Wednesday, October 22, 2014

John Wick review: Simple plot, exquisite action

This review was first posted on Geek Crusade . Verdict: 4.5 out of 5 stars. Finally! An action movie without thinly woven storylines dra...

This review was first posted on Geek Crusade.

Verdict: 4.5 out of 5 stars. Finally! An action movie without thinly woven storylines draped all over it, taking attention away from what you are really there for – lots of nail biting, adrenaline pumping fights and stone-cold violence.
Call me a critic, but there are very few action movies that I can fully appreciate. And the list gets even narrower when it comes to shoot-em-up movies. So I was a bit sceptical when I first heard about John Wick.

The movie starts out looking like any other shoot-em-up film: it’s about a (yawn) former contract killer going on a rampage to seek revenge. Keanu Reeves stars as the protagonist who leaves the killing business for a girl who later becomes his wife. He is widowed shortly after but seeks comfort in his dog, the last gift that his wife left him.

One night, the ignorant son of a mobster decides to break into Wick’s house, beat him up, steal his car, and kill his dog. And I guess you can predict what typically happens from here. Typically.
Keanu could sense that the violence was about to start. ©Lionsgate

Boy, was I in for a surprise.

You see, I find that many movies of this genre try to give the characters some kind of higher purpose to fulfil. Maybe they have to rescue a girl from the evil clutches of the enemy. Or they are fighting for the sake of their loved ones.

Or they are trying to secure some information encrypted in a hard drive. Or they are trying to prevent the outbreak of a deadly virus. John Wick is different. He’s neither noble nor gallant nor friendly. This movie is just about an angsty guy who wants to kill the dude who murdered his dog. No twists, no subplots. The end. SURPRISE!
“I wuff you, puppy. Wuff wuff wuff.” ©Lionsgate

The beauty of this very simple plot is that it gives the producers so much more time to focus on the important stuff – the Gun Fu. The fighting and shooting scenes are masterfully choreographed. Not only was every strike and blow deliberate and well-executed, but they sort of flowed into each other.

Sorry to make the tough guy action sound sissy, but I felt like I was watching a graceful dance performance.
And 5-6-7-8! ©Lionsgate

It really goes to show what can be achieved when you have two fight choreographers, namely David Leitch and Reeve’s stunt double Chad Stahelski, as directors. You get flawless fight sequences that other directors can only dream of. Possibly because they are more concerned with other frivolous things like a having a more well-rounded plot.
“Take that, well-rounded plot!” ©Lionsgate

It’s also nice to know that Reeves hasn’t lost his touch. Even at 50, he can still kick lots of butt, and take pride in looking good while doing so. The stony and quietly ruthless persona that he brings to the table never leaves him throughout the movie, which is a nice change from regular action movies where the main character inevitably falters because of, say, lost love.

In fact, the action and acting was so good that you almost forget to spot Willem Dafoe and Ian McShane playing the roles of Wick’s old acquaintances.

There’s nothing really bad to say about this movie really. I stepped in expecting mediocre action and a half-baked storyline, but what I got in return was mind-blowing action and the most basic of plots.

Did it work for me? Hell, yes.

The movie opens in Singapore tomorrow. Let us know your thoughts on our John Wick review!

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