Ninety five seconds. That’s how much screen time the second best fight of the movie takes up (I mean, give or take — that’s just my timing). This is a short, sharp, brutal battle — and as a consequence remains the most realistic of the fights, only edging the Perkins battle out because they literally have to cut away to allow him to escape from an unwinnable situation there (Perkins killed John Wick, pass it on).
I can’t tell, from the feel, whether there was more that was cut out or the truncated narrative beat was deliberate, which is good. It flows organically and looks great. And it’s a nice change of pace from the longer, more geographically complex fights. On a structural level, it feels like something of a declaration of war: this fight ends fast because Wick has announced he’s ‘back’ and he’s done messing around. His movie monster indestructibility is in full effect.
He’s also done with anything resembling rules now.
As this last section opens, Wick is on his back, Kirill above him but unlike the last times not in a position to punch. It’s unclear from the angles but it would seem Wick has one leg up ‘framing’ Kirill away from him and the other hooked around behind his back. That’s a classic Jiu-Jitsu position–not usually held for quite this long admittedly–that turns into various sweeps, takedowns and pre-locks.
Here Kirill has his arms trapped against Wick’s chest and he jams a hand against Wick’s face.
So John bites him. On the thumb. Hard.
That’s good tactics.
As Kirill is distracted by the bite, John hooks his left leg over his shoulder and lays it across his chest, partially trapping Kirill’s right arm. That’s another Jiu-Jitsu set up for an arm bar or triangle choke, depending on how they defend it or where their other arm winds up. But Kirill’s resisting, getting into a crouch (straightening up is the first and simplest way to break out of these kinds of grips) so Wick gouges at his eyes.
That’s better tactics because you don’t even have to get that close to succeeding to have a huge effect. Going for the eyes, breaking someone’s nose and constricting an airway are fast, efficient ways to gain control of any fight. When any of those things occur the human response is usually panic. In fact, if you ever start to constrict someone’s airway and they DON’T panic — well, I hope you know grappling cause you’re fighting another wrestler.
01:12:12 — the fight is technically over now it’s just that Kirill dosen’t know it yet. When Wick gouged at his eyes he was thrown/fell to his right, clutching at his face. Wick gets up and takes HIS back, the plastic cuffs on his wrists now hooked around Kirill’s throat, Wick’s right knee in his back then up against his neck for leverage and his left leg hooked across his hip and chest, helping to hold him down. I’m hard pressed to think of anyway to get out of this in real life (if Kirill’d not had one arm trapped down as Wick took his back or gotten his other hand in faster he might have been able to fight it off a bit, that’s about all) and he’s not going to.
It takes him a fairly realistic fifteen seconds to die.
Wick appears to then break his neck when he stops struggling but that’s immaterial at this point.
1:12:35 John Wick is definitely back, all right.
And we’ve reached the endgame.