponents.

By this point in the trilogy, John has dispatched hundreds of unarmored opponents, but he has never fought adversaries outfitted with such heavy protection. This shootout is great not just because of the excellent choreography, but also because of the way that it changes the very rules of the gunfight. Headshots are no longer an option for Mr. Wick, so he needs to get up close and give it his all to take out even a single one of these tank-like opponents. These enemies are completely bulletproof and seem nearly indestructible, forcing John to get both creative and excessive in the ways he doles out bloodshed.

1. The Museum — John Wick: Chapter 2

The most exciting action sequence of the entire "John Wick" series so far is the museum shootout from "Chapter 2." This shootout arrives towards the end of the second film as John is closing in on Santino D'Antonio after the contract on his own head has gone live. Following his visit with the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne), John is given a pistol with just seven bullets, each of which costs $1 million; in total, they're equal to the $7 million contract on his life. This sets up high expectations for how John will use those seven bullets, and that he immediately uses all seven to score headshots before switching to another firearm is both perfectly on-brand for Mr. Wick and also makes for one incredibly exciting moment.

What follows is a prolonged shootout that unfolds throughout the museum, finally segueing into the "Reflections of the Soul" exhibit, where the film's final shootout takes place. The museum's various displays and art pieces provide a stunning backdrop for the action on display, and this shootout features some of the trilogy's tightest and most thrilling choreography. In a series packed with incredible shootouts, the museum fight comes out on top.