Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Review: John Wick

World of Blackout Film Review

John Wick Poster

John Wick
Cert: 15 / 101 mins / Dir. Chad Stahelski / Trailer
WoB Rating: 5/7

Screenwriting Rule #1: You can't kill the dog. Screenwriting Rule #2: If a catalyst is needed to transform Ted Theodore Logan into an unstoppable, vengeance-fuelled murderer for a 100-minute rampage… okay, maybe you can kill the dog.

And so, the ever youthful Keanu Reeves grows out a scraggly-beard and has another shot at box-office resurgence with John Wick, the atrociously titled action flick*1 which feels like it should have been adapted from a cult graphic novel, although actually wasn't. Playing a retired hitman who's brought back to his old haunts when a group of Russian mobsters kill John's final memento from his deceased wife, Reeves has to work through the seven stages of grief before the ink's dried on the first act. And it has to be said, he's not really one for emoting sadness. Or emoting.

Fortunately, Keanu's action-chops are far more acceptable, and his anger-mode (read: punching, stabbing and shooting) is surprisingly above average. In order to capitalise on this, the aforementioned first act is thankfully compact, and as soon as KR has ruined a perfectly good garage-floor to recover his beloved firearms, we can begin with All The Shooting™, which I'll assume is why you'd be watching (I know I was). By the time the action moves from Keanu's secluded bachelor pad*2 and into the streets, hotels and nightclubs of New York, the floor is littered with shell-casings, the walls are decorated with plumes of blood and the red-mist truly descends.

For all the claret, the proceedings are certainly more action-oriented than gory, but it's still the most unapologetically violent 15-rated movie I've seen in a long time, and gloriously so. Many criticisms will be levelled at John Wick, mostly deservedly, but it's a film which knows how to have fun. Incredibly po-faced fun with a bodycount of 84*3, but fun nonetheless. Reeves is clearly enjoying himself, and his supporting cast are all taking things far too seriously, including Swedish actor Michael Nyqvist starring as Russian mob-boss Viggo, who ends the film with a police caution for failing to control an accent in a built-up area.

Truth be told, John Wick was never going to be a performance-piece, but it is great at what it does. And if you happen to enjoy watching a terrified-looking Alfie Allen being chased around by a crazed gunman for an hour and a half, that's a bonus, too.

Is this film worth paying £10+ to see?
If you like them big, loud, and almost indescribably daft… yes.

Well, I don't like the cinema. Buy it, rent it, or wait for it to be on telly?
A rental should do you unless you're a glutton for repeated loud bangs.

Does this film represent the best work of the leading performer(s)?
Well that's a sore subject with Mr Reeves, but the honest answer is 'no'.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
It almost certainly does.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
I won't.

Oh, and is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
Not that I heard. Which seems ridiculous.

…but what's the Star Wars connection?
One of Keanu Reeves' earliest film roles was in 1986's Youngblood, which also starred Fionnula Flanagan, aka Catarine Towani from the Ewoks: Caravan of Courage movie.
Oh, yeah! OLD-SCHOOL!

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 With, it has to be said, an atrocious tagline to accompany it. "Don't set him off…". I assume this is supposed to be a play on 'wick', as in the fuse for a bomb? Personally, I read it more like a fireworks-satefy-instruction-leaflet. "Once lit, do not return to John Wick under any circumstances…", or "For safety reasons, always keep John Wick stored in a biscuit-tin in a cool, dry place, out of the reach of children…" would be far better taglines.

*2 Not that it was a bachelor pad when he bought it, of course. What? Too soon?

*3 85 if you include the dog. WHAT? Anyway, John Wick himself only kills 76 people, the other 8 are killed by supporting characters. I think that's what they call 'balance'.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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