Movie Review: John Wick (2014)

Posted: July 3, 2015 in Action, Drama
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John Wick

John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is a former assassin who loses his wife Helen (Bridget Moynihan) to an illness suspiciously like cancer.  After his wife passes away, she sends John a beagle puppy, because he needs something to love. Wick also drives a 1969 Ford Mustang, which he also loves very much.  Trouble is, the son of a Russian mobster Iosef Tarasov (Alfie Allen) likes the Mustang too, and so Iosef steals it, and kills the dog.  Naturally, John must seek revenge.  But Iosef’s dad, Viggo (Michael Nyquist) puts a hit on John with the help of other assassins, Marcus (Willem Dafoe) and Ms. Perkins. (Adrienne Palicki) Who kills whom first?

John Wick starts off promisingly enough, John morns his wife, he bonds with his dog, and I was hoping, praying, that this movie would be unique. But about a half an hour in, it quickly devolves into a hail of bullets, fast cars, and blood. In all those bullets, none of the main characters gets kill until the last 10 minutes, and John Wick, ace assassin can’t seem to kill his main targets. John Wick is nothing more than a series of thinly related events, rather than a story. Thinly related events used as an excuse for violence, countless acts of violence.  And why does John Wick perpetrate all this violence, a dead dog?  I like dogs as much as anyone, but is a dog the reason to go on a killing spree?  No.  The villains are predictable too, Putin gives the United States a rough time over the Ukraine, and suddenly many Hollywood bad guys are Russian. The ending is beyond predictable, who do you think survives?

Acting?  You want acting from a Keanu Reeves movie?  Really?  Reeves gives the same wooden, surfer boy reading of his lines that he always gives, he tries to cry, but it just ends up looking and sounding silly.   Christoph Waltz would have been great in the Michael Nyquist gangster role, but Nyquist tries hard to bring some skills to his part.  The rest of the actors are really not worth mentioning.

Yes, the movie is stylish and visually appealing, fast cars, loud music, great production values.  There’s even a crane shot of rainfaill, which is visually dramatic, and the flashbacks are in short, sharp, bursts, which is effective in telling the backstory.  But the impressive visuals are like waving a shiny object in front of a person with a short attention span, and saying, ‘Never mind the story, look at the glitzy visuals’. In the end, John Wick was style over substance, and that’s never a good thing.

John Wick:  The story burns out much too quickly.

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