John Wick Movie Review

John Wick Movie Review

John Wick. It stars Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Adrianne Palicki, Willem Dafoe and was directed by Chad Stahelski. John Wick tells the story of former-hitman, John Wick, played by Keanu Reeves. Who’s left his former life behind to get married. Following the death of his wife due to illness. Wick is attacked by the Russian crime syndicate leader’s son, Iosef, played by Alfie Allen. Who steals his car and kills his dog, which was a parting gift from his wife.

John Wick features one of the most straight forward and simple plots you could have in a movie. It’s a revenge story through and through. But, you don’t have to dig too deep below that perceived simplicity before you realize that there’s more to this movie than initially meets the eye. Before watching the film, it could be easy for somebody to lump John Wick in with any number of revenge-driven action thrillers, but after actually seeing it, they would realize that this film is a uniquely compelling take on the genre that stands apart from the rest of its cinematic cohort.

There’s no doubt that John Wick is an action movie and I’ll get to the action in a minute, but this movie has an incredibly strong emotional core. Action for action’s sake can be fun and entertaining, but when a filmmaker is able to blend that action with an actual reason for its existence, you end up with something entirely different and far more compelling. The first ten minutes of this film is extremely effective at setting up the emotional foundation for the story and the character of John Wick.

The mostly dialogue-free introduction to our titular character nearly rivals the emotional impact of the opening minutes of Pixar’s Up and, with that backstory, we understand. We see his motivation and reasoning and we’re solidly in his corner throughout the movie, no matter what actions he takes. Speaking of actions, John Wick has some of the most entertaining and interesting action sequences I’ve ever seen in a movie. There are four or five big fight scenes and each one has its own unique and exciting elements that prevent the action from ever feeling monotonous.

I’ve seen plenty of movies that feature so much gunfire that it becomes meaningless and, ironically, boring to watch. But that’s not the case here. Guns play a major part in the fight sequences, but they never feel gratuitous. Every shot counts and every shot is part of an expertly choreographed and staged scene. The director’s background in stunt choreography really shines through, mixing grappling martial arts styles like judo and jujitsu with close-range tactical gun use; a blended style the choreographers aptly named gun-fu.

John Wick 2014 -
John Wick 2014 –

John Wick really is unlike most other action movies. The character of Wick is unlike the typical action movie hero. We can’t really consider him to be a good guy, but he’s the hero of the story. He’s an effective and brutal killing machine once provoked, but he remains a likable character throughout the film.  Alright, let’s talk about the pros and cons. Pro number one is definitely the action.

The second pro is the world of John Wick. Despite being a fairly simple revenge story, this film reveals an extremely interesting assassin underworld of New York City. With his return from retirement, Wick takes us along for the ride and introduces us to a whole host of characters and rules. Everywhere he goes, he encounters people he knows ñ probably not quite friends, but at least old associates. As far as cons go, I really don’t have any major issues with this movie.

I guess if I had to pick something, it’d probably be the visual style of the subtitles. They’re integrated into the shot rather than simply being at the bottom of the screen, which isn’t a bad thing.I’m gonna give John Wick 4 out of 5 paws. Even though it’s a pretty straight forward story, John Wick and his plight are extremely compelling.

I would recommend John Wick to anybody who’s a fan of action movies or revenge stories. The action in this film is incredibly satisfying and Wick does some amazing things without ever feeling over-the-top or unnatural. Everything has a slick, cool fluidity to it, but always remains gritty and visceral in its execution.  If you liked John Wick, I would recommend you check out A History of Violence for another former-hitman-forced-to-come-out-of-retirement story.

I would also recommend the 2004 remake of Man on Fire, starring Denzel Washington. It’s another emotionally-driven action story, this time centering around an abduction rather than just pure revenge. Finally, if you loved the fighting and general aesthetic of John Wick or just want a female twist on this type of film, be sure to check out Atomic Blonde, for some more fantastic action sequences. Alright, a couple of questions for you guys. Number one: Have you seen John Wick? If so, what’d you think of it? Number two: What’s your favorite revenge movie?


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