Out in cinemas is the fantastic relentless revenge film John Wick starring Keanu Reeves and Alfie Allen.
The film is one of those older-gentlemen hitmen movies such as Run All Night or The Gunman that we’ve had recently, the major difference apart from Keanu Reeves being slightly younger, is that this film is incredibly enjoyable. There has been a slew of these and it’s fair to say it hasn’t been a good slew, apart from Taken that started the slew everything else in the slew has been boring. Keanu Reeves has taken the slew in a different direction and it’s awesome.
John Wick is a quiet man with a quiet life, though we are initially introduced to him bleeding half to death outside a temporarily anonymous building watching a video of him and his wife enjoying themselves on a beach on his oddly dated iPhone 4s. A few quick cuts imply that she went into a coma and was eventually euthanised. A few days later he is given a lovely little puppy full of personality from his wife’s ghost, that he grows very fond of. This is the only thing he has left of hers as they seemed to live in Ikea and hadn’t acquired any personal possessions. Alfie Allen has been blessed with a face that draws on all the power of his father’s personality in that punching him directly in it would be such a sweet experience that it would lull a baby to sleep. Alfie Allen’s character decides to steal John Wick’s car and from this a lot of bad things, and a lot of black humour, arise. The word John doesn’t have a lot of power by itself, the world Wick doesn’t necessarily except maybe in a candlemakers shop. Put these two words together in the world of this film and it inspires a respect and a powerful fear depending on what side of assassinated you are. If you have always been there for him when he wanted to go to the cinema or bowling, he’ll give you a chocolate coin, if you kill his dog and steal his car you will be shot in the face.
Now I’m not someone who is easily impressed by action films, I am quite tired of the tropes of bullets missing people, long bits of dialogue with no meaning other than to put space between bullets and people you don’t care about getting punched, shot or jumped over. John Wick is very light on dialogue, yet relatively speaking what there is of it is very well crafted this really helps with building tension, and it means a lot of the character building in the film comes from the reactions of the supporting cast as Wick never explicitly walks into a room and says ‘I am a bad man and I am famous for doing bad things and now I will do those bad things to you.’
The action scenes are shot like a video game, where there’s a certain amount of patience to be had on the part of the enemies. One part in particular comes to mind where a recently shot man seems to wait to be shot in the head while Wick reloads his gun, but in a lightly funny, intentionally silly way.
On the downside the plot isn’t particularly original and it really is just a man shooting, jumping and punching things, but it is done so well that you must argue that it is one of the best we have seen recently.
For me Keanu Reeves hasn’t done much worth talking about since Bill and Ted or The Matrix, but recently along with the Man of Tai Chi he has been investing a good amount of effort into beautiful, fluid fight scenes and crafting a new language of action which I am enjoying and will continue to watch. Also did you see how nice he was to that lady on the bus in real life? Exactly. You have to like him even if you don’t like his acting.