The underworld of assassins in the John Wick Universe is highly complex, dark, and polished, and at the top of the hierarchy is the High Table.
The High Table is a council of twelve crime lords that governs the underworld’s most powerful criminal organizations. It has an influence over police forces, politicians, and bureaucrats all over the world, allowing it to conduct all business with exemption from punishment.
The High Table is considered the ultimate authority of the underworld and is feared and respected by all, including Winston and John Wick himself.
The organization acts as an unseen antagonist in John Wick: Chapter 2. But over Chapters 3 and 4, the franchise dives deeper into its workings and customs.
1. The Elder
The Elder was the mystical head of the High Table and the only one with the authority to revoke John Wick’s excommunicado status. He resided in the deserts of Morocco.
In John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, John goes to the Moroccan desert in search of the Elder in order to get the bounty on his head removed and seek freedom.
John cuts off his ring finger and gives the Elder his wedding ring to prove his loyalty. But, he fails to complete the task of killing Winston and hence the Elder doesn’t grant him his penance.
In Chapter 4, John finds the Elder again and this time kills him as an act of defiance.
2. The Adjudicator
The Adjudicator is an agent of the High Table and a representative of the Elder. The organization sends her to review situations, remind assassins of the High Table’s rules, and carry out any disciplinary actions or other deals.
In John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, The Adjudicator is given the task of killing John Wick and anyone who aided him, after he assassinated a member of the High Table, Santino D’Antonio.
At the end of the movie, Winston shoots John to prove his loyalty to the High Table, causing John to fall off the roof. As per the previously negotiated terms, The Adjudicator then allows Winston to keep his position as manager of the Continental.
3. The Harbinger
The Harbinger is an Emissary of the High Table. He has decision-making powers and the authority to make sure that the rules of the organization are being properly implemented.
In John Wick: Chapter 4, the Harbinger oversees the finalization of the terms of the duel. He is also present while the duel takes place, where he completes all the formalities according to the High Table’s traditions and officially declares the end result.
4. The Continental
The Continental is a chain of hotels located all around the world that acts as a neutral territory for high-end criminals and assassins. These hotels also provide services and facilities like bullet-proof suits, high-end armory, a large collection of maps and blueprints, and a cleaning company to get rid of dead bodies.
Although the High Table is the supreme authority in most cases, the various managers of these hotels – Winston in New York, Julius in Rome, Sofia in Morocco, Koji in Japan, and many more – have complete control over Continental business. The concierge in New York, Charon, can arrange for any needs that their clients might have.
The one rule that must be followed in the Continental is that no business of the underworld must be conducted on its grounds. The punishment for violating this rule is made clear when the High Table declares John “excommunicado” for killing Santino in a hotel.
Administration is an organization that is responsible for maintaining personnel files on assassins and secularizing the hotels. It announces rewards for particular kills and updates assassins on the target’s locations.
Administration is the one who processes John Wick’s excommunicado status as per the High Table’s rules. In John Wick: Chapter 4, it maintains a record of the increasing bounty on John’s head and also sends out his live location to all the assassins that want to kill him.
6. The Ruska Roma
The Ruska Roma is a Russian crime family that trains its children to become assassins and has a seat at the High Table. It also happens to be the family that John Wick grew up in, under his birth name Jardani Jovonovich.
The Director is the head of the Ruska Roma, and she is also John’s adoptive mother. In John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, she helps John get to Casablanca safely, but she banishes him from the family due to his status. As punishment for aiding him, the Adjudicator has her men stab the Director’s hands.
In Chapter 4, John’s adoptive sister, Katia, lets him back into the family after he kills the assassin that murdered her father.
7. The Marquis de Gramont
Marquis Vincent de Gramont was one of the highest-ranking members of the High Table. He took the Elder’s place and got his powers after John Wick killed the Elder in Morocco.
The Marquis was the main antagonist in John Wick: Chapter 4 whose primary mission was to get John killed. He even went as far as destroying the New York Continental and shooting Charon dead to punish Winston for not ending John’s life.
However, his ego proved to be his biggest weakness in the end when he foolishly interrupted the duel between John and Caine and got shot in the head by John.
8. The Soup Kitchen
The Soup Kitchen is a vast criminal empire run by the Bowery King in New York. It is disguised as a homeless shelter and its agents use the underground tunnels and passageways to get to places unnoticed.
The Bowery King uses his flock of pigeons to send messages in the form of microchips and deliver small objects to avoid using phone lines and the internet.
The Soup Kitchen isn’t exactly affiliated with the High Table. But when its agents help John kill some contract killers and the Bowery King provides him refuge more than once, the High Table shows the extent of the power they hold by decimating the Kitchen’s main base.
9. About John Wick : Chapter 4
John Wick 4 is an American neo-noir action thriller film and the fourth installment in the John Wick franchise. The franchise is created by Derek Kolstad and stars Keanu Reeves in the role of a retired legendary hitman John Wick.
John Wick must avoid run-ins with The High Table and survive long enough to complete his mission, along with the help of The Bowery King, who was left for dead by The High Table and now is helping John Wick take them down.
John Wick 4 released on March 24, 2023.