Dr. Donna Copeland’s
KEANU REEVES MICHAEL NYQVIST WILLEM DAFOE ALFIE ALLEN
JOHN LEGUIZAMO ADRIANNE PALICKI
I’ve seen stunt directors turned filmmakers before, and the result is never altogether different. I heard a guy say once that he wanted to be an actor, and when asked his experience in acting, he replied “I’ve watched a lot of movies”. The same can almost be applied here; Chad Stahelski and David Leitch have stunted for films like The Wolverine, Iron Man 2, and Tron. John Wick is an action movie through and through, and there is little to no acting involved here because Reeves's fists, legs, and body remain in constant motion as he lays down hundreds of bodies in less than two hours. Think Collateral, Road to Perdition, and Kill Bill but with everything that made those films great removed and all their action elements combined and you have an idea of what John Wick feels like.
Following the passing of his wife, John Wick receives a delivery from her: a little dog to help him grieve and move on. Before he even gets to know the dog, Wick wakes up to intruders. They steal his car and take the one symbol of hope and catharsis away from him. One of the intruders is crime boss Viggo Tarasov's (Nyqvist) son Iosef (Allen), and when he learns of the what his son did to John Wick, he instantly understands this will be the end of everything. Four years ago John Wick retired from the assassin business, as there was no task too difficult for him; when asked if he was “back” Wick only replies, “just visiting”.
The stunts in the film are great, the high energy is sustained throughout the film mostly because of the creative ways Wick destroys everyone in his path. Reeves never really gets the chance to chew the scenery or provide his character with any depth (he wouldn’t have been cast here if that had been the role, I presume). What character development we get is background from supporting characters talking about how Wick is a machine that won’t stop until everyone is dead and he feels avenged. Yet, for movie purposes they still try to stop him to increase the body count (which is somewhere over 85).
The twinkle in Reeves's eyes is the notion that very soon Liam Neeson will be out of a career in action film and Reeves might just swoop in and make this a franchise. To be clear, it’s the most crowd pleasing film Reeves has been a part of in years. Of course American audiences love the type of characters that have nothing to live for, so there are no limits to their madness and destruction. To be fair, the style and the look and feel of John Wick is sleek and stylized to perfection, but everything is on the back burner to the killing and violence. John Wick really does follow the structure of Road to Perdition, which was a graphic novel adapted into a film, but I would take that film and less bodies over this higher energy blood fest any day.
Final Thought – Crown pleasing, action packed, but about as deep as a peanut butter jar.
By: Dustin Chase
If you like thriller films with lots of action, John Wick will appeal to you. The two first-time directors (David Leitch and Chad Stahelski) have been stuntmen as well as actors, which lets you know there will be plenty of amazing mixed martial arts, lots of gunfire, explosions, and speeding tire-screaming cars. The plot, written by Derek Kolstad, maintains a sense of intrigue and mystery as to how many, and who, will fall at Wick’s hands and the outcome of the struggle between the crime boss Viggo (Michael Nyquist) and Wick (Keanu Reeves).
Early on, we learn that Wick has been “retired” from his job as a hit man, but is grieving over the loss of his wife, the reason for his retirement. By chance, Viggo’s son and three of his henchmen cross paths with Wick and have an encounter about Wick’s vintage Mustang. The son, Iosef (Alfie Allen), has none of the gravitas of his father and is a rather Weak Willie. He’s a spoiled, angry runt, and expects to have anything that catches his fancy.
Soon after, Wick and his special dog are attacked in his home shortly after the encounter. When Viggo hears about the attack, he is terrified, because Wick has a God-like reputation, and Viggo realizes what his punk son is in for, and sends a large crew to Wick’s house; but when they return this second time, he is ready for them, and after he is done, has to call “Waste Removal” to get rid of the bodies. Now, he is even more enraged and makes careful plans to recover the damage. His retirement has been brief enough so that he still has informants and friends in the crime scene who will be of assistance to him, and he heads to a luxury hotel where he is known, and a place where whatever he asks for will be accommodated. In the meantime, unbeknownst to him, a price has been put on his head, and we meet Marcus (Willem Davoe), who spoke to him briefly at his wife’s funeral but received a cool response.
Reeves, Nyquist, and Dafoe can all play the quintessential hero-criminal role effortlessly, and Reeves is a standout here. He maintains a mystique, and just the right balance between polite, gentlemanly compassion and cold, steely retribution. He can be patient and cool or size up a situation and act decisively in a flash seamlessly.
The directors keep a good pace throughout the film with enough mystery surrounding Wick and how the plot will end up, the viewer is sure to be engaged.
“Don’t set him off.”
By: Donna Copeland