Otto Dix The Triumph of Death 1934
I don’t think we ever had a movie review before, and this is not really one either. Dr. D. sent me this yesterday, and now you can all go find out what it means. It feels to me like he has Keanu Reeves solve all of world politics. But then, I only saw some bits of John Wick 1, and I’m afraid I stopped there. So what do I know, really?
Dr. D. :
For a change of pace, let’s do a light off-the-cuff movie review of John Wick 4. Now being no expert, I don’t keep very close track of the plot or the names, but with a spoiler alert, here’s how this exciting and deadly action movie goes.
Johnny, a retired Mafia killer, has gotten into trouble in Wick 1, where his former Mafia boss’s idiot drug-addled son is so offensive that he has to come out of retirement to oppose them. After the many turns of Wick 2 and 3, and finds himself “Excummunicado”. That is, his bad behavior in taking just revenge means he is wanted dead by all the other mafias, headed by a mysterious “High Table”, a secret and untouchable collective of old European money.
In revenge for not bringing Johnny to heel and controlling or eliminating him, the designated authority of the High Table, the young Marquis, attacks downtown NY, leveling their prime location and casino there called “The Continental”, murdering the NY Concierge, and leaving the NY Manager alive as a warning to others.
The young Marquis of old Europe then enlists China, a blind assassin who is indifferent to the job, but capable of killing rebellious Johnny, but only through deadly blackmail of killing his progeny, his young and protected daughter.
Asked why he destroyed his own focus and financial center in NY, the Marquis says he must destroy the very “idea” of rebellion, by destroying everything it touches worldwide. He is advised by London, his agent and advisor, on the problems of destroying your own paying assets simply to make a point, but is dismissed.
Johnny then travels to Japan, where he has loyal friends willing to advise or even possibly help him. However, the very act of coordinating puts Japan under massive attack and they are also destroyed. As his last act, Japan authorizes Johnny to kill everyone involved without quarter. The hungry China is also there eating noodles and concludes the attack on Japan near a watery pool, but leaving Japan’s young daughter intact.
We also find that The Tracker, a beer-drinking American everyman and his dog, have been following Johnny’s every move and is biding his time for action. He is disregarded by Europe as an irrelevant Mr. Nobody, beyond consideration or engagement, a deplorable.
Johnny returns to hiding among the Street People, the Bowery King, and is contacted by NY who tells him he can end the persecution by toppling the High Table. If he kills the Marquis himself, he will merely be replaced by another. But if he can Topple the Table or force them to negotiate, he can make terms for lasting peace. This is done via a seldom-used direct war, in personal combat. The constant possibility and risk of such a direct and personal war is the only thing holding nation’s mafias in check. So Johnny must fight Old Europe directly, one-to-one.
However there is no premise for doing this. To get a basis for single combat, Europe vs Johnny, he needs a seat, a “ticket” from a nation’s mafia to make such a challenge. He cannot be on the outside, a stateless free agent. But there is such a one who wants to take revenge in Russia.
Johnny meets the Russian mafia in Germany, who immediately shoot and hang him out of revenge and distrust. She says she cannot forgive the killing of her father once, when she then had to bow subservience to Old Europe for years. Johnny argues they now have a common enemy and should take out the Marquis and the Table instead of each other. Russia reluctantly agrees but only if Johnny can prove himself. To do so, he must take out all Germany, and hand her his gold as token.
They then arrange this ruse that Johnny shall be delivered as prisoner and slave to massive, muscular Germany. On arrival in his office, they find China already knows and is waiting. The Tracker is also there, and so we have all three sitting down together in Germany, all wanting to kill rebel Johnny, either for threats, or or money, or for German dominance and credibility. Germany then reveals he deals off the bottom of the deck and cheats at everything.
In the ensuing battle, Johnny attacks Germany in a way he doesn’t expect, cutting at his arteries, and after an endless and pounding exchange, he delivers Germany’s gold teeth to Russia.
Johnny is then authorized as an agent and alliance with Russia, to then attack Old Europe in single combat.
NY delivers the challenge to the hotheaded young Marquis, however encouraging him that if he should kill Johnny, the young Marquis would most certainly be lauded as master and take over everything. Also should Johnny win this combat, then NY will be rebuilt and reinstated at Europe’s expense, thus NY’s interest in the matter. If Europe wins, however, NY will be killed. This is agreed as they depart under the painting of the “Liberty Guiding” by Eugène Delacroix and comment Sic Semper Tyrannis.
In the meeting of terms under the London moderator and arbiter, they arrange combat with pistols at dawn at Sacré-Cœur, the Sacred Heart. Instead of fighting Johnny himself, however, Europe nominates China instead, who again is forced to agree, but likes it even less.
Europe’s Eurotrash soldier then warns the Marquis that in the bodyguard’s opinion, this is a bad idea, as to be seen not fighting for yourself makes you appear weak, is a greater risk, and even winning may not transfer power to him. The Marquis clearly seems to feel he cannot beat Johnny in open combat and continues on the smart and clever route, as it will all be over soon anyway, with the rebellious Johnny erased.
The Marquis then continues to cheat, increasing the money paid for Johnny to amazing heights of $26M. This brings out every scoundrel and hit man worldwide, who then attack Johnny in the public square, under the Arc de Triomphe in France. Hour after hour they attempt to take him out, before and so the direct combat cannot occur. Man after man, attempt after attempt, they fail.
However, the American Everyman is interfering indifferently, saving Johnny’s life repeatedly as he wants the prize for himself: peace and a decent retirement. At the same time, and at the last minute, China then arranges to insure the combat of Old Europe vs the newly authorized Johnny – agent of the Russian Mafia – occurs as agreed, all overseen by London as referee. They climb the last 222 steps of the Rue Foyatier, taking out the last Eurotrash soldier in the process.
Everyman, while intending to kill rebel Johnny, was not offered enough by Europe, repaid a quid pro quo, and was too much delayed to kill Johnny before the open combat and therefore opens a beer and is a mere spectator to the duel from a nearby bench, his exhausting work complete.
At last the open combat of Europe vs rebel Johnny begins, pistols at down at last, with China as his proxy. They shoot each other mercilessly, but no one falls, and they proceed to the third round at 10 paces, impossible to miss. As they are both shot a third time, Johnny falls and Europe interferes to make the coup de grace on the “idea of rebellion” himself. Johnny however, although shot has only been appearing weak. He had arranged with China and not shot his pistol at all, having ammunition in reserve. With the help of NY distractions, he shoots and kills Europe, ending the matter and bringing the situation back to peace.
London concurs and frees both NY and China from their obligations. Russia is victorious and the High Table is brought to heel.
However as a soldier and a killer, Johnny is no longer needed and dies on the steps nearby, thinking of his Lady, and is buried in the last scene as “Faithful Husband.”
So, highly stylized and pretty cool movie, eh? Well, we now return to our regularly scheduled program that’s filled with boring finance and geopolitical wrangling instead.
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