John Wick Exemplifies the Core Values of Contemporary Action Movies
John Wick is an action thriller that doesn't deliver a narrative of huge imagination, or any real depth. However, it does deliver a stylish, all-out highlight reel of non-stop action that's a shot of adrenaline.
John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is a hit-man for the mob who quits upon falling in love. Then, five years later, his wife dies and so he's not alone, she has arranged for a dog to be given to him after her death. As his relationship grows with his new canine friend, Wick's car is broken into, and his dog killed after Wick has taken a beating. Upon recovering from the attack, Wick sets out to gain vengeance on the men who killed his dog, and when he digs deeper, he finds that the person responsible is the son of his former employer. The man who wants to protect his son takes matters into his own hands but finds to his detriment that Wick is just as sharp as he ever was.
Full throttled action thriller
John Wick is a full throttled, all out action thriller that has a brutal aesthetic as its centrepiece. It's harsh, bloodied and not for the faint hearted. If you like your action movies with hard boiled, blood splattered, no holds barred heroes — like Taken or, The Equalizer — John Wick will appeal. It can be guilty of drawing too heavily on its crazed shoot 'em up ideologies, but it works within its context as it never tries to be anything it's not. Its narrative is as basic as basic gets: a man is out for revenge on the men who killed his dog who represents the memory of his late wife. But where John Wick doesn't flourish narrtively, it triumphs in physicality.
Keanu Reeves is on top action hero form, the sort of form we saw him in Speed — and he's just as equally impressive in the fight sequences that remind us of how good Reeves can be in roles such as this. John Wick reunites Reeves with Daniel Bernhardt, Randall Duk Kim, and directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, all of whom were involved in The Matrix Trilogy. And, it's The Matrix Trilogy that John Wick draws its physicality from. It can be said that John Wick is just as honed and well rehearsed as The Matrix in terms of its set-pieces, and its visceral cinematography, but, debutant directors Stahelski and Leitch embody the calm before the storm and subsequent ruin that follows with great maturity and understanding of such filmmaking.
John Wick features a set-piece that will be dissected by film enthusiasts for years to come. Its theme is similar to that of the restaurant fight scene in Prachya Pinkaew's The Protector. Bullets fly as Reeves takes on a posse of baddies wearing red shirts and black jackets in a bar. Like The Protector, this scene lasts for around six minutes and is a continuous rampage of killings — some excruciating in their graphic nature. It's within this scene that Stahelski and Leitch's expertise as previous stunt co-ordinators is put to work with grand results.
John Wick hasn't redefined the action genre, rather, taken its core values and delivered them in a contemporary manner. Audiences are more saturated to on-screen violence than what they were in the eighties or nineties, so the shock value that this movie no doubt intends to have, may not have the implied impact. But, that doesn't mean John Wick doesn't work. Much the contrary. It's exemplifies exactly what today's moviegoers want from an action movie: an uncensored bloodbath of expertly crafted fight scenes that are relentlessly given to us, and never claiming to be more than what it intends to be, a revenge movie.