MOVIE REVIEW | John Wick (2014)


“People keep asking if I’m back and I haven’t really had an answer. But yeah, I’m thinking I’m back.”

A dumb action movie.  A dumb action movie starring Keanu reeves.  A dumb action movie, starring Keanu Reeves, written and directed by his stunt double from The Matrix series.  It’s like the makers of John Wick were going out of their way to make me not want to see their movie.  But then, people whose opinion I trust kept talking about John Wick and how great it was.  Then I realised, when I do watch dumb action movies, I often like them.  And Keanu Reeves may have made some shit bombs, but he’s made good stuff too.  So it was time for me to stop looking down my nose at this dumb action movie, starring Keanu Reeves, written and directed by his stunt double from The Matrix series, and just see John Wick already.

The titular Wick (Reeves) has just lost his wife to some variety of sickness.  Alone in his misery, he receives one last gift that she arranged before her death, a puppy.  One day, his fully sick muscle car attracts the attention of a young Russian gangster, Iosef (Alphie Allen).  When Wick refuses to sell the car, Iosef and his goons break into Wick’s house, kick his ass, kill his dog and take the car.  But as Iosef and the audience soon learn, John Wick isn’t a man to be messed with.  He’s a former hitman so proficient with his trade that he once killed three men with a pencil.

In a crazy coincidence, it turns out that Wick’s last job before going legit, was eliminating all competition for Iosef’s father, Viggo (Michal Nyqvist).  So now Wick is on a rampage of revenge, and willing to take on New York’s most powerful criminal to get that revenge.  Also, Willem Dafoe, John Leguizamo and Ian McShane are there.

John Wick is big, dumb action done right.  Guns only run out of bullets when it’s time to show off a badass way of reloading, punches and kicks that would kill a man in real life are traded back and forth like light slaps, and John Wick walks away from fires and explosions without ever looking back.  It’s gloriously ludicrous and over blown to the point of ridiculousness, but the entire cast fully commits and plays it totally straight.

And it made me realise that too many movies, especially genre movies, are too self aware and sarcastic these days.  Winking at the camera, acknowledging their craziness and making sure we know that they’re in on the joke.  But when a genre movie owns its bat shit craziness, it can get away with so much more. Which is exactly what John Wick does.  Now I get why so many critics and movie nerds have been banging on about this movie for the last year.  It’s a dumb action movie, starring Keanu Reeves, written and directed by his stunt double from The Matrix series, and it’s too much fun to not like.

John Wick
Directed By – Chad StahelskiDavid Leitch 
Written By – Derek Kolstad

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