John Wick (2014)
John Wick (Keanu Reeves), an ex-hitman, has been living a quiet retired life with his wife. After the loss of his beloved wife he doesn’t have much left so when what little he had is brutally taken from him by some thug gangsters he decides to forgo retirement for a short time in order to exact revenge. Starring Micahel Nuyqvist, Alfie Allen, Willem Dafoe, Dean Winters, Adrianne Palicki, Omer Barnea, Toby Leonard Moore, Daniel Bernhardt, Bridget Moynahan, John Lequizamo, Ian McShane, Bridget Regan, Lance Reddick.
John Wick as a film doesn’t necessarily bring anything new to the hitman, action genre but it pulls out all the stops and lives up to any expectation one might have for a film of this style. Technically speaking John Wick is flawless as an action film. It has the perfect combination of shoot-em-up scenes mixed with hand to hand combat and then as an added bonus it has some old school gangster feel to it. There are rules to the game being played in the film and if you break them there are consequences. I like that about this film.
Now don’t expect any good guy heroes here because you won’t find any. Everyone is a bad guy but our anti-hero John Wick at least has a reason, and a damn good one if you ask me, for returning to his bad guy ways. Speaking of which, the set up for the action packed film which comprises only the first 10 minutes or so is rough. Seriously. If you have seen the trailers you know that the character John Wick’s rampage is set off when a punk gangster kills Wick’s dog. No joke, I mean who does that to a poor little puppy. I was bawling like a little baby. If John Wick hadn’t decided to seek revenge I would have done it for him. I am serious when I say the set up for the film is brutal. You don’t have a heart if it doesn’t hit you hard. Assuming you can stomach that then the rest of the film is a walk in the park. This isn’t action gore it is action brutality. Keanu Reeves holds his cool and calm demeanor throughout most of the film only adding to the brutal way in which he exacts his revenge. You know its personal to him but if you hadn’t seen the set up you would just think he was a cold-hearted murder machine.
If the film falls short in any category it is definitely the non-action side of things. If I face the facts the truth is that the story is simple but not necessarily in a good way. There is definitely no depth, even knowing John Wick’s back story. So there wasn’t anything for me to latch onto that would take this from pure action flick to action drama. On top of which I swear there weren’t more than two or three hundred words spoken in the entire film. Most non-action scenes felt a bit over dramatized but then when words were spoken they were often funny (not sure if it was intentional but it works).
John Wick isn’t a real world type of action film. It creates its own world and although it isn’t one I would want to live in – who would when its a world where idiot men murder beagle puppies named Daisy – I did enjoy a visit to watch some good old-fashioned action.
9/10 Stars – Lacked substance but made up for it with flawless action sequences.
As a guy, I love a good action movie, but there are so many out there that the good movies need to be GREAT to be elevated as the best. John Wick has enough good of things going for it in order to make it likable action movie. It stars Keanu Reeves and has plenty of action, and I mean a lot of action. However, sadly, this is all it has to offer. John Wick’s action is its biggest reward and its biggest flaw. John Wick is 1 dimensional as it has little to offer in terms of a story or unique characters. What sets great action movies like Lethal Weapon and Die Hard apart from the rest are great stories and likable characters with PERSONALITIES! John Wick is boring! He doesn’t show much emotion and talks very little. He apparently has a giant back story that is mysterious and is only revealed in small amounts. Give us more! Give us flashbacks!
The story is pitched to us as a revenge story after John’s cute little puppy is killed and his car is stolen. Someone explain to me why a dog needed to die? I mean there are many ways to get the point across that John Wick needs revenge, but in this day and age, half, if not more, of audiences are animal lovers so killing off the dog just put a bad taste in their mouths. I don’t get it. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, revenge. I once saw a movie, a great movie, about revenge. It is called The Count of Monte Cristo. In that story a man is sent away to a hole-in-the-wall cell for a decade while his best friend marries his girl and steals his life. When he finally escapes, he carefully weaves a poetic plan that gets back at the people who screwed him over. John Wick just gets a bunch of guns and runs around shooting people. I’m not saying that this approach to revenge isn’t entertaining, but when compared to the best revenge story ever, it’s drab.
John Wick simply suffers from not being the best and that’s it. It is fun action entertainment that has little else to offer. Had they given us a story other than some guy going after some European mob AGAIN (just saw that in The Equilizer and every other action film), then it might have been more refreshing, but for now John Wick will be lumped in with all the other high-octane action flicks and nothing more.
7/10 Stars – High-octane action with little to offer in terms of story or characters.