After John Wick loses his beloved wife, Helen, to a terminal illness, he receives a beagle puppy named Daisy, per Helen’s instructions, to help him cope with his grief. He connects with the puppy and they spend their day driving around in his vintage 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1. At a gas station, he encounters a trio of Russian gangsters whose leader, Iosef Tarasov, insists on buying his car, but John refuses to sell it. The mobsters follow John to his home that night, knock him unconscious, steal his car, and kill Daisy.
Iosef takes the Mustang to a chop shop run by Aurelio to have the VIN changed. Aurelio recognizes the car and, upon learning that Iosef stole it from John, punches him before throwing him out of his shop. John visits Aurelio, who tells him Iosef is the son of Viggo Tarasov, the head of the Russian crime syndicate in New York City. Viggo, informed by Aurelio of Iosef’s actions, beats and berates Iosef, explaining to him that John Wick was his best assassin, nicknamed “Baba Yaga”. When John wanted to retire and marry Helen, Viggo gave him an “impossible task”, implied to involve multiple assassinations. John succeeded, establishing the Tarasov syndicate.
Viggo tries to talk John out of seeking retribution, but John silently refuses. Viggo then sends a twelve-man hit squad to John’s house, but John kills them all and has the bodies professionally removed. An unsurprised Viggo places a $2 million bounty on John’s head and personally offers the contract to John’s mentor, Marcus. John seeks refuge at the Continental Hotel, which caters exclusively to the criminal underworld and permits no “business” on its premises. Viggo doubles the bounty for those willing to break the rules to kill John at the Continental.