A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
A modern action film starring a former champion of the genre, Russian mobsters, gunfights, vengeance and cheesy one-liners directed by two stuntmen – what’s to love there?
Well to put it bluntly, a surprising amount! “John Wick”, Keanu Reeves’ return to form, is a contemporary action picture full of potency and high-octane energy. This was one that didn’t spark much of a reaction for me upon it’s announcement mid-2014, but following solid reviews from various sources, I wanted to see for myself what all the fuss was about. I’m quite glad I did.
‘Mindless fun’; a term used to describe a film that you can watch that mildly entertains you on a lazy Sunday afternoon with no major requirements of attention or intellect.
“John Wick” is one of those films, but it’s one that is genuinely entertaining and possesses some true passion; reminiscent of the classics that defined the action genre in general.
John Wick (Reeves) is a former hit-man with a particular set of skills. Skills that make me a nightma…. I’ll stop…
After losing his wife, Wick’s only lasting memory of her lives through his beloved dog, and when his little pooch is killed by the dirty Russian mob, Wick reloads his guns, straightens his tie and brings impassioned, vengeful and relentless retribution along with him once again.
“John Wick” has several positives to admire, mostly surrounding the efforts of Reeves. It’s refreshing to see Neo back in action, but the “good” kind of action.
Firstly, his performance and emotions run high, and it’s clear he is heavily invested in the film (which has severe franchise potential). And secondly, he performs his own stunts, which is a true credit to the 50-year-old. With the reputation of being a dull-faced, emotionless actor, Reeves is full of passion and raw aggression as he knocks off all the leftover Russians that Denzel forgot to deal with in “The Equalizer”.
Russians! Why do all action antagonists have to be Ruskis nowadays?
With a villain who is not nearly as obvious as “The Equalizer’s” Vladimir Pushkin, Michael Nyqvist’s Viggo Tarasov is fine but so painfully cliche. Drinking vodka, smoking cigarettes, sitting in front of a fire being whilst sharply dressed, Tarasov fits the mould of a archetypal “Bad Guy” of today.
This lets the film down a bit, but ultimately, the hero of Wick makes up for it all.
The film looks superbly sleek in it’s editing, cinematography and stylistic teal overlay. There is a nightclub scene for the ages which is endlessly engaging and the highlight of the film for me.
If you’re not interested in seeing the film or merely curious as to whether it’s for you, seek out this scene and see what you think. If you’re an action fan, it’s definitely up your alley!
The cast was surprisingly star-studded for the most part. Willem Dafoe gets a minor but significant part to play, as does John Leguizamo, although he seemed to only occupy the first act which seemed a waist.
Theon Greyjoy himself, Alfie Allen gets a second chance to protect his nether-regions as the arrogant and rather pathetic son of Viggo Tarasov. His character of Iosef is very annoying, very dim-witted and very cliche, however he does a fine enough job of it, that I’m inclined to commend rather than grill him.
I sincerely hope we can see more of the Keanu Reeves exhibited in “John Wick”. His performance was definitive for this point in his career and demonstrates that he still has what it takes to pump out a solid and genuine action picture.
This isn’t one of the year’s best films, but it’s definitely one of the year’s best films of the genre.
It’s precise, action-packed and a whole lot of fun. Plus, as previously mentioned, it has one of the year’s best scenes around the halfway mark.
For a slick, schmick action flick, “Wick” is my pick!