Otaku Film Review: John Wick

25 Oct

JohnWickDirectors: David Leitch and Chad Stahelski

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Willem Dafoe, Adrianne Palicki

E: John Wick is one of those films where Keanu Reeves lays down the law heavy, if he was an enforcement officer. Instead, he’s a former hitman that everyone in New York respected. But he found a life outside of the seedy underground that operates. There’s a lady he loved, but when she passed away due to cancer and left him an adorable puppy, life seemed good. However, after meeting one spoiled brat of a Russian kingpin, Iosef Tarasov (Alfie Allen), that quickly changes. Much of the film speeds along like Terminator 2 meets The Raid 2.

J: And speed along it does with lots of gunplay involving fluid fight scenes. You can tell the action sequences were choreographed and it looks good in the finished film. And Reeves as John Wicks wasn’t just respected, he was also feared even by the criminal underworld.

E: He moreorless grunts and growls at nearly everyone that he has a grudge against. In the closeups, cinematographer peeks at Reeves’ soul. This skill with the camera teeters between a bit of shaky cam and steady cam moments to give this film a kinetic energy that will keep people glued to the screen. Directors David Leitch and Chad Stahelski nicely manages the pace so that the narrative (what little of it) reveals itself to the viewer in what kind of world Wick left. Even the person hired to slow him down, Marcus (Willem Dafoe), shows where his loyalty lies. In th is film, there’s a code of honour amongst thieves that must be respected.

J: There are even extra special services that are only available to the criminals who can afford them. For example, think of how a company would steam clean carpets but to the criminal element they would receive service that would cover more than just awful coffee stains. The way these services are presented in the film makes one think such things could be plausible. And one of the best lines from the film came out of Keanu’s attempt at having his shirt dry cleaned.

But even through the fast pace action, a number of actors managed to loom large in this film. It is a testament to their abilities. Adrianne Palicki was deliciously evil as hitman Ms. Perkins, the woman who is willing to break the laws on both sides of the fence if it’s in her own benefit. Clarke Peters played Harry, a hitman from the old school who could not be dissuaded from breaking the code even if bribed with a large sum of money. And John Leguizamo as Aureilo the chop shop owner is one of those actors who gets better with age, he had such a presence in his only scene.

E: Although bits of the plot was superfluous and there isn’t much meat to a revenge driven tale, I found myself enjoying most of the film. This movie is one of those throwback 80’s style (fill in this blank) ninja type movies where you’re there to thrill to the skill (or lack thereof) of the fights or kills that goes on. I’m sure Quentin Tarantino would approve of this movie and if he was to put his stamp on it, it’d be much more violent. I’m sure Leitch would benefit from Tarantino’s guidance but he’s doing just fine on his own. As a directorial debut, there’s very little to quibble over. When considering his background as a stunt coordinator in many a film, he knows where to put the emphasis is delivering the goods that will entertain the masses. Hint: don’t try to over think where this movie is headed and just watch it for the candy.

J: Tarantino would’ve ruined the feel of this film. It has a neon look and feel. It is murder of and by the smartly dressed. If there is at least one thing this film makes known is that it carries a certain amount of class. I am surprised no cocktails were within as easy reach as the characters’ sidearms. Out of all of this, Keanu Reeves leads the way because he manages to pull off such class with ease.

Leitch and Stahelski could easily make their next action film revolve around the Yakuza. With their sense of style it could easily backfire and come off as a film of recruitment rather than a film of consequence.

The Wind up Geek’s score: 4 out of 5

The Vintage Tempest’s score: 4 out of 5

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