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Cinema’s Ultimate Jerks #15: Iosef Tarasov from ‘John Wick’

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Cinema’s Ultimate Jerks is a celebration of the characters we love to hate in the movies we love to love. They’re not always the main villains – and sometimes they’re not even villains at all – but they’re definitely jerks. So let’s take a look at this week’s jerk-off, and why they find themselves forever enshrined here in the hall of shame. Since this week we’re talking about Iosef Tarasov, this is your spoiler warning for the 2014 movie, John Wick.

Tarasov spends about ten minutes of the movie acting like a cocky little prick, and every other remaining minute that he’s alive wishing he’d never been born.

There’s a fine art to writing a movie synopsis. Think about it. That wee blurb is used in television listings to try and lure people in in lieu of a trailer and so it has to make a compelling argument in just a sentence or two. Picture the scene: it’s Saturday night and it’s a quiet one because it’s the weekend before pay-day and you’re running low on pocket money. A couple of tins of lager in the house, couple of ciggies out the back door, order a pizza in, and a movie. So you flip through the guide and read what’s on… okay, okay… black and white movie about a dude trying to rescue a bunch of Jew dudes from the Nazis… sounds a bit bleak for a me party. Couple of superheroes have a massive fight for no reason and then end the fight because their mum has the same name… sounds a bit silly. Oh, here we go… massive wanker kills dog so owner goes on a fucking rampage. Belter.

There’s no mucking about with John Wick. It gets right down to business. Tragically, our hero’s wife has died after an illness and has left him with a wonderful final gift – a cute little doggy that will keep him company in her stead. And boy is the dog cute. Anyway, John Wick loves his dog, the dog loves him, everyone is happy for like eight minutes of movie time, and then while he’s filling up his car with gas, John Wick meets Iosef Tarasov. Tarasov isn’t a little bit of a jerk. He’s not an alright guy that can be a bit of a prick from time to time. He’s the world heavyweight champion of cinematic douche-bags. You can tell as soon as you look at him and his stupid swagger and that daft toilet brush beard that looks like a light breeze could blow it clean off his jerk face. You know when you just know? Well, you just know. This guy is a jerk.

So he starts making his mouth go at John Wick about how much he likes his car in a comedy Russian accent, and then offers to buy it. John likes his car so he respectfully declines the offer. Tarasov doesn’t like it when he doesn’t get his own way, so he calls John a mean name in Russian. John speaks Russian and retorts. It’s tense, but everyone leaves with their knackers intact so I think we can consider that a decent result and call it a day. But instead of just going home for a Pot Noodle and sticking Poinntless on the telly like a normal person, Tarasov decides that he’s going to take John’s car even though he didn’t want to sell it, because that’s just how he rolls. That’s stealing folks.

Bath time, predictably, ends badly.

So he brings a bunch of his mates – who, by the way, must all be absolute knobheads to be friends with this clown shoe – and they break into John’s house to steal his car. John puts up a fight but they have the numbers on him, take him down, beat his ass, and then, and oh shit, man, I’m getting mad even typing this, they kill the fucking dog. Now, there are certain things that are absolutely, positively not fucking cool. I was willing to forgive Loki in Thor Ragnorak despite the fact he nearly caused Armageddon way back in The Avengers, because he’s kinda funny so you know, that’s all cool. And Darth Vader’s eleventh hour face turn is all gravy, brother, because that one good thing makes up for that whole planet annihilation thing back in A New Hope. Plus, he’s cool. But one thing I absolutely cannot abide is a motherfuckin’ dog killer. That shit ain’t right. There’s no coming back from that. I don’t care if you come to my house personally a deliver me a Star Bar every single day for the rest of my life. I ain’t never getting over that shit.

Anyway, we’ve established that dog killing is a total no no. But what Tarasov doesn’t know is that John Wick is actually a legendary retired hitman, with a curriculum vitae longer than the phone book, full to the chuff of people he’s whacked over the years over grievances far slighter than dog murder. The only reason he quit the life was because he fell in love, and when his wife died, the dog became all he had left of her. The death of the dog is utterly heartbreaking for John. And so John Wick promptly decides that he’s going to come out of retirement for one last job, and that job is fucking up literally every single person that a) had anything to do with the murder of his dog, or b) tries to stop him from completing task a). And that’s a lot of people, by the way. Including Tarasov. By the time it’s all said and done, Tarasov, his dad, all his friends, all his dad’s friends, and countless nameless goons have all been slaughtered, all because this fucking jerk-off forgot cinema’s #1 rule. Never, ever kill the dog.

John Wick is absolutely, positively, not okay with dog murder.

Jerk-off Quote: “It was just a fuckin-“ – I think he was going to say “It was just a fucking dog” but I can’t quite be sure because John Wick sticks a bullet squarely in his brow before he even gets his final sentence out.

Comeuppance: He spends the last of his days in hiding, holed up in an awful abandoned warehouse, but John Wick finds him anyway, and murders him with zero remorse.

Jerk-off Rating: The dog may have been the runt, but Iosef Tarasov was undoubtedly the cu

Tune in next week – same jerk time, same jerk channel – to find out who’s next in our celebration of cinema’s ultimate jerks. And if you’ve not quite had your fill of cinematic jerk-offs, check out #14 The Concierge (Home Alone 2), #10 Peter Parker (Spider-Man 3), or #2 Dr. Chilton (The Silence of the Lambs).

John can generally be found wearing Cookie Monster pyjamas with a PlayStation controller in his hands, operating on a diet that consists largely of gin and pizza. His favourite things are Back to the Future, Persona 4 Golden, the soundtrack to Rocky IV, and imagining scenarios in which he's drinking space cocktails with Commander Shepard. You can follow John on Twitter at www.twitter.com/JohnDoesntDance

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