John Wick (2014)
John Wick is a mob hit man who, upon falling in love, quits. 5 years later, his wife dies and to make sure he’s not alone she arranges for a dog to be brought to him after her death. Later, some men wanting his car break in and beat him up and kill his dog. When he recovers, he sets to get the ones who killed his dog. He learns that the leader is the son of his former employer. And the man wanting to protect his son, tries to take care of Wick but he’s still as good as he was.
My opinion on “John Wick”
“John will come for you and you will do nothing, because you can’t do nothing.”
Do you hate complicated films where your brains hurt while trying to keep up with the story ? Do you start to drool spontaneously when watching endless violent action scenes ? You answered twice “Yes Sir” ? Well, that means “John Wick” is cut out for you. Because the story is simple in a way that even your goldfish can follow it easily and it contains a concatenation of rough,cruel liquidations. I never thought that stealing a Ford Mustang and wringing the neck of a puppy could result in a never-seen, raging revenge. John Wick, however, thought otherwise. This retired former hitman leaves a bloody trail in New York, after they steal his car and kill his dog, donated by his deceased wife. The fact that this is committed by the son of his former boss, who’s from the Russian mob, doesn’t impress him. Instantly he demolishes his basement floor. Years ago, he buried his whole arsenal of weapons and other adult toys there, just to forget his past and change gear in his new life.
Digging up Keanu Reeves again, certainly wasn’t a bad idea. The man has a natural talent for portraying an icy cool killer. His emotionless visage is perfect for the role. And the less dialogs in a film, the better. It’s not the dialogues, he has to struggle through, that gives him the appearance of a cold-blooded assassin, but his stoic calmness and the expressionless gaze does. He demonstrated this already in “The Matrix” and also in “47 Ronin” (wrongly considered by many as a pulp film). If you want to keep track of the number of victims, you should purchase a large oversize abacus. I enjoy a straightforward action film, with not to much frills and where the emphasis lies on mindless brawling and shooting. It shouldn’t be serious all the time. Although after a while I felt kind of impassive about it and sank deeper into my cozy seat to watch it with such an infinite look. I compared it with a ride on a wildly popular, matchless rollercoaster. During your first ride, you feel the adrenaline rushing through your body and you rush back to the entrance full of enthusiasm just to experience that indescribable feeling once again. During the tenth drive you’re sitting in it very relaxed, looking around in search for the next challenge. That’s “John Wick” in a nutshell. A flashy rollercoaster ride that starts fiery and impressive, but as the journey takes longer, the euphoria fades away slowly.
In terms of genre, it’s ultimately of the same level as “The Equalizer“. Only the latter contained a bit more story, I thought. In “John Wick” you have a stolen car and a dead dog on the one hand, and on the other hand an increasing number of corpses. That’s it. And yet it’s pure enjoyment witnessing the flashy action and shown coolness. Chad Stahelski, a former stuntman (interesting fact: he was the one who played Neo in “The Matrix” during dangerous scenes), doesn’t beat around the bush and creates a series of precisely choreographed fight sequences. Without much effort he succeeds in giving Reeves the reputation of a bogeyman. But as Viggo (Michael Nyqvist) remarks it himself: “John is not exactly “The Bogeyman”. He’s the one you sent to kill the fuckin ‘Boogeyman.“. And this top assassin moves in a swirling way to eliminate his enemies with a well-aimed shot. His shooting technique is slightly off-track and looks somewhat forced. But that doesn’t keep him from transforming the place where he appears, into an outright shooting gallery.
There were some pretty surreal scenes which impressed the imagination. Like the “Continental” hotel, the professional cleaning team and the reputation of John Wick in itself and his cult status hovering around him as an aura. “The Continental Hotel” could serve as a scenic design in a future Batman movie, which bathes in a real cartoonish atmosphere. It’s a famous meeting point for notorious assassins, with its own monetary system, an unnaturally friendly desk clerk that meets with all the needs of the guests and a resident physician who can be called for when guests return reasonable damaged after taking care of their “business”. There is only one golden rule which is mercilessly punished after being violated. It’s prohibited to arrange matters in the hotel itself.
For most of the supporting acts you can safely say that there’s a total lack of character development. Most are no more than a shadow in this film, who come momentarily into view and then they’re mercilessly being slaughtered. But it seems as if they are suffering from anemia, because despite the continuous aggression, there is very little blood splattered around. So only Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen (Iosef) and Willem Dafoe remain. Michael Nyqvist wasn’t very convincing as Viggo and was at the times too theatrical. Alfie Allen played the well-known roll as the conceited, imagining-himself-being-untouchable son of a criminal who as he starts to realize what predator is hunting him, needs a larger size Pampers. Not that very original. And Willem Dafoe tries, but gets little screenplay to play himself into the spotlight. So Reeves is the only one to steal the show. And he does that with panache and style. Once he slips into that measured black suit and swings a duffel bag full of adult toys in it over his shoulder, he walks confidently towards you while the camera zooms in. And then you can brace yourself. Magnificent.
“John Wick” isn’t exactly of a high level in cinematic terms but does meet the requirements of the targeted audience. A pure action movie full of spectacle. Unfortunately, there are rumors that the sequel “John Wick” is planned already. I admire Reeves that he’s still capable to portray a character as Wick at his age of 50 and bring this kind of personage to a higher level, but I’m afraid that this sequel will be a weak carbon copy from the original.