The Physics of John Wick

One of my favorite movie series in recent years, not because “guns and booooolets” but because they actually took the time to do a lot of the correct physics of getting shot, among the fight scenes choreography, the medical (and lack thereof) treatments and livability. Everything is going to come into play here. We’re combining John Wick 1 to 4, so potentially minor spoilers ahead, but not in any story aspects – just the “Cinema Sins” of the science of this wonderful series.

The Best Suit In The World

In John Wick 2, he visits a High Table tailor to get a new suit made with a “tactical lining”. That tailor then explains that it is silicon carbide discs, ceramic matrices, on a compound laminate. We see it here:

“Quite painful I’m afraid”

First, in the real world, there’s no full suit protection like what we see in the film. Even Barack Obama’s suit that was rumored to be bulletproof, isn’t entirely “proof” but rather “resistant” – it is designed to move the bullets away from where they were aimed, not completely block where they aimed – like what they show above.

What we’re dealing with here is “where is the force of the bullet going?” and normally that force is applied directly at the tip of the bullet into (or otherwise) whatever it was aimed at. Modern military soldier’s body armor is thick, heavy, and doesn’t move with the various hand to hand combat skills we see John have – google any “Solider in body armor” and take your pick. Try doing a back flip in that while taking down 4 other guys shooting at you.

In the movie John Wick 2, at 57:05, we can see John smack his chest, and then we can hear all the bullets falling from the armor to the floor. Something that thin sewn between the fabric of the suit, is nowhere near thick enough to stop even a 9mm bullet, however in the movie, we can see most are using larger caliber firearms, some even as high as .50 caliber rounds, which can penetrate an engine block.

The Hero Himself

But wait, there’s more – what of Mr. Wick? Let’s find out. We can see in a different scene how John uses his suit to protect against the random fire and potshots that the bad guys are taking at him. Previously we see they all have decent aim, going for center mass, which John’s magical suit protected him against. Let’s talk about getting shot in the chest while wearing body armor.

Image Credit: CanArmor

We don’t see John taking these high powered rifle rounds very often, and everyone mostly sticks to hand guns that fire 9mm “FMJ” or Full Metal Jacket rounds, shown above in the II-A section. A 2A vest protects center mass shots only, where the plate is, otherwise it slows bullets down so much that they’re no longer lethal. One shot to the head, shoulder, or anywhere else, and, well, let me get that red text ready.. but wait, before I do, lets try to combine the magic suit and physics in the real world with this lovely scene that I have drawn all over:

The red line represents the bullet being fired at John Wick. We assume, based on all the other shots and scenes, that this person aimed for center mass or about there, and John is using this “tactically lined” suit, creating a very small window of protection, shown in purple above, if he can grip the side of the fabric strong enough to overpower the bullets force being applied to the fabric itself (blue line).

That green area is like shooting at some window curtains – even with the thicker tactical lining, the bullet might be deflected, but at that distance, the deflection, unless it was at a wild angle, meaning the bullet stopped, then force was applied in reverse from within this Black Panther energy storing suit John’s wearing, and then fire backwards, it wouldn’t be far enough that it would miss John.

The orange area is marked so that it is bullet proof, but the force of that bullet will be applied to John’s forearm, and likely break his arm in one shot. If I can throw a baseball at you and break your forearm, a bullet fired from a gun definitely can do it.

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