John Wick (Movie Review)

Fun fact: Keanu Reeves once played Hamlet on stage. I’m not kidding. Look it up. Apparently He was pretty good!

Keanu Reeves is a Canadian treasure. I will fight anybody who says otherwise.

 John Wick

Directed by: Chad Stahelski and David Leitch

Produced by: Basil Iwanyk, Eva Longoria, David Leitch

Written by: Derek Kolstad

Genres: Action, Thriller

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Willem Dafoe, Dean Winters, Adrianne Palicki, Bridget Moynahan, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane, Lance Reddick, Andy the Dog

Music by: Tyler Bates, Joel J. Richard

Plot: John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is seemingly an everyman who, sadly, is mourning the death of his wife (Bridget Moynahan), who has succumbed to a terminal illness. While moping around his house, he receives a surprise package from his wife from beyond the grave who had arranged to give him a puppy to cope with his loneliness. John and the puppy immediately hit it off, becoming the cutest movie couple in film history, outdoing Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone.

Awwwwww……

Unfortunately, while going on his daily routine of, uh, Driving donuts?!?! That’s……Pointless…..

Yeah, this movie doesn’t exactly display a whole bunch of logic, and this scene in particular probably could’ve been cut from the film to the benefit of the picture as a whole. Anyways, while driving around, he runs afoul of a group of hoodlums led by Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen).

Sure, I know Alfie Allen’s character is technically named Iosef Tarasov, but if you’re as big a Game of Thrones fan as I am, you can’t not see him as Theon Greyjoy. Especially this character. Don’t even try to tell me otherwise, he is Theon Greyjoy.

Reek and his shithead buddies follow John home, murder his puppy and steal his Mustang. What he doesn’t know, however is that John is known in the underworld as the deadliest hitman in New York City. And know that he’s got nothing to lose, he’s gunning for Tarasov, his dad, Viggo (Michael Nyqvist) and the rest of the Russian Mafia.

The Russian mob: Because the Sicilian mafia is overused, and a Mexican cartel may come off as racist.

The moviegoing community hasn’t seen all that much of Canadian “actor” Keanu Reeves since his appearance in the shit-tastic The Day the Earth Stood Still in 2008. Until his appearance in last year’s 47 Ronin, which we will not discuss ever, he had mostly just appeared in some small scale independent dramas that nobody saw. That’s a damn shame because I’m a big Keanu fan.

Yeah, I get that he’s not a good actor, technically speaking,but there’s something about him that’s so damn appealing. I’m not sure if it’s the fat that he still looks like a 25-year old, or the fact that he really looks like he’s trying to emote up there. And hey, it’s not like he isn’t capable of delivering at least a passable performance. here and then.

So, how does Keanu do as John Wick? Well, you know,  he does what he did in the Matrix: Be a blank slate, enabling the audience to comfortably insert themselves into the action, of which there is a crapload. He’s not about to set the Academy Awards on fire, but he does exactly what a B-movie action star should do. And when he does need to show some emotion, he doesn’t embarrass himself, and can be genuinely touching when he needs to be. Sure, it would’ve been nice to get an all-around better actor, but as comebacks go, you could do worse.

Much, much worse.

The New York City of the world of John Wick is definitely something to behold. It is apparently a mecca for hitmen who do various jobs for the different crime bosses, and who seem to live a life separate from the non-criminal elements of society. The cops don’t particularly care about the in-fighting between the different games, as long as they clean up their messes and leave civilians out of it (There’s a pretty funny interaction between Keanu and a policeman). Hell, the hitmen have an entire damn hotel, maintained by Lance Derrick and Ian McShane, reserved for themselves. These assassins use freaking gold coins as currency for chrissakes! It’s definitely highly illogical, but I don’t really care all that much. I love it when movies try to do world-building  like this movie does. It almost seems like a less-stylized and less extreme in general version of the world of Sin City.

That’s not to say it isn’t stylized or violent though, because it’s both of those things, especially the latter. Holy shit, does John Wick ever rack up a body count. The movie, admittedly, is a little slow for the first ten minutes or so, but the minute that Keanu Reeves starts kicking ass and taking names. Director Chad Stahelski was Keanu’s martial arts coordinator in the sci-fi epicness that was The Matrix, And he definitely brought his talent for making people look like unstoppable badasses to this movie. John Wick is up there with the other unstoppable badasses of film history in terms of sheer body count and pure…Uh…Badassery, I guess. You have not trouble believing that this guy wiped out all of the Russian mafia’s rivals. Seriously. The Punisher wishes he was as badass as John Wick.

Did this help or hinder Punisher’s street cred? I’m going back and forth on that.

 The other actors aside from Keanu were fine too. I especially liked Michael Nyqvist as the big baddie of the movie, although you can tell at times that he and Alfie Allen aren’t Russian when their Swedish and English accents, respectively, bleed through.

The only other real problem I had with the movie is the writing. There isn’t a whole lot of dialogue in this movie (Compared to, say, Sin City), but when it does show up, it is just plain silly. You see this dumb line?”

JOHN WICK: People keep asking if I’m back. Yeah, I’m thinking I’m back!!!

Clunky, cheesy and B-movie fodder, right? It’s not even close to being the most awkward line in the movie. That said, I kinda give the movie a pass on that front, because, well, I think that this movie is kind of a throwback to the action movies of the 80’s. Stupid, corny dialogue, sure, but man alive is it ever a good time.

Doesn’t mean that the movie gets a nine. Still a great ride, though.

Overall: A creative world, ultraviolence, silliness and Keanu Reeves. If you are a fan of any of those things, then drop whatever it is you’re doing now and get to your local movie theatre to watch John Wick. What are you gonna watch otherwise? Ouija?

8.0/10

If this makes more money than John Wick, anybody who made that happen will have a gruesomely violent chat with me.

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