Wednesday, January 14, 2015

John Wick (2014)

Directors: Chad Stahelski, David Leitch
Writer:     Derek Kolstad
Cast:         Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Willem Dafoe

An ex-hitman comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that took everything from him. Well, his 1979 Mustang and his dog actually.

I am not really a fan of Keanu Reeves and consider him along with Orlando Bland (Copyright Mark Kermode) to be two actors who have made a career in Hollywood despite their very limited acting ability. 'Speed' is one film which is notorious for sustaining the careers of two questionable actors in Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock. To be fair to Keanu Reeves, he at least picks some interesting roles which can kind of mask his own ineptitude and many are a fan of his just because of his presence in Matrix trilogy. Similar to Matrix where Neo doesn't have to deliver many lines, the character John Wick is kind of suitable for him. Despite the extremely unattractive title for the film (John Carter anyone) the film has been getting very good reviews and I decided to take the plunge and it was well worth it.

It is a very fresh treatment of the assassin genre and works much better than shit like 'Taken' which just added a lot of cringe with the whole family angle.  Film takes the assassin business very seriously in a non serious way with the presence of an exclusive Continental hotel where they can stay and there is a code to keep things civilized. The action is similar to the Bourne ones where it is more about grit and shooting accuracy than rope tricks. There are nods to Melville's 'Le Cercle Rouge' (Come to the Red Circle, dude) and even Taken (You stole my car and killed my dog). Thumping music and neon lit action set-pieces are always cool but what makes the film special is all the business that happens when the action set pieces are not going on. It is lots of fun and body count is a whopping 119 and it is none of the PG-13 shiite variety. Lack of any back story to the characters gives it a very Western feel despite the urban New York setting.

It is always good to see some of 'The Wire' alumnus popping up in films and in this one two of them do. Lance Reddick (Daniels from Wire) got quite a good role and Clarke Peters (Lester from Wire) got a minor role in it. The director Chad Stahelski makes his directorial debut with this one and he is know for working in stunts department for films like Matrix, V for vendetta and 300. Surprisingly enough it is not the stunts that makes this one great. The screenplay was in the 2012 Black List. It is inevitably gonna get franchised but whatever shit they are gonna churn out in future, this one was a great watch.

Rating: 4/5