John Wick (2014) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

John Wick (2014)

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They killed his puppy, now he's out for revenge.  Keanu Reeves is John Wick in the debut film from directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch.

Prison of puppy tearsAction movie fans have had to come to a harsh realization this past decade, the genre has taken a steep dive from its heyday of the 80s and early 90s. We are far from the fun days of Arnold, Sly, Bruce and to a lesser extent, Van-Damme and Segal, making movies where the bad guys are killed with a quip and things blow up pretty. Other than an occasional Neeson or Statham film we have had to live on Fast and Furious films and the occasional foreign film (The Raid) to get our fix.

I am here to say that there is a movie out there now that is like water in a desert that will quench your thirst for a good action film and that is John Wick. Let us count the ways in why the movie works so well:

One of the most important supporting roles of the year and where's the academy? Probably nominating a cat.

One of the most important supporting roles of the year and where's the Academy? Probably watching cat videos.

  1. Keanu Reeves sells it.  The movie’s premise is on the other side of corny.  Reeves plays THE BEST hit man who gave it all up for love.  After his wife dies, he is left with only his beloved Mustang and a puppy that his wife gifts him.  Some Russian baddies come into his life to steal his car and kill his puppy and Reeves will not stand for this.  REEVES WILL HAVE JUSTICE.  99% of the time, this sounds more like a SNL skit than a real movie but Keanu never gives into the temptation to play this with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek.  Instead he shows the pain of a guy that has lost his way in life, who has nothing left to live for and who gets pissed when he is done wrong.  These are human emotions, they just happen to be housed in a character that can kill a number of people with just a pencil.  Thanks to Reeves giving this movie his all, you actually care about John Wick and his plight and you want to see that puppy get avenged.
  2. The movie is lean and mean.  John Wick clocks in at a little more than 90 minutes.  The movie introduces the characters, puts the plot in motion, lets all hell break loose and then ties it up in a bow.  The run time is perfect for this movie because it doesn’t overstay its welcome.  You are introduced to the characters and understand what they are in relation to the movie and lets the action go.  The movie throttles forward and doesn’t really slow down but thanks to a strong screen play, you always know the who, what, why, when and how.
  3. You can actually tell what is going on in the action scenes.  I have written many times about how I passionately hate the new style of shooting and editing action footage to the point of it giving the viewer a headache.  I don’t care for the jittery, jumping camera, the 3 edits every second of the Steadicam shots and it has ruined many action films for me since Greengrass made it popular with the Bourne franchise.  I can say that first time directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch do not fall into this trap and keep the action scenes fluid and exciting.  Coming from a stunt background I am sure they want to showcase the action going on instead of trying to stylize the film to death.  I am thankful for this because in this movie we are treated to really interesting scenes of mayhem involving guns, knives, fists, cars and more all that are easily taken in by the audience.  In Taken 3 (review coming this Saturday) during the car chase, I had no idea what was going on other than Neeson was in a car and stuff was making a loud noise.  Compare this to John Wick when he was facing countless guys in a dark nightclub and I knew exactly what was going on and where the characters were.
  4. The supporting cast was good.  For a B-level action film, the supporting cast in the film was filled with a  lot of fun performers.  Willem Dafoe, Adrianne Palicki, Dean Winters, Ian McShane and Lance Reddick all pop up through the film and have fun doing their scenes.  None of these actors could headline films but I always love seeing good character actors having a chance to break loose and chew a bit of the scenery.
  5. It was a breath of fresh air.  John Wick gave me something new in the genre at a time when I thought the action movie and ESPECIALLY the hitman on one last mission story has shown me everything there was to show.  Instead the movie introduces a whole world in this movie that I would love to see more about.  In downtown New York all the hitmen stay at a hotel where there are many rules and guidelines that I found fascinating and I would watch a 90 minute film JUST on this.  There were many times something is shown for a minute or two that I wanted to know more about but the film wisely kept it a mystery and moved onto the next scene.  9 out of 10 times prequels and spinoffs are bad ideas but for John Wick I would love to dive into this world as deep as I could.
Wick's puppy might still be alive if he just went shirtless to the gas station.

Wick's puppy might still be alive if he just went shirtless to the gas station.

Is John Wick going to win any awards? No, but it doesn’t want to. What this movie is all about is to entertain and it does this abundantly. When I was watching the film I don’t think there was a moment where I wasn’t smiling. I didn’t look at my phone once nor did I leave where I was sitting at all. The movie got its hooks in me and didn’t let go. Keanu Reeves is given a lot of grief but when he hits that sweet spot and finds a movie that works he makes magic. John Wick should go in anyone’s collection right next to Speed and The Matrix it earns it.

Tail - John WickJohn Wick (2014)

Directed by Chad Stahelski and David Leitch.
Screenplay written by Derek Kolstad.
Starring Keanu Reeves.

Posted by Ryan

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  1. Good review Ryan. Had a lot of fun with this and was at least happy to see Reeves back in full-form.

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