#15 – Rewatch on DVD
John Wick is a love letter to action movies, made by stuntmen, and starring one of the few actors (Keanu Reeves) who goes all out and does almost all of his own stunts. The love and attention put into this movie pays off in spades!
If you don’t know anything about John Wick, Keanu Reeves plays the titular character who was a former hitman. He gives up the life after meeting his wife who ends up dying due to some illness in a little montage at the beginning. In her final stages, she arranged for a puppy to be sent so John would have someone to help with his grief aside from his prized car. That is until his puppy is killed and his car is stolen by a Russian gangster … who happens to be his former boss’s son. Hijynx ensue.
I would give this movie 9 “dead puppies” out of 10.
There is very little here not to love.
- It is a straight forward revenge movie. Bad guy kills good guy’s dog and also steals his car. Good guy kills everyone involved. So many action movies have an overly complicated plot and drag on because of that.
- The action is all believable! Since this was directed by stunt men, they made sure their due diligence for the choreography. When John Wick shoots someone, he doesn’t shoot in their direction and move on. He shoots to kill and then shoots them in the head so they don’t get up. When he stabs someone, he has to hammer it into them.
- John Wick gets shot, stabbed, thrown off a balcony, and hit several times; so he is far from the untouchable hero.
- Once the action starts, it keeps coming. Almost every set piece seems to set up the next one.
- The world building is first class. They explain / show a little, let you figure out just enough, and leave the rest up to your imagination (until the upcoming sequel). The gold coins, The Continental, John Wick’s past, Marcus, etc … so much is introduced just enough to pique curiosity.
Since there is very little not to like, there isn’t much that is bad. My only two nitpicks:
- Baba Yaga is a real Russian folktale, but Baba Yaga is a she. She doesn’t hunt down boogeymen and is normally the villain … so this may not have been the best metaphor.
- The final fight was a little lackluster. John Wick was built up to be the ultimate bad ass who takes out waves of henchman with ease … and an old Russian mob boss almost stands toe to toe with him? There wasn’t a big shoot out, hand to hand fight, or cathartic ending.
This might be one of my favorite action movies of all time. It keeps a quick pace, over the top action that is fairly realistic, and doesn’t house an overly strenuous plot. Not every action movie needs a lot of plot to keep the story going, John Wick proves it with a simple revenge story.
Keanu Reeves has his fair share of great movies and big misses, but he also has a few gems hidden away. One such overlooked movie is Street Kings. He plays a crooked cop who ends up getting caught up in the murder of another officer. There is a web of deceipt that he has to untangle while also dealing with Internal Affairs. Helping add to the movie are some great performances by Forest Whitaker, Hugh Laurie, Chris Evans, and even Common.