FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE REVIEW: “John Wick” is the movie I got a chance to see tonight, which stars Keanu Reeves (The Matrix, Constantine ), Michael Nyqvist (Mission: Impossible- Ghost Protocol, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo ), Alfie Allen (Atonement, Game of Thrones [TV series]), Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man , Finding Nemo), Adrianne Palicki (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. [TV series], Red Dawn ), Dean Winters (Oz [TV series], P.S. I Love You), Ian McShane (Hot Rod, Kung Fu Panda), Lance Reddick (Fringe [TV series], Lost [TV series]), John Leguizamo (Ice Age, Romeo + Juliet), Clarke Peters (The Wire [TV series], Notting Hill), and Bridget Moynahan (I, Robot, Blue Blood [TV series]). It is the directorial debuts of Chad Stahelski and David Leitch. John Wick (Reeves) is a former hit man for the mob who retired because he fell in love. Life was great for five years until his wife, Helen (Moynahan), passed away. Grief-stricken, Wick couldn’t think his life could get any worse. But it did. Soon after encountering the son of the boss he used to work for at a gas station, he breaks into Wick’s home, steals his car and kills his dog that his deceased wife gave him as her last gift. Now, John Wick is on a revenge mission and will stop at nothing to murder the young man who crossed paths with him, even if it means dealing with his former boss and his henchmen.
A tagline that this movie tends to go by with reviewers is “Keanu Reeves is back” or “his best performance since ‘The Matrix’.” I never really thought he was gone, making movies that I thought did well after his stellar job in “The Matrix” franchise including “Constatine” (2005) and even “Something’s Gotta Give”. They are right on one thing however: this film is really good. I was itching to see this movie for some time, but haven’t gotten the chance to. Expectations were high for this one and most of them were met to say the least. But enough small talk, let’s get into the real meat of this review. This film has a very promising concept, and it may have been done before (I don’t know to be honest), but still gave its own originality. What made this plot workable was its characters. I gotta tell you, they really make you hate the villains in this film and it is marvelous. Some films struggle to deal out a good villain and at times, I could care less about them (like with my review for “Seventh Son”). The writers and directors tackled this well, giving you a reason to hate them in the beginning and carrying on my hatred in the way they acted through their actions throughout. Another reason why this film held up is Keanu Reeves. The man is awesome. No matter how old the guy gets he still proves himself fully capable of being epic in fighting scenes and performances. You could connect with his character and feel for him, making him a worthy, sinful hero. While I’m on the topic of characters and acting, I will say that everyone did a great job in this. I never expected there to be so many stars I knew. It was great to see Lance Reddick as the hotel clerk since I loved his performance as Broyles in the TV series “Fringe”. But in all sincerity, the best supporting actor in this film has to be Willem Dafoe. Although his character was hard to comprehend in terms of his actions at times, he still gave a fantastic performance nonetheless. Off the topic of people, I believe my favorite part of this whole movie is the hotel John Wick stays at. The whole idea of it is genius. I won’t spoil what it is in case you want to watch it, but I will say that if they made a movie centered on this hotel, I would watch it. The action scenes in this film have to be some of the best choreographed, and I understand why: the directors of this film are stuntmen and stunt coordinators. Yes, this is their first directorial debut and with their background this movie gains an advantage. What makes the fighting scenes so fantastic is the shots last a longer time than most. I am actually able to see what is going on in one shot instead of having to be told in several cuts. It makes it more free-flowing and really fleshes out the skills of the characters themselves. Lastly, another thing I love about this film is the cinematography. It is something different and fresh. An example of how good it is, is how they blend flashbacks and present-time seamlessly without taking too much time. In the beginning, you get a rundown of John Wick’s love life while he gets up to make coffee. They are quick cuts with scratchy transitions and they do their job. Typically films take all the time in the world to explain how things came to be in flashbacks and while some movies pull it off, others take too long. This film keeps you keen on the present while at the same time showing you what happened earlier. It helps to stay focused on what is going on at hand with no detours. With all of these pros said, I find myself at the issues I discovered laced in this movie. First off, I felt very mixed about the ending. The endgame was fine, but the execution didn’t do its job. I won’t spoil what happens. There are just things that couldn’t happen in terms of the final (and I mean the FINAL) fight with the casualties hard to come back from. I expected something a little more sad and realistic. The last con I have is more of little minor ones which can come from nitpicking this film of anything that doesn’t fit or can’t happen realistically. Like the beginning fight and how the police didn’t dare deal with anything. Usually all movies have these little issues. Overall this is a gritty action film that is both fun and gripping. I had a great time watching it despite its flaws and I feel that anyone will enjoy it. I recommend anyone who is the right age to see it! FINAL SCORE: 92%=Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: