John Wick (2014) - Switch your brains off and jump on this roller coaster ride - 7/10 (31/10/14)
"John Wick" is another fast-paced and graphic revenge movie with some entertaining action and black humour, a fitting soundtrack and the usual stereotypical characters from the Russian mafia. When it comes to gripping revenge flicks, you should rather watch South Korean movies like the intense "The Man from Nowhere" which is twice as good as this film, "I Saw the Devil" which is probably one of the most brutal movies ever made, the emotionally heart-breaking "Blood Island", as well as the philosophical trilogy around "Sympathy for Mister Vengeance", "Oldboy" and "Lady Vengeance" if you are looking for some originality, depth and character development. "John Wick" is only a hollow entertainment for genre fans. If I wasn't a fan of this kind of movies, my rating would be much lower than it is.
The story is simple. John Wick was a hit-man working for the organized crime in New York City. He retired from his job and started a new life when he met the love of his life. Roughly four years later, John Wick loses his wife to cancer. He receives a posthumous gift from her in form of a puppy with a letter from his wife saying that she is gone and that John Wick should cope with her demise by loving the dog. Coincidentally, he encounters the son of his old boss who doesn't know him. The young Russian mafioso wants to purchase John Wick's vintage '69 Mustang but the grieving man refuses. A few hours later, the Russian mafioso breaks into John Wick's house without any problems as there seems to be no alarm system at all. With a few friends, the young criminal kills John Wick's beloved puppy, steals his car and is bright enough to take off his hood to show his face so John Wick surely knows who he is. The victim survives and goes on to kill around eighty criminals in the next ninety minutes of the movie. Of course, killing the naive culprit is not enough, he also kills his partners, colleagues, bodyguards, his old boss and a few guys in a church. In the end, everybody but John Wick is dead and he goes to the next veterinary hospital, walks off with a new dog and goes home as if nothing ever happened.
This story is so bad that it could have been written by a twelve-year old. First of all, there are too many coincidences concerning the encounter with the Russian criminals who want to steel John Wick's car. In the entire movie, everybody is talking about John Wick's incredible reputation and everybody knows him wherever he goes but the son of the most influent criminal is the only one who has never heard of him. It's not credible that a smart hit-man doesn't have any alarm system to protect his home. One can understand that the killing of the puppy his wife gave to him really hurts John Wick but taking this event to justify eighty or more murders is not credible at all. In the entire movie, there is no police or anything despite all the shootings in downtown New York City. All of John Wick's enemies are extremely stupid, unexperienced and wooden. Even thirty men in one building can't manage to fight him. I could go on for hours as this movie is filled with so many coincidences, plot holes and unrealistic scenes that it's amusing. If you tell me know that the story doesn't matter in a revenge action movie, just watch any of the movies mentioned in the introduction that prove that even the grisliest revenge thriller can have some depth. Even "The Raid" franchise is more realistic and has better plots. "John Wick" rather feels like a simplistic ego-shooter for video game consoles than an actual movie. I must though admit that the last Splinter Cell games had better story lines than this film.
Another thing that feels out of place is the fact that fifty-year old Keanu Reeves is playing the unbeatable hit-man. The fighting scenes are somewhat wooden but he still manages to fight off his enemies because their acting is even slower. On the other side, Keanu Reeves also has a certain charisma to fit this role. Fifty-nine year old Willem Dafoe as veteran hit-man who has to kill John Wick is also a questionable choice in my opinion. Still, he is a respectable actor and has charisma. The most annoying thing is the fact that the evil guys are Russians again but that they are portrayed by actors from all around the world like England, Sweden and even Switzerland - except Russia. One can feel that these are wannabe Hollywood Russians and not real Russians.
You may now ask yourself why I still gave a favourable rating to this flick. It's actually simple. This movie never gets boring. The action scenes are sometimes wooden but most of them are just shootings so it doesn't really matter. These scenes are well directed and include no annoying shaky cameras or overloaded special effects. The settings of the movie are well chosen and vary from dirty chop shops over elegant bath houses to Orthodox churches. There are a few memorable lines in this film as in many other action movies. Some graphic content is related to some dark and dry humour which made the whole thing easier to digest. I actually liked this combination of contradictory extremes and had to laugh quite a few times during the movie. The soundtrack of the movie is also enjoyable and fitting. For genre fans, there are enough entertaining and well-executed elements to enjoy this movie despite its obvious flaws.
If you are looking for some fast-paced and superficial entertainment to switch your brains off, you will like "John Wick". If you are actually looking for a good movie that has more to offer than stylish violence, go for the movies mentioned in the introduction.« Power of Mirantic reviewsYong-eui-ja / The Suspect (2013) - Well-executed and twisted spy movie with a little lack of originality - 8/10 (02/11/14) »