Tuesday, 17 November 2015
John Wick (2014)
There's a lot to like about John Wick. It's a visually stylish film with great action choreography and exceptional use of sound: not just in the use of great and fitting music, but also in the use of (near-)silence, which is something few movies do well.
It also plays very much to Keanu Reeves' strengths as a lead (brooding good looks and the ability to be stoically monosyllabic) while populating the supporting roles with strong character actors like Willem Dafoe and Ian McShane. And it does a good job of creating interesting and distinguishable antagonists.
And yet it's only getting a qualified recommendation. There are two main reasons for this. The first is that the film is framed as a flashback, which rather kills any kind of suspense. The second is the execution of two fairly major subplots: one involving Dafoe's character and one involving a character played by Adrianne Palicki. The former half-heartedly makes gestures at misdirection before ending in a manner that has been blindingly obvious since halfway through the film. The latter ... well its setup is a lot better but its conclusion is the dampest of damp squibs.
Still, you're probably not going to watch a film like John Wick for its deep nuances. You're going to watch it for the action, and on that front it delivers. Wick is a retired killer. He left the life in order to get married, but his wife has recently died. When hoodlums break into his home to steal his car - and incidentally to destroy the last gift his wife left for him, in a scene whose content means I will never recommend this film to my mother - Wick goes back to his old life in order to wreak his revenge.
That's pretty much the whole plot right there: straight up man-pain revenge fantasy. It's a sound enough basis on which to hang the resulting ninety minutes of action, and if the film occasionally feels a little emotionally empty, well ... you could argue that's a fair reflection of the characters.
Check it out if stylish action is your thing.