It’s another addition of D&D Mixed Reviews. This time myself (Derek) and Denis will be looking at the action thriller John Wick. As per the gimmick we’ll be judging the film in four categories PLOT, PERFORMANCES, PRODUCTION and OVERALL film quality and we’ll be ending the review with a rating of SEE IN THEATRE, WAIT FOR RENTAL or PASS. So let’s jump right in with a brief description of the films plot.
Keanu Reeves plays the titular character, a retired mob hitman trying to live a normal life. After his wife’s death his only companion is a dog, a gift from wife delivered days after she passed. After running into the son of a mob boss (Alfie Allen), Wick’s house is broken into. During the break-in Wick’s car is stole and his dog is killed.
Now looking for revenge, Wick comes out of retirement and hunts down the mob family that crossed him. However, the mob sends hitmen of their own to stop Wick. Wick must use his skills to dismantle the criminal empire he helped create.
While the plot might look like your basic revenge crime drama, John Wick uses the classic motif and plays a great deal with it. The film allows for little character building as we see Wick as a broken man who seeks vengeance. The thing that makes this different is how modern the film feels. Despite the 80s action premise, the film plays more like Taken then Rambo. The dialogue is gloriously cheesy at times letting the cast say some hilarious lines throughout the film. In the end it might walk and talk like a 80s action film, but this one is wearing modern clothes.
John Wick is presented in the vein of many revenge films where cool guy goes after bad guy. What makes or breaks them is their characters, and John Wick is fun to watch kick ass and our bad guy is wonderfully wacky. I would say more but it’s apparent that Derek’s said all that needs to be said. It’s a solid plot. Nuff said.
The real star of the film, as you’d imagine, is Reeves. After years of other roles you kind of forget that this guy was one of the better action stars of the early 2000s. Reeves plays the cold killer extremely well and even adding depth during the films opening with his short bursts of anger and grief. Backing Reeves is a cast of actors who spend little time on screen such as Willem Defoe, Adrianne Palicki, Ian McShane and even big Diesel himself Kevin Nash. While they might not get a lot of screen time they all get a chance to play off Reeves and have their moments and in the end that’s all you can ask for.
I was surprised how many recognizable faces popped up throughout the film, and it makes sense considering the filmmakers were stunt coordinators and knew exactly what they needed and who could provide that. Keanu is perfectly cast along with everyone else in the film and they embrace their characters with wonderful sincerity thats really nice to watch. Keanu cry’s in the movie, ya. So..get some of dat.
While I’m not to familiar with the films directors David Leitch and Chad Stahelski the pair end up making a fairly competent action film. While the talking heavy scenes might not be blocked in the most creative way, the action sequences make the film stand out. Instead of large scale goofy fights (short of the films final moments), the film uses smaller set pieces to show off Reeves already impressive fighting work. Backing up the direction is impressive editing. The film gives little backstory from Wick’s wife, but what we get is told visually with quickly cut scenes. We get the idea and move onto the action. The only knock I can give the film is its ending. The final 20 minutes seemed rushed and could have been extended. But even that is a small issue.
It looks like an action film. It’s got great cinematography and it all felt quite practical and well choreographed. I couldn’t tell if the blood squibs were real or digital, but still it was good. Ummmmmm, ya. I cant really remember much else. Let me be real folks, I liked this film. It was great. But I kinda wish it was a bit more ridiculous. I mean he kills people cause of his dead dog! Why is it so competent? This should be shlock! Ridiculous silly shlock, but it was just really well made. So I’m still struggling to really get a grip on how I feel about this film.
If you love action films, then John Wick is up your ally. It’s everything I was hoping for and more. Reeves shows us that he can still work in the action film world all while letting two new directors show off their craft. I’ll take Reeves over Liam Neeson any day and this just proves why. SEE IN THEATRE
The one thing I know for sure is that thankfully John Wick embraces all the badass and ridiculous elements of the genre equally. Making it a movie that I think virtually anyone can enjoy. SEE IN THEATRE
John Wick was produced by Summit Entertainment, Legendary Pictures, 87Eleven Productions and DefyNite Films. The was distributed by Entertainment One Films (Canada), Summit Entertainment (USA) and Lionsgate (Internationally).