John Wick Review

So I watched John Wick…

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I’ve been eagerly anticipating this movie for months now. I really enjoyed the trailer and the close-quarter gun fights really interested me. Sadly, I think I may have wasted my anticipation.

Okay, basic plot: Keanu Reeves is the titular character, a former assassin who (like all assassins in movies) has decided to leave his criminal lifestyle behind for love. When said love dies, Wick (just like all assassins in movies) loses himself and after his car gets stolen and his dog gets killed, he goes on a mission for revenge. Yeah, you’ve seen this story before.

My favourite thing about this movie, as you would expect, was the action sequences. Gun fights in movies are often predictable and seem to follow the same standard format; not since Equilibrium have I been so entertained by people shooting bullets at each other. Wick doesn’t just use his guns as devices for long-range death, often he is in point-blank range and the gun is an extension of his fist. The choreography involved in the gun-fights is amazing, as it blends martial arts with marksmanship. This really expands the traditional idea of how to use a gun to kill someone and also, because Wick often shoots people at point-blank rage, it also creates an idea of the rage he feels and his desire to impart pain on to others. This expresses both his animalistic thirst for vengeance and his efficiency as a killer.

Another thing I liked about the fight scenes is they felt very practical and raw at times. Wick is skilled and so are the people he’s fighting but the fights never feel like a choreographed dance.They’re edgy and at times sloppy and this makes them feel real. They don’t have the slickness of fight scenes from movies like The Matrix and it’s this lack of ‘slickness’ that gives them character. The fight scenes reminded me a lot of Taken, they don’t feel staged, it feels spontaneous and the hero actually has to work at it to win. You can see Wick struggle to win the fight and this makes his eventual victories more poignant.

Another great thing about this movie was the underground criminal world it creates. A world with it’s own currency, jargon and hierarchy. it almost felt like one of those great Guy Ritchie movies, where there are power players and an inherent structure to the criminal faternity but the movie never really explores the world so it kinda just remains nothing more than a good idea.

Keanu Reeves does an alright job as Wick. I think Keanu has a very niche acting range – he’s going to be full of angst, he’s going to speak just above a mumble and he’s gonna give you a lot of solemn stares. This all worked for Wick because he’s a dark character, he’s a man of focus and you wouldn’t want him to be too chatty. However, I think Keanu really should have stretched himself a bit. I got that Wick was this broken man, mourning the death of his wife and looking for vengeance but only because the script told me this and not because Keanu made me believe this. His performance is the definition of one-dimensional and this was really great when it came to the fight scenes but the moments between the fight scenes I could have done with some brooding, the kind that Liam Neeson and Denzel Washington do so well in movies like this.

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There a bunch of cameos from notable actors in the film, William Dafoe and Ian McShane show up as members of the underground criminal lifestyle that Wick once belonged to and they aren’t great but they do the job and extend the run time of the film.

This movie felt like it ran out of juice twenty minutes before the finale. In movies like this, the hero goes about killing a bunch of useless henchmen before getting to the kingpin – the person who caused them to once again go down this path of murder and vengeance. I’m not going to spoil anything but it Wick gets his vengeance and then, I think the director realised that he had another twenty minutes worth of film to fill and just kinda created another subplot at the end of the movie when it wasn’t really necessary. The action sequences also become quite dull near the end of the film and you get the same feeling as you do when you’ve been chewing on a piece of gum for too long.

This movie isn’t fantastic, it really sparkles at times – with the gun fights and the look at the criminal world – but it almost doesn’t trust itself enough to be original at times when it could be and uses cliches and overdone tactics far too often. If you’ve watched The Equaliser and enjoyed it (I mean, of course you did, because you have a brain and heart) you’ll really find this movie lacking. Both movies have a similar premise in terms of plot of action but The Equaliser pulls it off way better and Denzel is just a better leading man.

Overall, this is an alright movie, the action is worth a look but not worth a trip to the cinema, I think. Save your money for Christmas presents. 5/10

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