WARNING: The following contains spoilers for John Wick: Chapter 3 -- Parabellum, in theaters now.
The John Wick universe has many intriguing aspects, although the dynamic among the members of the assassins' guild is surely at the forefront. However, one facet that stands out, not only for its originality, is the Continental Hotel. The first two films painted it with a broad brush, as a hotel chain around the globe that serves as neutral territory for assassins. But in John Wick: Chapter 3 -- Parabellum, we learn the Continental is so much more.
Declared "excommunicado" for killing a member of the High Table on Continental grounds in Chapter 2, Keanu Reeves' John Wick if forced to flee New York City, and finds himself in Morocco, where he seeks out the Elder (Saïd Taghmaoui). Known as The One Above The Table, the Elder is the ultimate and most elite assassin, who can grant John a reprieve.
And so he does, on the condition that John return to the New York Continental and kill the man who allowed him to escape, Winston (Ian McShane). Torn, but wanting to live so he can honor his wife's memory, John arrives on the doorstep of the Continetala bloody mess, and arranges a meeting with his old friend. Charon (Lance Reddick), the concierge, ushers John to the Continental's secret chambers, where we find Winston in a war room that isn't just for to show: The hotel possesses a next-level hub used to help dictate the state of the world's violence.
John is taken aback at the high-tech facility, which is something akin to Tony Stark's lab or the Batcave. The killer sees weapons, books, armors, and relics from centuries of assassins, guilds and dynasties that painted the world red with blood. What's even more shocking is there are skulls on display, hinting the guild has been collecting trophies over centuries -- whether it's from past members or victims isn't clear. That said, we're able to witness Winston monitoring wars across the globe in a room where the flip of a switch can turn the world on its axis. At this point, it's clear this fraternity of assassins are true lords of war who dictate when and where tipping points occur.
We now see the Continental hotels are more than a sort of Switzerland for killers; they're used to control governments, military forces and terrorist cells. When the curtain is pulled back, and we reconcile the two other films, clearly this is the reason these hotels are so busy with mercenaries and soldiers. After all, there are only so many vendettas that can be settled using street-level hitmen. It's even hinted this is what the "above" and "below" the High Table means: "Above" refers to the bigger picture, such as world wars, while "below" is all about the rumbles in the street of lesser importance.
In short, the Continental is a haven for terrorists of different ranking, with assassins for gangs and mafia being lower rung. It's never confirmed which demographic John operates in, however, so as it stands from the movies so far, we can assume he's on the lower levels. But as he prepares for a new war against the High Table, that may well change, as both sides will surely be going all out with their resources in the next chapter.
Directed by Chad Stahelski, John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum stars Keanu Reeves, Ian McShane, Laurence Fishburne, Halle Berry, Jason Mantzoukas, Lance Reddick and Anjelica Huston.