Saturday, 7 March 2015

John Wick (2014)

Holy shit! excuse my French but...holy shit!! what has happened to Keanu Reeves?! Ever since 'The Matrix' he's kinda turned into this cult action man starring in a few kickass action movies. First it was 'Man of Tai Chi' then '47 Ronin' and now this! I think Reeves has one of the most topsy turvy filmographies around, up and down and from one end of the genre spectrum to the other. To top it all despite Reeves doing all this gung-ho stuff he never actually looks fit, he always looks like...well, a couch potatoe.

So what's going on here, well its pretty simple really. Reeves plays John Wick, a retired assassin who was quite literately the best of the best, a one man army who took down entire syndicates of bad guys. One day some dumb Russian mobsters follow him home, break in, beat him up and wreck his place, all to steal his hotrod Mustang...oh and they kill his adorable new puppy too. Thing is Wick's wife had recently passed away leaving him the puppy, so this little dog meant a lot to Wick...A LOT! Plus the little thing is so damn cute and nobody likes to see doggies get hurt or abused. So what happens next you ask...well Wick goes off the deep end and methodically takes out every one of the Russian mobsters as he searches for the one who killed his dog. He basically goes to war against the mob.

OK so when I first heard of this I had no idea what this movie was about with its obscure title, it could of been some Dickensian tale for all I knew. Of course now we all know...its a videogame, OK that's being a bit harsh but lets be honest here this is a very simplistic story of revenge that caters for one thing. That's totally fine of course, the reason being because the movie knows this, everyone involved knew what they were making and knew who the target audience would be. The movie is a balls to the wall shoot em up with lots of hard core fisticuffs and plenty of brain splattering which makes no excuses. I might add that almost all the blood splattering appeared to be CGI I'm afraid, they still can't break that habit.

There is nothing new to see here as I'm sure most will have already guessed. Reeves looks super slick in designer made to measure suits, he drives super slick muscle cars, the bad guys drive black BMW's, every character appears to be very very rich, there is a token sexy female assassin, a token old mentor assassin, loads of faceless henchmen and lots of highly super slick fight choreography with shit loads of gun porn. Been there, seen it, done it, vomited on the t-shirt. But of course we all knew this, that's what you paid for when you saw the movie, hence I can't really knock it for that.

Apart from the usual shenanigans there were one or two things that stood out. The hotel Continental was a nice touch, a hotel that caters specifically for assassins (wealthy ones) and has a special code of honour. You are not allowed to carry out any business on the premises, if you do then you get executed apparently. I liked the quiet calm demeanor of the place, the unassuming yet lavish appearance and the well spoken (and again very calm and quiet) hotel receptionist. Although when they give Wick a free super slick, super black brand new Mustang just like that, it felt a bit too...superhero-ish. I liked how the whole movie had this graphic novel vibe to it, it felt much more solid and well put together than your average silly action thriller and the fact that Wick is vulnerable and gets injured.

On the flip side the unoriginal, stereotypcial, cliched moments really made me groan despite the fact you know to expect that. As said Wick does get injured but it never really stops him, he gets some nasty cuts and bruises yet carries on because he's basically a super dude. Some of the locations for the action sequences were so unbelieveably cliche and the main reason why it made me think I was watching a videogame adaptation. The obligatory neon lit uber wealthy nightclub shootout scenario with lots of half naked ultra hot women meandering around (thank you 'Blade').
Then of course you have the obligatory capture and torture of Wick, the main boss has the opportunity to kill Wick right there but instead decides to talk and walk off leaving it to his henchmen (thank you Bond). I already mentioned the token sexy female assassin in tight clothes, throw in some car chases in expensive cars, the fact its all at night...oh and the fact that despite the main boss character explaining how lethal and invincible Wick is...he continuously antagonises him! even after Wick lets him off.

Its all about the fast paced kinetic action obviously, the movie aims to throw that in your face and it does so perfectly. Is it any good other than that? well no not really, like I said its cliched to the hilt and very formulaic, its been done before. The film is engaging for sure, you wanna see that Russian asshole nailed for killing that cute lill puppy...but I wouldn't say its a good film. It does what it does well, it does what you (the target audience) want. Its a throwaway popcorn flick that is merely much more glossy than most.

On a final note I have heard about a franchise springing up from this. I will go on record now saying I believe that to be a bad idea, this is clearly a one shot deal flick, lightning in a bottle, a one off rollercoaster. Making more of these will most probably result in failure because the idea doesn't require it, its a simple silly flick that doesn't need a franchise. How can you expand on this anyway? have Wick killing yet more hordes of bad guys somewhere else because they stole his newspaper? The initial surprise and awe has been used on this first movie, you won't get that again, recent example easily being 'Taken'.