Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Film Studies

Reader 1

Robert von Hallberg

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In this paper, I trace the theme of revenge across Drive (Refn, 2011) and John Wick (Leitch and Stahelski, 2014). Professor von Hallberg helped me understand these films as vehicles for understanding certain ideas. Throughout the semester I consulted the work of several literary critics to arrive at a better sense of what neo-noir is and to better understand the world of these films. Through close analysis of specific scenes, I hoped to determine what I would learn about vengeance if I lived in the world that these characters inhabit.

After watching and re-watching both films several times, I went through scene by scene and observed the details that stood out to me the most. I related these to the literature I had read and suggested what each detail might mean before drawing any conclusions. Once I had completed the core analysis, I reviewed these observations and synthesized them into general claims. I affirmed that revenge was closely related to von Hallberg’s notion of “trust” as a “horizon of hope” (von Hallberg 2). In the end, it was apparent that in punishing those responsible, the protagonists of these films committed to destroying any and all “obstacles to the [re]construction of trust” (von Hallberg 5). Both protagonists are portrayed as avengers who are driven toward the destruction of “the fakery and greed of those around them” (von Hallberg 36). In these films, to extract revenge is to punish the “corrupt[t] [and] [re]buil[d] [in] a world governed by self-interest” (von Hallberg 36).

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.