93 / 100
Watchable Minutes : 101 / 101. While John Wick doesn’t have the most compelling of stories, every minute is a quality minute of pure action and worldbuilding.
Trailer Comparison : The opening few minutes almost give off a sort of parody / comedy vibe that completely switches gears to the true nature of the movie. The later half of the trailer is WAY more accurate.
Move or Film : The only message here is to not harm animals named Daisy. Bad things happen, especially when their owners are either John Wick or Doom Slayer.
- Run time : 1 hr 41 minutes
- Studio : Lionsgate
- Director : Chad Stahleski
- Where to Watch : Prime Video ($)
John Wick receives a puppy in the mail, a parting gift from his recently deceased wife who had hoped that the dog would ease John’s pain at her passing. Not long after her death, John is approached by a bold young man who wants to buy John’s ’69 Mustang Boss 429. After John refuses and insults the man in his native Russian tongue, the young man decides to take what he wants. Later that night, John’s home is broken into and his dog Daisy is murdered. Unbeknownst to the assailant, John Wick is far from a simple grieving widow. He is the most feared assassin in the crime world, the man they send to kill the boogeyman, and he is not to be trifled with.
The story of John Wick is still being explored as we are currently three movies deep and still don’t know all there is to know about the guy you send to kill the boogeyman. The first installment into this assassin for hire world is a stylized and brutal in both aesthetic and tone. There is a ton of lore just below the surface that the audience is clued in on after each new interaction. The world that is established in this first chapter is deep and diverse and doesn’t feel cliché or thrown together at the last minute to round out the plot. The people in the background seem to be vaguely aware that there is a seedy underworld, lurking just out of the corner of their eyes, but that they are best suited to just go about their day as if there wasn’t. This is particularly noticeable as we learn more about John Wick by having the other characters speak in fearful reverence about his exploits to build the legend around him. His interaction with Jimmy, the officer who stops by about a noise complaint speaks volumes to this. Jimmy asks if John is “working again” and when John says he’s just working some stuff out, Jimmy decides it’s better to not ask questions and close this issue. After a few of these expositional segments are delivered to the audience, we get to see exactly how John Wick came to be the man who is sent to kill the boogeyman through brutal and precise action that serves as a narrative device of its own.
Bringing the story of John Wick to life are the internet favorites in Keanu Reeves and Willem Dafoe, both of meme fame as of late. Keanu does Keanu things and puts everything he had into this role. Willem Dafoe was an excellent choice for the part of Marcus, the former mentor of Wick. Marcus never stood a chance against Wick, the monster that he helped create and rightfully decided to aid him instead (smart move). Additionally there is Alfie Allen, prominently known for his portrayal of Theon Greyjoy (and Reek), playing a rather annoying and stupid young Russian mob heir apparent. The objective of his character was just to be a person who would be killed for his arrogance, which Allen was able to deliver in spades. Introduced as part of the Continental’s management was Lance Reddick and Ian McShane, who were both very polished and mysterious. They both felt like the top tier, first class, 5 star hotel type people that only the highest of high class socialites would interact with. Their roles added layers of legitimacy to the Continental scenes, which left me wanting to learn more about what goes on at this hiding in plain sight secret assassin base.
The action genre has long since stagnated, with sequels and cuts galore (looking at you, Taken trilogy). The fight choreography and gunplay is astoundingly beautiful, especially for a dingus like me who knows nothing about either of them. Everything felt so intentional and direct, with a skill level that can only come from somebody who is the best of the best, which is exactly who John Wick is. Behind the camera is Chad Stahelski, the man who stunt doubled for Keanu Reeves on the Matrix movies, among others. The close working relationship the two have together is where the seeds for success was planted for John Wick. Stahelski is a stunt man turned director with John Wick being his debut, followed up by two sequels and an upcoming fourth installment. While the story and fights are fresh and exciting, the look and feel of John Wick is also worth noting. The movie wasn’t afraid to play with shadows and take the story to familiar locations. Shootouts and fights in clubs aren’t anything new to moviegoers, but the precision and grit that John Wick presented to the audience made for some incredibly satisfying movie moments. Pairing with the impressive visuals and choreography is an awesome scoring and soundtrack. I love a good and heavy, bass thumping electronic soundtrack as much as the next guy. But not often does an entire movie soundtrack make it into my workout playlist. The themes for The Red Circle (the club scene) and LED Spirals are especially top notch in my opinion. 10/10 for Le Castle Vania. The rest of his catalogue is pretty awesome, so check it out.
John Wick is one of the most promising action franchises of the past 15 years and I cannot wait to see where the story goes next. As I write this post, John Wick 4 is in preproduction and HBO Max has announced a spin off mini series about the Continental. I’m ready for more John Wick content for years to come if they can keep the same level of quality for each project. I’m also very interested in where Chad Stahelski’s directing career goes. I think that his eye for action and story telling makes him a valuable asset to the movie industry.
If you like this, check out :
- The Matrix
- The Raid
- Mortal Kombat (2021, definitely not 95)