John Wick (2014)
Film: I’m not sure when it was that Keanu Reeves became some kind of Hollywood darling, but I do know that there is very few of his films that I haven’t enjoyed.
John Wick blasted out of nowhere in 2014 and even though it took me maybe a year to see it, I really enjoyed it from that first watch. This film really lies in my wheelhouse of the main character being an almost superhuman machine, a love which started with James Bond films, and trickled through many other films starring similar characters like Jack Reacher, Alex Cross, Jack Ryan, Lisbeth Salander, Lorraine Broughton and their ilk. I think the reason I like Call of Duty and the Tom Clancy video games is because it’s a chance to play as one of these types of heroes, with cutting edge gadgets and weapons, and violent adventure.
One of the things that makes this film such an interesting watch is the absolute amazing stunts, which is to be expected when one considers the director is Chad Stahelski, a former stunt co-ordinator on action films like The Hunger Games, The Wolverine and Deadpool 2. Apparently he directed this film with David Leitch who has a similar pedigree but was uncredited. It was written by Derek Kolstad, who wrote the other two Wick films, the Bob Odenkirk vehicle Nobody and a few episodes of a marvel’s entry into the espionage world, The Falcon and Winter Soldier.
The film tells of John Wick (Keanu Reeves), an ex-assassin and ‘problem solver’ for the Russian mafia who has retired his guns, and enjoy a quiet, married life. This life is destroyed when his wife tragically passes away, but as a last gift, he receives a puppy from her because he needs someone to soften him.
Unfortunately, by chance on the day of his wife’s funeral, Wick meets up with Iosef (Alfie Allen), the son of Wick’s ex-employer, Russian mafia boss Viggo (Michael Nyqvist), and he and his crew after spotting Wicks lovely ‘69 Mustang, decide to steal it. They break into his home, assault him, kill the puppy and steal his car.
This opens a can of worms that cannot be unopened. Viggo is so afraid of Wick he puts a two million dollar contract out on him, a contract picked up by Marcus (Willem DaFoe) and Miss Perkins (Adrianne Palicki), but as we, the viewers, start to explore the underground world of assassin’s, we discover that not everything is as it seems…
Being directed by a stunt expert means that the highlights of this film are certainly the gunplay, the fighting and the car stunts. For want of a better term, the fight/ gunfight scenes are almost sophisticated and beautifully ballet-like in its execution, if you’ll excuse the pun. This doesn’t stop with the human contact stuff either, every car scene is like some kind of death-dealing gymkhana that is stunning to watch.
The actors that turn up are an interesting mix too. In addition to those mentioned previously, Ian McShane, Dean Winters, Bridget Moynahan, John Leguizamo, David Patrick Kelly and Kevin Nash turn up. Every time a face I knew turned up, especially Kelly, I was pretty pumped.
If I am to criticise this movie for anything, it is that it’s story is a generic revenge tale. The choreography is really spectacular, but when you sit down and think about the story, there’s really nothing to it. The world that has been created is quite fascinating, but the main characters motivations are action film generic-ishness of the highest order.
Extras: The disc opens with trailers for Good People and A Most Violent Year before we get to the main menu screen.
There are several extras, most of them under ten minutes, but there is a feature length audio commentary with directors Leitch and Stahelski which is actually quite a thorough look into the making of the film.
Don’t F*ck with John Wick looks at all the driving, shooting and fighting training Keanu Reeves went through to perform the role of John Wick. Honestly I went into a massive deep dive with Reeves’ training and found a bunch of stuff on YouTube about it all.
Calling in the Cavalry talks about the creation of the script and the characters.
Destiny of a Collective looks at Stahelski and Leitch’s history in stunts and stunt performance.
The Assassin’s Code takes us into the world of the assassins in the film. It shows how their world looks completely different to our ‘normal’ world.
The Red Circle discusses the design of the club and the characters that hang out there.
N.Y.C. Noir looks at the design and look of the New York in the film.
WISIA: This DOES get regular watches. It may be generic revenge, but it’s GOOD generic revenge.
This review was done with the Australian Bluray release of the film.