Friday, November 28, 2014

Movie Review: “John Wick” 

    I am an ardent fan of the cinematic arts. Although I have certain genre preferences, I don’t let that stifle my curiosity and close myself to different flavors of entertainment. That said...I am a huge fan of science fiction, super hero and action movies! Please visit my other blog The Boxed Office for reviews, exclusively, on these types of movies.

The Cast: 

    I wouldn’t call this a comeback for Keanu Reeves (I’m not even of the opinion he needs one) but this is certainly a great start. His portrayal of John Wick brought me back to his “Matrix” days, sort of, with a touch of “Equilibrium” but without any of the science-fiction, just the guns blazing. There isn’t much range in the role, but there doesn’t need to be for what it was meant to deliver. From the beginning his character is revered as the most dangerous of the dangerous and Reeves makes sure he delivers every bit of this.

   Michael Nyqvist plays Viggo Tarasov, the local Russian (it’s always Russians these days) crime boss, enjoying the title because of the past efforts of Wick. Nyqvist does well in the role, although nothing outstanding revolves around his character, he plays the role well enough as far as Russian crime bosses go. He struck me more as being a man that simply had to do what was expected because of his position…and the fact he wanted his idiot son to keep living.

   The relationship between the two seemed more like predator versus prey…with the prey being much more powerful and dangerous than what one would expect of the station. In the end, neither actor detracted from the film and delivered good performances.

The Plot: 
   John Wick is an ex-hitman/enforcer that has gotten himself out of the life and into normal life like the rest of us. Either by fate or happenstance, his wife falls terminally ill and passes away, leaving Wick to ponder the empty hole her passing has left in his heart and grieve, ironically, with her help via the parting gift of a puppy.

   Just days after her passing, Wick is accosted by Iosef Tarasov (Alfie Allen, the perfect person for this role), Viggo’s son, over a car (1969 Mustang 429 Boss to be exact) he initially wanted to purchase from Wick, but after being denied a sale, decides to take it. No big deal, it’s just a car. The problem starts (for Iosef) when he decides to also kill the puppy (what idiot does this?). 

   After the deed is done, Iosef quickly learns he has made a huge mistake (culminating in leaving Wick alive). He has given Wick a focus to unleash all his rage revolving around his current circumstances while simultaneously taking away his only avenue to grieve his wife.

      Viggo, understanding exactly who Wick is and what he is capable of reaches out to try to divert the coming storm, but finds that some things just can’t be avoided. Pulling out all the stops and calling on all his resources, he prepares (as best he can) for the carnage that is sure to happen, all the while hoping that somehow Wick has lost his edge.

   What follows is an intense and insane display of focus and carnage through raging determination from the barrel of many guns.

The Verdict: 

   Understand, this is not a film designed to compete for the Oscars. This is a film designed to drop your jaw and say “holy crap” at all the different and efficient ways one man can kill many other men.

      That said, the script was simplistic and the film moved along very quickly and sustained a strong pace throughout. I personally would have enjoyed it a bit more if Wick really was as invincible as everyone believes he is, but I understand this small human element the writers injected in having him not be totally invincible and needing to improvise to reach his goals.

      Taking all that into account, this film still delivers the action it was supposed to and although the melee combat is not over-the-top like many other films similar to this, the gun choreography is absolutely top notch and had my eyes wide open. 

      The film boasts the talents of Willem Dafoe (as a friend of Wick and fellow hitman) and John Leguizamo (as the owner of a chop shop and the first to let everyone know what a mistake it was to rouse the sleeping Wick). Adrianne Palicki is, yet another, hitman…er hitwoman, trying to make a name for herself by eliminating Wick (she was surprisingly good in this role). Lastly we are treated to an appearance of Ian McShane as the owner of a hotel that is secretly (or publicly depending on what circles you run in) a safe haven for hitmen.

   Despite the simplistic script and story, this film had me riveted to the screen at all times in anticipation of what was going to happen next. I’m very glad I didn’t blink as this film killed four cinnamon sticks, out of five, in my cup of tea.

“Everyone keeps asking me if I’m back…yeah, I’m thinking I’m back!” - John Wick

Rating 4/5


  1. Reeves ... elevates it all. Gliding through the carnage in a three-piece suit, steely eyed and steel-fisted, he is, in short, most excellent.

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