Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Film Review: John Wick (2014)

John Wick (Review)
United States/2014
Format Viewed for Review: VUDU
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...filled to the brim with stylish hand-to-hand combat and plenty of masterfully choreographed shootouts."

A retired hitman comes out of retirement after a group of thugs take everything from him.

John Wick is a simple but effective action film. The plot follows John Wick (Keanu Reeves), a retired hitman. After the death of his wife, Wick is left to grief alone. That is, until a puppy shows up at his door as a posthumous gift from his wife. However, just as Wick prepares to move forward with his life, a group of thugs break into his home, steal his car, and kill his dog. So, Wick returns to his old ways and begins hunting the man responsible—Ioseft, the naïve son of Viggo (Michael Nyqvist), a Russian mob boss. That's really all there is to the plot. It doesn't delve deeply into any of its characters, but it does enough to help you sympathize (or hate, in some cases). It leads to a strong climax and an expected ending.

John Wick is a film for action lovers. Did you like The Raid? Are you a fan of John Woo movies? If so, you're going to love this movie. It's filled to the brim with stylish hand-to-hand combat and plenty of masterfully choreographed shootouts. There are a few explosions, too! And, it's all packed into less than 100 minutes, so it doesn't overstay its welcome or become repetitive. There could have been more character development, but I suppose that's not really what the film was aiming for. I think my only issue with the film was some of its blatantly contrived scenes. Other than that, this is an incredible experience for action fans. What else is there to say, really?

Keanu Reeves performed well as the leading man. This is his type of role—a serious but not-too-deep character. That's not to say Reeves can't act, but he often lacks range. (Fortunately, he usually picks roles that fit him, like this one.) The supporting cast was a little over-the-top, but Michael Nyqvist and Willem Dafoe were great. The film was shot well, I loved the noir-ish lighting. The music was good, but it could have been better. The film was written by Derek Kolstad and directed by Chad Stahelski and David Leitch. The writing takes a simple approach, opting for a very easy-to-follow plot and some 'safe' characters—for want of a better word. For an action movie like this, it works out. The direction excels in creating a homage to classic action films while creating a personality of its own. The action sequences are superb, delivering beautiful chaos.

Overall, John Wick is a fantastic action film. It has a few issues, like its contrived scenes, but it's otherwise a stylish, fast-paced, and action-packed film. It is the perfect time killer, especially for action fans.

Score: 9/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood.

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