Time for another movie review and I have chosen again to ignore new releases – like I did with last week’s book review – and go for… well, not a classic, but a film that’s been available in DVD for a while.
And you might wonder, why John Wick?
For me, it’s one of those movies that is so on the edge of being bad, you’d think any mishap would push it over and make it fall onto the pile of dear-god-what-did-I-just-watch or that’s-ninety-minutes-of-my-life-I’ll-never-get-back. Yet, there are a few details that simply save it from those piles and push it onto that of weirdly mediocre films that become cult to a select geek demographic. I am one of those geeks.
SPOILER ALERT, by the way.
John Wick is a sad, sad man. His wife has just passed away, he is very lonely, but has an awesome car and an awesome house. Everything is neat and tidy and he can calmly go through a routine of quiet desperation. Until a delivery woman rings at his door and delivers an unexpected partying gift from his wife. A puppy!
Who could resist it, right?
So as the puppy settles, John needs to go out and buy him some food, as well as driving his car very dangerously across airport runways. I must point out, the dog was in the car with him, and yet survived. I can safely say, in real life, that dog would have been banged from one end of the car to the other but, of course, as he races, there is no mention of the dog, so we’ll have to imagine he left it with somebody in the hangar from which he speeds out of, #moviesillythings.
On his way back, still perfectly adorable puppy on the passenger seat, he stops at a gas station and his otherwise quiet life is interrupted by very loud rap music and some brat coming to ask him how much he would sell his car for, to which John replies it’s not for sale. Brat says something in Russian and is surprised when Wick replies in kind.
Brat does what all brats do and breaks into his house, beats John Wick to a pulp, kills the dog (yes, you read that right!) and steals his car.
Now, I will dispense you from a picture of the post-attack sadness, because even thinking about it makes me tear up. I swear, I might need to stop watching movies altogether.
What ensues is one hour and twenty five minutes of killing and fighting in an attempt to avenge the death of the puppy. I can genuinely say, this is the single biggest redeeming feature of this move. I mean, scroll up and look at that doggy. Now tell me you wouldn’t do the same?
Well, maybe I wouldn’t, but that’s because I don’t have the special set of skills John Wick does.
But at this stage you don’t actually know anything about John. You start guessing, though, when brat brings the car to the shop and shop owner, John Leguizamo, recognizes the car and slaps the brat stupid. Leguizamo’s character knows what’s coming and prepares with a drink as he receives the call from powerful brat’s daddy, Russian mafia boss, Viggo, who demands to know why he slapped his kid.
I’d have said ‘because your son is a brat’, but Leguizamo explains what happened, to which Viggo replies with an all telling ‘oh’ and hangs up. He then proceeds to slap his own kid silly.
These simple, straightforward reactions of these two characters are already a sign of the magnitude of the brat’s f**k up.
The rest is Viggo trying to save his kid and himself, and John Wick not caring.
Action movies often hit you with one liners like McClane’s famous ‘yippee ki yay, motherfucker’, Leonidas’s ‘This is Sparta!’ or Tony Montana’s ‘Say hello to my little friend!’. Well, where Die Hard, 300 and Scarface have catchphrases, John Wick has silence. Our hero is not the type to waste breath. He won’t even waste breath on listening. When Viggo calls him to try to talk sense into him, Wick doesn’t say a word and puts the phone down on him. When Viggo’s lawyer (also present and whose purpose in this movie I still have the decipher) asks him what Wick said, Viggo replies ‘Enough’. Wick’s lack of verbal wit is not because he can’t deliver it, it’s because he can’t be bothered, and this is yet another key writing device (or lack thereof) that makes John Wick so successful for me.
As you might have gathered by my comments above, though, this movie is far from being without fault. The initial exposition is very slow and seems to last forever. The silences may shine for their brilliancy but that might be because of some of the scripts lines which are far less luminous.
And then there is Keanu Reeves. Now, I love Keanu Reeves. I like how down to Earth he is, and I love some of his movies, but I find his acting skills are not to my liking. I wouldn’t put him in my top 50 best actors list, let’s leave it at that. Still, he does a great job in certain movies and this is one of them.
The bottom line is, if you like action movies and you are a dog lover, you absolutely should watch John Wick, especially in preparation for the next installment of an unexpected saga, coming to you next year.
The trailer looks good. I mean, there is John, a dog, a car, an Italian suit and I’ve even glimpsed at a couple of brats, although maybe they have nothing to do with anything.
Potential downfall, there must be at least four catchphrases in that trailer alone. This is not what I’ve come to love John for, just saying.
Let’s just hope the dog survives this one, though.