Movie Review – John Wick (2014)

Director: Chad Stahelski

Stars: Keanu Reeves, Adrianne Palicki, Alfie Allen, Michael Nyqvist, Willem Dafoe, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo

John Wick (Reeves) is a hitman who managed to escape the deadly lifestyle. However, a group of Russian gangsters kill his dog so Wick returns to the fold to take vengeance on them.

I’d heard a lot of good things about John Wick and it is a movie that I thought I would enjoy. In fact, the whole thing had a graphic novel feel to it. The way the plot progressed and many stagings of the scene felt like they could have been torn from the pages of a comic book and put up on the screen. The action is the highlight here, and it’s choreographed superbly. The fight scenes are dramatic, impactful, and tense. My friend described the main character as ‘an artist with a gun,’ which is an apt description. One thing I particularly loved is that Wick made sure each kill was definite by performing a headshot even when the enemy was down on the floor. It gave the film an added sense of realism.

And really, aside from the action the world that John Wick presents is intriguing. Since it’s only around an hour and a half long there’s not much time to fully develop the underground society of hitmen, but there are nice touches that provide a fleshed out world the characters inhabit. Things like a hotel where hitmen can stay and don’t have to worry about being taken out just add depth to what was essentially a thin plot.

There were some stylistic flourishes as well, mainly in the subtitles. It wasn’t really necessary but it did help to liven up the subtitles and make them feel a part of the scene rather than have them hanging limply at the bottom, which is what happens in most films. I felt the director was good at creating atmospheric scenes, the fight in the club being a notable example.

But I can’t say I think  of this film as highly as some other people. I did like it and it’s extremely cool and stylish, but the plot is one note and it doesn’t feel like there’s an escalating progression to it. Wick moves through, kills some guys, moves, kills guys, and while a lot of the deaths are entertaining and cool it still gets repetitive in parts. There’s also a point where the bad guy manages to capture Wick and yet inexplicably decides not to kill him, which really made no sense.

So I think it’s worth watching if you like action films. It’s really stylish and even though the plot isn’t anything new it feels fresh. I like the little touches of a deeper world and it’s nice to see a few recognisable actors in small parts. There are a couple of points where the film feels anticlimactic though, so watch out for that.

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