John Wick – 4/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

john wickJohn Wick – 4/5 – When you go to the theaters; you go expecting certain things from the movie you’re about to watch.  There’s that subtle feeling deep inside that does pulls you in, regardless of the faults.  Sometimes I will come out of a film with this feeling.  In that rare moment, a film can just be consider a line of pure fun.  When that happens, no matter the faults, it will get praise.  In rare moments where context doesn’t matter, we have John Wick.  With so much great action and an ‘ok’ setup of a revenge story, John Wick is that guilty pleasure kind of film that delivers what you will call; that pure cinematic experience.

Premise:  A man with a past; John Wick goes on a tale of revenge seeking to destroy those who destroyed his life.

The act who fills in the role of John Wick is Keanu Reeves.  There’s not many times where you will put ‘good acting’ and ‘Keanu’ in the same sentence. This is that kind of film that fits his style of acting.  Keanu is what you will call a ‘typecast’ actor.  Even if he has a single dimension to his acting, when he gets cast in those specific roles, he excels.  Playing John Wick, Reeves shine in delivering a guy that is scary, brutal but believable.  He is an ex-hitman who’s pulled back into the underworld because of a certain incident.  When that happens, you watch him put his ‘assassin’ skills to work; and it is pure fun.  The acting here isn’t relied upon line delivery (as they are pretty stale) but on his choreographed action an interaction with others through his action (even if it isn’t fighting).  He shows fragile vigor; one that plays on the irony of someone to fear and someone that is slightly rusty since he was ‘retired’ from this game of killing.  Even for these complicated traits, Reeves delivers; making the audience feel his quest is purposeful (even if it’s stylized).   Outside of him, the rest of the cast are the basic/cookie cutter characters you find in this kind of film.   There are some notable actors in those roles (Willem Defoe (the trusty good friend); Ian McShane (the ominous neutral watch); Michael Nyqvist (the typical mob boss)) but it really isn’t important to go into any description at all.  This is the ‘John Wick’ show; and these other characters play ‘pawns’ in his scheme.   You can view the rest of the cast on the IMDB page.

As mentioned before, this film isn’t without its flaws.  Majority of this falls within the direction of the film.  From the start, you can tell this is going to be that predictable straight-forward revenge tale.  In the prologue, we are introduced to John Wick.  He is a man trying to live a peaceful life; even after his wife’s death.  He is then bestowed a loving gift from her; which we are marred with the typical ‘good things’ do last feeling.  His world seems to be on the rise, until a fateful day with a belligerent his ex-mob boss’s Son.  From here, his decides to return to the world he left years ago, and goes on this vengeful quest that leads a path of destruction.  From this point, the film doesn’t add any more elements to the narrative.  You see the predictable nature of linear storytelling, linking ‘event’s with no depth or any characterization.  The irony that plays here (far from other films and reviews I’ve done); it doesn’t matter.  When you go into watching certain films, you have to judge on the context of what the film is.  At the heart of this one is that it is a pure action film.  The charm is not in the direction or creating a a ‘deep’ story.  The whole importance of what makes this ‘story’ entertaining is John Wick (an ex-hitman) going on a crazed and fulfilling hunt to take out this Son and the whole mob as well.  What makes this tale even more invigorating is how personal the tale is brought on screen, and infused with those simple elements of storytelling.  The whole ‘revenge’ tale (even if cliché) plays for against a purposeful tone for John Wick.  That tone helps make it pure to the audience.  As to create a two coin fold,   this purity is shown through the Mob’s defense; showing how John Wick is fated to always be part of the ‘game’ and fighting for or against them.  This is what helps (combined with the action) link the films 3 acts.  No matter if it’s the first act and the ‘shocking’ confrontation, the second act and it’s ‘man vs. mob’ element or the third acts and the A vs. B concept that leads to the final (climax) confrontation, it is all raw, gritty and entertaining.  The one thing that puts this film higher than any typical revenge tale or ‘elder’ men fighting is that the direction finds a way to ground the fights.  The first fact is that there’s no ‘over-the-top’ explosion; which helps keep the fights ‘real’ on the screen. The other is how they combined stylized with substance.  You see the ‘hitman’ fantasy fighting of guns combined with choreographed fights.  This creates a sense of ‘shock’ with wholesome fluidity.  Once the film hits its epilogue, there is a whimsical feeling of completion of this ‘revenge’ tale, but one where you expect more from John Wick since he is ‘back in the game’.

The visuals of the film (combined with the action) have a relevant strong aura.  From the aspect of suburbia and the urban city element, it helps provide a place of methodical scenes.  In that method, you get a sense of the softness of ‘realism’ combined with the creation of the hitman ‘fantasy’.  There is a great balance between slick camera angles with ‘focal points’ on the gun fights.  This helps provide a visual appeal of vigor, strength and ‘heart-pumping’ action.  The score invigorate the action and visuals in the film.  Setting mood through subtlety, the music bleeds through softly on ‘crucial’ moments throughout this tale for John Wick.

John Wick is that rare film that, for all its obvious flaws, it doesn’t hinder the overall experience.  This is that film you give a high grade because it knows what kind of story it is, plays to its tropes and creates an entertaining experience.  If you’re a fan of Keanu Reeves or want to have fun with a great action movie to watch, this is one for you.  Check it out at the theaters, you won’t be disappointed.

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