Friday, October 24, 2014

John Wick - Review

John Wick – Review

“BOOM…………..BOOM – BOOM”. You hear a lot of that sound in the new action thriller genre starring Keanu Reeves entitled “John Wick” which is also the name of  its lead character as well. And with way too many “booms” to ever begin to keep any reasonable count, former stunt man turned Director Chad Stahelski uses his previous experiences of making the impossible look possible by providing us a movie that is dark but is also sly and fresh with just the right comic touch in this reimagining of the assassin hit man type. And while John Wick does not measure up to any of the Bourne films or Natalie Portman’s “The Professional”, Reeves and the Director together  create a singular new character who is exhilarating to watch in that metamorphic Bruce Lee, Sonny Crockett wearing thousand dollar Georgio Armani suits kind of way.

Early on with, we see John alone in a state of deep mourning, as the love of his young life has just died from a terminal illness. He spends his days being filled with nothing but emptiness and while he seemly has a very luxurious life in a very fashionable modern home, he’s still a man steep in raw grief.

One day a package arrives at his home where we discover inside is a Beagle puppy; a final gift from his wife who knew he would quote “need somebody to love”. It’s from this gift we see some measure of light and life return to Johns eyes. He is starting to move on with his life as he and his new friend begin to bond, especially with their daily morning excursion day trips in John’s prized classic Ford Boss Mustang 302.

While heading home one day he pulls into a gas station to refuel. Convenient to the story a car with some young men pull into the station as well that we soon discover are both the son and associates of a major Russian mobster in the local New Jersey area. They initially seem harmless, but we already know when one approaches John about him selling his car and John politely stating, “she’s not for sale”, we know from this point on things are going to get bad. And of course what ensues next you can see coming a mile away as out convenient Russian mobster did not to take John’s no for an answer. That same evening they break into his home steal his car and kill his dog.  What happens next is watching a man unleash a holy hell of pure unrelenting - uncompromising revenge violence to any and all those involved or who dares to get in his way.

“John Wick” the film show cases the lead character both as an assassin and a flamenco dancer whose physical moves in the numerous fight scenes are at times as equally lethal to his hyper flair usage of guns. And when he is “dancing” with his trusted 9MM in hand, together they offer up a series of stylishly pirouette moves meant to titillate and mesmerize as he shoots at an endless array of nefarious human targets to dispatch. John just doesn’t want to kill, he wants to end life sexy, with charisma, grace, style, panache and a bit of cheeky humor.

Let’s be clear, the violence in John Wick is raw and at time as visually sick as anything you will ever see in a film. But while this is make believe fictional violence and if fictional violence doesn’t rub you the wrong way, John Wick delivers huge big ups thrilling action beyond the typical run of the mill bang-bang shoot them up. John Wick is more like an extravaganza in violence filled with an abundance of credibility and gorgeous detail.

Reeves, while playing once again to simply lure us in the angelic exterior quiet type with an eventual volcanic eruption to come later, is awesome here. And while similar plot wise to Denzel’s Washington “The Equalizer”, Wick may seem withdrawn and reluctant as well, but once his blood has been spilled he runs cold with a focused stern determination. Not so much with a simple rage of anger flowing in his blood stream, but more as a stoic man whose hematological substance is much closer to being pure radioactive fuel. And just like radioactive fuel in its natural managed state can be a peaceful benign source for good, once spilled and unleashed to maximize the death of its designated enemies, it can kill with stealthy deadliness with designs to wanting to destroy the entire environment around its target as well.

With the last 20 minutes seemingly to run out of steam a bit, John Wick is still pure kinetic giddy visceral entertainment who becomes our hero measured by how much death he creates to entertain us. And while everything about John Wick is totally preposterously absurd given the level of carnage, it’s a fabulous absurdity with a wink – wink slickness to it.

This film’s plot is basically an “I must get revenge” thriller at all costs effort. The difference from previous films of this type is JW is an epicurean assassin; one devoted to the pursuit of killing with a quiet sensual pleasure as would any expert food critic who pursues similarly his passions for the enjoyment of eating good food. They both do their jobs with a comfort and ease of effort.  But to relegate John Wick with a title of being merely an expert killer would be an insult to this very satisfying film. Instead, just like a violin or piano virtuoso within the known arts or a mathematical prodigy or science wizard, John Wick was naturally born to end life like a maestro with a baton

“Boom……………Boom – Boom”. Do I dare say it; in a purely oxymoronic kind of way, John Wick is real entertaining homicidal fun.

3 - 3/4 Stars     

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