So John Wick 2 comes out next week and having watched Keanu Reeves talk about it on Graham Norton and my dad nattering on to me several times about how good it is, I decided to bite the bullet, buy the first one and see what the hell the fuss is about. Gotta say, not disappointed. Some movies are Oscar bait, pure and simple. You go to those for high drama and probably to have a cry. Especially recently. You can’t win an Oscar if you don’t make people feel something… or you’re a Pixar movie. I mean, come on. Titanic, Slumdog, 12 Years a Slave. Sure, they’re good movies, but you can’t have that all the time can you? Hell no. It’s boring. They’re boring (Except you, Gladiator. Don’t come after me, Mr. Crowe).
This is not an Oscar-worthy movie. And that makes me happy. This is guilty pleasure goodness put into overdrive. The plot is as simple and and subtle as a brick, there’s no message and nothing to make you think. But fuck me, is it badass, watchable and insanely fun. John Wick was a deadly assassin, retired from the trade having found a permanent way out and is living it up in a swanky house with his loving wife. Too bad she’s dead now though, otherwise we wouldn’t have our movie, would we? I won’t spoil it for you, but let’s say shit hits the fan and our dear Mr. Wick is forced to go back into business and commit bloody murder many MANY times over in search of revenge against the heinous Russian mob.
Now this is where it gets decent. In my opinion, you can’t have a good revenge movie if you don’t give a shit about the guy taking revenge. Sure, John Wick isn’t much of a character. He’s a gruff, no nonsense sort with little to say and a whole lot of guns and knives and rage. You throw in some bastard villains for him to fight though and suddenly you ACTUALLY have a reason to care. Now, these guys right here are scum, plain and simple. They are horrible people and you want them to die. You want Wick to win. They deserve it for sure. Michael Nyqvist (Millenium series) does a great job with his portrayal of the asshole mob boss, while Alfie Allen (Game of Thrones) as his son NEEDS to die. In the best way. His performance is well and truly suitably dickish.
The action in this movie is pretty damned superb. I’d heard it described as something akin to a ‘stuntman’s wet dream’ and it is pretty much that. The gunfire has a satisfying punch to it, the body blows look and sound like they hurt and what’s best is that it’s mostly practical effects and real stunt-work, as opposed to CG. The hand-to-hand stuff in particular is great and actually looks real. None of this overly choreographed shit. It looks like two (or more) real people just throwing down and getting right into it, fighting to survive. It’s not pretty, but it’s gritty and suitably intense. Lovely stuff.
I was also surprised to find Willem Dafoe and Ian McShane in the cast. These guys are seasoned actors and genuinely work as members of the ensemble. Neither plays a huge role, but… I dunno.. I just liked the fact they’re in there! I don’t need to be totally analytical about everything all the time so fuck yourself. I was half execting Dafoe to go Green Goblin at some points, but he doesn’t… dunno if that’s a good or bad thing tbh. There’s also a good amount of world-building going on here that I didn’t expect. It’s a sort
of hyper-real take on the underworld, where all the assassins know each other and seem to get on until the price is right… There’s several scenes revolving around a hotel in particular that I found interesting. Not gonna ruin it or ramble on any more about it, but just watch the thing ok.
Summing up, this is a GOOD movie. It’s not going to change your life, pose any serious questions or deliver any meaningful message except that Keanu Reeves can still kick a whole bunch of ass. It’s a highly entertaining, gritty rollercoatser with solid acting, nice visuals and ACTION and EXPLOSIONS and GUNS and BLOOD and YEEEEEESSSSSSSSS. Probably what Taken should have been (by no means a bad movie). And what the hell more can you ask of a guilty pleasure movie, am I right?
I WILL be checking out John Wick 2. Will you?…