Keanu Reeves as John Wick, retired assassin out for revenge
New York City, Spring 2014
Film: John Wick
Release Date: October 24, 2014
Director: Chad Stehelski
Costume Designer: Luca Mosca
Rarely have I ever received such overwhelming demand for a post as I had for John Wick… and I hadn’t even heard of the film before February! Somehow this flick missed my radar completely (the concussion in January didn’t help). Granted, the only movie I’ve managed to see in theaters since last summer was Birdman, but still I tend to be aware of badass action movies upon their release. Thankfully, the badasses who comment on this blog brought it to my attention and now we all have Craig, Aaron, and gunner to thank for this post!
Any preconceived notions I may have had about Keanu Reeves were tossed – or, rather, violently thrown – out the window after seeing him take out approximately 80 bad guys with advanced weaponry and tactics, all while wearing a sharp suit and driving a beautiful example of automotive American muscle.
Not only did Keanu perform about 90% of his own stunts in the movie (which few actors do even in a non-action drama flick these days), but he supposedly learned, memorized, and performed the insane nightclub fight sequence all in the day it was filmed… while running a 104° fever.
So if you’re tired of hearing about all the Fifty Shades of Grey crap and want to watch a real man literally wearing multiple shades of gray without having to tie up some poor woman, here you go.
What’d He Wear?
Although John Wick is one of the more emotional hired killers to grace the big screen lately, you’d never know it to look at his slick, monochromatic color palette. Once he begins his puppy-driven revenge, he wears only a sharp dark gray lightweight wool three-piece suit custom-made for him by costume designer Luca Mosca.
(Wick also wears a brown leather jacket and jeans earlier in the film, but we’ll get to that in a later post.)
The single-breasted suit jacket has slim notch lapels that nicely roll down the front of the jacket to the 2-button front. The lapels have edge stitching and the left lapel is graced by a buttonhole.
Wick’s suit jacket also has a welted breast pocket and straight flapped hip pockets. There are four buttons on each cuff of the same black plastic as the front buttons. The jacket is nicely fitted with natural shoulders, roped sleeveheads, and double rear vents that allow Wick quick access to his holsters underneath.
The suit is indeed a three-piece, but Wick only wears the vest for a few early scenes. Wick’s vest (or waistcoat) is a very modern low-fastening style with just four buttons to close, revealing much of the chest and tie beneath it. It is single-breasted with no lapels and two lower welted pockets. The notched bottom is small but high enough that Wick is able to keep his bottom buttoned fastened without sacrificing mobility.
The suit’s matching flat front trousers rise low on his waist, but still high enough that the vest keeps his waist line covered. The side pockets are slightly slanted, and both rear pockets are jetted with a single button each to close. The fit through the leg is comfortable but straight, ending at plain-hemmed bottoms that break high over his shoes. The last thing an action hero needs is to trip over his own pants when leaping over a table during a gunfight in a Russian nightclub. (Plus, a short break allows easy access to an ankle holster!)
As we see in an EXTREME CLOSE-UP when Wick prepares for battle, the trousers have belt loops, through which he wears a solid black leather belt with a well-shined silver square buckle.
We know the belt must be solid leather, as it manages to hold Wick’s multitude of holsters and pouches as he goes ballistic (pun) on the local Russian mob. His primary holster is a black leather slide holster worn through the right rear portion of his belt, holding his Heckler & Koch P30L pistol.
The P30L’s two magazines are held in a double carrier on the opposing side of his waist, also in his belt. The positioning of his pistol for a strong side draw and magazines on the left side are wise for someone employing C.A.R. shooting and reloading tactics, which I’ll get into below.
Like many action heroes, Wick wisely carries a backup pistol. He opts for the subcompact Glock 26, carried in a black IWB holster just above the left rear pocket of his trousers.
Jewelry-wise, Wick doesn’t go in for much. He wears his stainless wedding band on the third finger of his left hand, a memento of the wife he loved so dearly. Otherwise, his only accessory is a Carl F. Bucherer Manero AutoDate, worn on the inside of his left wrist. Chad Stahelski, the film’s primary director, mentioned that this military style was often adopted to protect the timepiece, and it thus seemed appropriate for a hitman like Wick. At a going rate of $3,495, it’s no wonder that Wick would want to protect it.
Lee, a commenter, adds that the tactical decision to wear a watch inside reduces glare that would compromise the wearer’s position as well as offering the opportunity to view the wristwatch with a weapon drawn for synchronization.
Wick’s Manero AutoDate consists of a 42mm stainless case with a scratch resistant, anti-reflective sapphire crystal and a transparent sapphire back. The dial is white with silver-toned luminescent hands and markers and a 3:00-position date. The strap is black alligator leather.
Wick’s preference for black leather accessories extends to his feet, where he wears a pair of black calfskin cap toe bluchers with three eyelets and squared toes. A pair of thick black cotton dress socks keeps the whole black theme going.
Update! Thanks to Craig, we also know that Wick’s knife is a Microtech Ultratech OTF.
Shirts and Ties
All of Wick’s shirts are similarly styled and probably came from the same manufacturer… although I’m not quite sure which one. They all have moderately spread collars, French cuffs, a narrow front placket, and no breast pocket. The rear of each shirt has two side darts.
The first shirt he wears on his kill-crazy revenge trip is dark gray metallic, just a shade lighter than the suit. He pairs it with a similarly contrasting dark gray ribbed silk tie. Unlike denim, pairing multiple shades of a dark color works nicely with gray, and Wick plays it perfectly. He fastens the double cuffs of the dark gray shirt with silver and black squared cuff links.
For his foray into the nightclub, Wick wears a plain white dress shirt and a solid black silk tie. The white shirt’s double cuffs are worn with another pair of silver and black squared cuff links.
Due to the lighting in the scene and the contrast of white vs. gray, some have speculated that he wears a black suit for this scene – thus channeling the popular Reservoir Dogs/Pulp Fiction look, but this is incorrect… it is the same suit, just sans waistcoat.
The next day, Wick goes into full assault mode. He’s not playing around anymore, and his black shirt shows that he means business… and his business is death. (I felt like I was designing a poster for a bad Dolph Lundgren movie as I wrote that. Maybe one where Dolph plays a violent, jaded office drone. Let’s get back to that.)
Wick contrasts the black shirt with a gray diagonally-ribbed Calvin Klein silk tie. The ribs fall in a left-down-to-right direction. How do I know it’s a Calvin Klein tie? A behind-the-scenes shot captured at a lucky angle shows the white rear loop with CK’s standard black lettering.
His cuff links with the black shirt appear to be silver diamond-studded rectangles with a mother-of-pearl center. I could be way off, of course.
Wick also wore the black shirt earlier to his wife’s funeral, that time paired with the solid black tie.
Some promotional photos and posters depict Wick wearing a black lightweight turtleneck jumper around this scene, but I don’t believe it appears in the finished film. I guess the turtleneck lobby lost this battle. (It’s okay, SPECTRE‘s got them covered.)
Wick’s preference for gray and black does not extend to his undergarments. In fact, his plain white cotton crew neck t-shirt and light blue cotton boxers are more reminiscent of Don Draper than Dolph Lundgren. (Yes, I know Don switches to white undershorts after the first episode, but that’s not the point I’m trying to make.)
Go Big or Go Home
After losing his classic Mustang to a gang of Russian thugs (more on that car in the upcoming leather jacket post), John Wick doesn’t throw in the towel and say, “Aw, to hell with a nice car. I’ll take a 2002 Corolla.” Instead, he sticks with strong American muscle, switching brands by getting into the driver’s seat of a slick black 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS396.
Ever the diplomat, Wick honors all three major American brands – Ford, GM, and Chrysler – when he hops into a black 2011 Dodge Charger sedan for the final act. Mopar fans may rejoice at the inclusion of a Dodge, but it would’ve been nice to see the ’68 Charger in Leguizamo’s chop shop get some action in.
Wick stays brand savvy with his choice of phones. Anyone out there with an iPhone 5S – you’re using the same smartphone of choice as a badass ex-killer.
In a film with a body count of 119, John Wick wisely mixes it up so we’re seeing more than just a lot of shooting – badass though the shooting may be. Keanu must have trained pretty damn hard for this, as he whips out some traditional jujutsu that certainly looks expert to a novice like myself. Much of his fighting method consists of head throws and arm throws, leading to more than a few of the 76 deaths caused by Wick’s own hand. (To save you all some math, that means 64% of the deaths in the movie are John Wick-inflicted.)
He does have a soft spot for some things, though. Unfortunately, being loved by John Wick isn’t a good sign for your future. Wife? Dead. Car? Stolen and chopped. Puppy? Well, I don’t even want to say. But it’s sad.
What to Imbibe
Not only is John Wick a connoisseur of clothing, combat, canines, and cars, but he also knows a thing or two about good whiskey. After the nightclub gunfight takes a lot out of him – including a lot of blood – Wick is getting stitched up by an underworld doctor. When the doctor asks if he needs any pain medication, Wick raises his glass of Blanton’s, indicating that he is just fine without the relatively lacking benefits of aspirin.
As a Bourbon drinker, I’ve found drinking Blanton’s to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my 25 years on Earth. Full and slightly citrusy with a hint of burnt vanilla, Blanton’s is a comfortable kick in the pants at 93 proof. The Original Single Barrel bottling is worth every bit of its $50 price tag, and it makes a great gift… especially for yourself.
How to Get the Look
- Dark gray lightweight wool bespoke suit, consisting of:
- Single-breasted suit coat with slim notch lapels, 2-button front, welted breast pocket, flapped hip pockets, 4-button cuffs, and double rear vents
- Single-breasted low-fastening vest/waistcoat with 4-button front, 2 welted lower pockets, and notched bottom
- Flat front low rise trousers with belt loops, slanted side pockets, button-through jetted rear pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms with short break
- Dark gray metallic dress shirt with moderate spread collar, narrow front placket, and double/French cuffs
- Dark gray ribbed silk Calvin Klein necktie
- Silver & black metal cuff links
- Black leather belt with silver-toned square clasp/buckle
- Black calfskin leather 3-eyelet squared cap toe bluchers
- Black thick cotton dress socks
- White cotton crew neck short-sleeve undershirt
- Light blue cotton boxer undershorts with elastic waistband
- Stainless wedding band, worn on left ring finger
- Carl F. Bucherer Manero AutoDate with stainless round case, white dial (with date), and black alligator leather strap, worn on inside of left wrist
- Black slide holster, worn on right rear, for full-size H&K pistol
- Black double magazine carrier, worn on left belt
- Black IWB holster, worn on left rear, for subcompact Glock pistol
John Wick’s primary handgun, the Heckler & Koch P30L fitted with a custom compensator, is a relative newcomer to the big screen. Unlike many pistols which have a compact variant of a full-size model, the P30L is actually a full-size variant of the more compact P30. Wick’s P30L is chambered in 9×19 mm Parabellum, as indicated on the barrel. He actually owns two, as seen when he heads into his subterranean arsenal after the attack on his home. He keeps his P30L holstered in a slide holster on the right rear side of his belt. (A commenter has suggested that this is possibly a Yaqui slide holster.)
The P30 was originally introduced in 2006 as an evolutionary descendant of H&K’s earlier USP and P2000 pistols. It was developed and marketed as the perfect police handgun, and the Zollkriminalamt (German Customs Investigation Bureau) kicked off a wave of European police adoption when it adopted the V6 variant, which uses a DAO system with a heavier trigger pull. Currently, police forces in Germany, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, and Switzerland have all begun using variants of the P30.
The P30 and P30L are both available in 9×19 mm and .40 S&W, carrying 15 and 13 rounds – respectively – in a lightweight 3.3 ounce box magazine. The P30L boasts a 0.5″ longer barrel (4.4″) than the P30, slightly increasing its overall length to 7.7″ and unloaded weight to 24.2 ounces. Like other H&K pistols, it has multiple variants (V0-V6) based on the action, trigger pull, and decocker.
Wick’s backup pistol is a subcompact Glock 26, also chambered in 9×19 mm. Wick keeps his Glock holstered in an IWB fastened into his left rear waistband. Like the P30L, he is also shown owning two of these pistols.
When he goes into full assault mode the day after the nightclub gunfight, Wick arms himself with a Coharie Arms CA-415 assault carbine, an American clone of the Heckler & Koch HK416. In turn, the HK416 had been inspired by the M4 Carbine, so this is essential a copy of a copy. Think #4 from Multiplicity. (Second Michael Keaton movie reference in this post!)
Like the P30L, the HK416 is relatively new, having only entered production in 2005 and first appearing in films with 2008’s Hancock. James Bond notably used a found HK416 D10RS while fending off Silva’s henchmen in the final act of Skyfall.
Similar to the HK416, the CA-415 takes STANAG magazines of 5.56×45 mm NATO ammunition, fired in either semi-automatic or fully automatic mode. Much information about the CA-415 comes from IMFDB, which places the overall length at 36.9″ with a 16.5″ barrel and total weight of 7.9 pounds. Wick’s model has a shorter barrel and is fitted with an EOTech 553 holographic sight and a vertical foregrip. A second Coharie weapon, the MP-10 submachine gun in 9×19 mm, makes a brief appearance in the hands of one of Viggo’s doomed thugs.
During the same gunfight, Wick commandeers one of the unique Kel-Tec KSG shotguns used by the thugs. The KSG is a very distinctive pump-action shotgun developed in 2011. Its double tube magazines under the single 18.5″ barrel give the weapon a total capacity of either twelve or fourteen 12-gauge shells… as well as the misconception that it is a double-barreled weapon.
The KSG shotguns seen in John Wick have EOTech sights.
Center Axis Relock Shooting
John Wick has become noteworthy in the firearm community for prominently featuring the Center Axis Relock (C.A.R.) shooting system, which was developed by Paul Castle to increase performance of close-range combat, particularly with semi-automatic handguns. The goal is to use the shooter’s condition under duress to his or her own advantage, eliminating stability issues by focusing on natural focal points and movements. The stable firing grip improve a shooter’s recoil control, thus increasing the rate of accurate fire. According to an article at Aimed Point Shooting (APS), this can be up to four center mass shots in less than one second. The system was also developed to improve one-hand weapon retention and allow the support hand more freedom for non-shooting related movements like opening a door or pushing something away.
Another benefit of the C.A.R. system is that it saves time. Not only is it “strong, stable, and flexible” – as noted in the APS article – but it allows quick target acquisition and reloading. APS notes two stances that are bases for C.A.R. system action:
- The High Position, used for moving, confined spaces, and from cover. The shooter fires from a semi-bladed stance, holding the weapon near the chest and reducing the silhouette to form a “circle of control and defense”.
- The Extended Position, used for entry, combat, assault, and from a vehicle. The shooter holds the weapon naturally but at a reading distance – rather than full arm extension – to rely on the shooter’s natural focus point.
With the support hand freer due to the reduced stress on the shooting hand, reloading or clearing a jam can be performed much quicker with a rapid return to shooting. All actions should be performed close to the body using short movements. The C.A.R. system also relies on two different types of reloading:
- The Combat Reload, when the pistol is empty. Use the free hand’s thumb and index finger to draw a front-facing magazine while simultaneously lowering the gun hand’s elbow, keeping the gun in place. The empty magazine should be ejected by operating the weapon’s release and quickly flicking the wrist out and back. The free hand’s index finger will then quickly guide the fresh mag into the pistol, pressing it in with the free hand’s palm. John Wick does this a good number of times to great effect.
- The Tactical Reload, typically when the pistol isn’t empty. Use the free hand’s index and middle fingers to draw a magazine, bringing it up to the gun as the gun hand’s elbow lowers. Operate the mag release as the new magazine approaches the gun, then pull out the partial mag with the free hand’s thumb and index finger. In one flowing motion, press in the new magazine while letting the top-heavy partial mag fall into the free hand’s palm.
Keanu Reeves talked about his weapons training in an October 2014 interview with The Sag Harbor Express:
I’ve had some movie gun training in the past, so some of the techniques I was familiar with, but each character I play requires something different so I worked for a while with a gentleman from LAPD SWAT. I also worked with a guy from the army, because I would be doing different kinds of weapon and tactical techniques. So it was basically reacquainting myself with weapons and techniques while training new things on the job and trying to get it right under the circumstances. One thing I needed to get right was a tricky holster!
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Buy the movie.
Do I look civilized to you?
Mr. Mom. Now I’ve mentioned three Michael Keaton movies in this post.