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John Wick Review

12 Nov

john-wick

“I heard you punched my son. Why?”

“He stole John Wick’s car.”

“…Oh.”

That’s John Wick for you: darkly humorous, full of action, and made with its own rules in mind. This is far from perfect, but it’s the type of action film that isn’t produced enough these days, one that employs an incredibly simplistic structure, but one that still succeeds aesthetically and violently and creatively. It’s loads of fun, and it looks gorgeous.

What immediately sets this movie apart is the lack of needless exposition at the beginning, as Bridget Moynahan barely has any screen time as Helen, John’s wife. John Wick does not need explaining because it is very easy to understand, and when Helen gifts her husband a new dog, knowing that she’s going to die of cancer, we understand exactly what John’s motivations are when he goes on his quest for revenge. There are two things left that John can possibly love, and those two things–a ’69 Mustang and Daisy, the adorable beagle–are exactly what is taken from him by Iosef Tarasov and co.

As the movie progresses, we realize that although the fundamentals of the plot are the same as for any other revenge film, there’s something engaging and unique about the world-building here. This is an environment in which everyone seems to know everyone, in which all these criminals exchange their own currency, in which there is a hotel–the Continental–that specifically caters to these kinds of people. A world and a code for that world has already been established, and the film takes us through this world with an energetic and confident hand. We’re introduced to John’s character through other people, through their telling of his past ventures and through their interactions with him in the present.

The film doesn’t have anything particularly deep to say, and although there are a few nods at corruption and money and power, what stands out here is the exciting, stylized action. A particular fight sequence in a nightclub is the perfect encapsulation of everything there is to love about John Wick: it’s a simple, generic story told through an original, exhilarating lens, and it’s a blast to watch unfold.

GRADE: B+

OTHER THOUGHTS:

-Reloading has never been so cool. Also, every other action movie, John Wick is here to tell you that reloading is a thing that exists.

media_john_wick_20140915

HOW DO YOU KILL THIS FACE? 

-Alfie Allen’s face, on the other hand, is so punchable.

-Keanu Reeves. It’s so good to see him back in a great role. He’s been maligned for his acting before, but this movie is a perfect fit for him and the inherent charm he possesses, and I especially like the juxtaposition of him and the beagle.

-This is a hell of a cast. Many people don’t have huge roles, but when you have the likes of Lance Reddick, Willem Dafoe, Ian McShane, Adrianne Palicki, Michael Nyqvist, and more, you can’t go wrong.

-Eva Longoria is a producer for this movie. Alright, then.

-Chad Stahelski and David Leitch are the directors of the movie, and they both have experience as actual stuntmen. A very exciting and confident debut for the two of them.

-The cinematographer is Jonathan Sela. The last movie he shot was A Good Day to Die Hard, which is an example of what not to do when making an action movie.

SPOILER SPACE

-There’s a refreshing lack of shaky cam used throughout, but there are a few instances during the nightclub scene in which the shaky cam is used. There is a clear purpose, though, as we get the shaky cam as we’re following Iosef; that undoubtedly reflects his state of mind.

– “Your membership to the Continental has, by thine own hand, been revoked.” Awesome line.

-Hey, Clarke Peters. Bye, Clarke Peters.

-The Keymaker from The Matrix Reloaded shows up as the doctor who stitches Wick up.

-A few sequences at the end seem to be tacked on a bit to pad the runtime, but the final one is certainly wonderfully shot and exciting. In particular, I like John hitting the guy with the car, then shooting him through the roof as he tumbles across the top. Also, what climactic sequence would be complete without a fistfight on top of something in the rain?

-Next to the pitbull’s cage, there is a sheet that says “To be put down”. After a movie full of death–upwards of 80 bodies–John Wick ends up saving a life.

Photo credit: John Wick, Legendary Pictures, Summit Entertainment

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15 Responses to “John Wick Review”

  1. JustMeMike November 12, 2014 at 12:58 am #

    Terrific review of a film that I’ve not seen yet. I did try to see it at some point last week, but I was late in leaving the house, and by the time I parked and walked to the theater, the line for tickets (it’s a 20 theater multiplex) was 24 people ahead of me, with only 5 minutes to the beginning of the show.

    So I bagged for that day. Never want to sit too close to the screen.

    • polarbears16 November 12, 2014 at 5:46 pm #

      Yeah, that’s understandable. My experiences near the screen haven’t been that great, and sadly, I had to sit up close for IMAX for Interstellar. It was still good, but it definitely would’ve been better further back.

      Thanks, and I hope you enjoy the movie when you do catch it.

  2. #peggyatthemovies November 12, 2014 at 2:10 am #

    Love your review of this..I couldn’t agree more and I thought this movie was just so fun & so PERFECT for Keanu.. and Iearned something from you..I had no idea that Eva Longoria was listed as a producers.. thanks for that..because it one of those useless facts that I so love..because again..who knew! and good for her!!

  3. #peggyatthemovies November 12, 2014 at 2:11 am #

    Reblogged this on #peggyatthemovies…andTV and commented:
    Because I love this review of John Wick also so if anyone hasn’t seen it yet..definitely do!!

  4. Drew November 12, 2014 at 9:00 am #

    I’m not a fan of the shaky cam technique, so it was nice that there wasn’t a lot of it. But where they did use it it actually added to the experience. Great review!

    PS: That is the cutest dog I have seen in a movie. Ever.

    • polarbears16 November 12, 2014 at 5:43 pm #

      Thanks! And yes, that dog. I feel like they purposely got the cutest dog they could find.

  5. epilepticmoondancer November 16, 2014 at 4:23 pm #

    Another positive review for this one! I think I’m gonna have to go see it, I have been kinda undecided, but this really makes me want to see it in a cinema, where it probably belongs. It it will be just so damned cool to see Keanu doing well, the poor bloke. That’s it, its decided! I shall see it this afternoon! 😀

  6. MovieManJackson November 19, 2014 at 10:22 pm #

    One of the better action movies I have seen this year. As you said, Keanu Reeves is perfect for this, like the role is tailor made to highlight his strengths and weaknesses. Great review as always Polarbears.

  7. Hepburn3 January 28, 2015 at 11:09 am #

    I finally saw John Wick and I loved it!
    It was such a graphic novel come to life.
    I loved the colour pallet, the way the whole thing was filmed and shot, I loved the dialogue and the way it was a world within our world (the code rules of the criminals, the hotel, the speak easy club for them, the currency that they use, all good touches).
    The cast was nifty too, I found it interesting to see tv’s latest try for Wonder Woman as Miss Perkins, and the rest of the other well known actors in there too, especially the head of HR on PoI. 🙂 ( I could so see Root hanging out in that Speakeasy in her past life as a contract killer.) 😉
    I thought Keanu Reeves was sound in this, yes he is not an actor with great range and he never claims to be, but what he does he does well, and the other thing I like about Keanu is that he likes to try different things. He just makes films and goes about his life, you never if ever hear about him in the tabloids. And the fact that I have crush on him just makes it more fun to watch. 🙂
    And as someone who does not really care for dogs, they eat shoes and I love my shoes, Daisy the puppy was adorable, even the pitbull that John saves in the end was a nice touch. A fun film that does what it sets out to do, entertain. 🙂

    • Hepburn3 January 28, 2015 at 11:14 am #

      Also the point you made Polarbear about reloading! Yes you are right because one rarely if ever sees that in action films, it either never happens and they all have a Legolas supply of bullets in their gun( he NEVER runs out of arrows in his quiver) or when they do reload it is done in a fancy stylistic way in slow motion, when Wick reloads it is done and it is a desperate necessity. This I think is due to the fact that the director(s) were former stunt people. They understand.

    • polarbears16 February 1, 2015 at 12:56 am #

      Yup, this was one of the more enjoyable experiences of the year for me, and I wasn’t expecting to like it that much going in. Very creative use of the world and world-building, and yes, Keanu was great for this and the puppy was adorable.

  8. Anonymous August 16, 2015 at 10:13 pm #

    Does anyone know what John spared Victor at the nightclub. Does it say on the DVD?

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Movie Man Jackson looks at: 2014 Music in Movies (Part 4) | MovieManJackson - December 24, 2014

    […] shots actually map to the beat! That is indeed awesome, and paraphrasing the great reviewer Polarbears16, John Wick is so cool he makes reloading look elegant (paraphrasing). Everything about John Wick is […]

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