Re-Watch: John Wick (2014)

John Wick
Director: Chad Stahelski, David Leitch
Writer: Derek Kolstad
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Willem Dafoe, Dean Winters, Adrianne Palicki, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane, Lance Reddick, Bridget Moynahan
Seen on: 21.2.2017
[Here’s my first review.]

John Wick (Keanu Reeves) used to be a hitman. The best hitman. But he gave it all up for is wife (Bridget Moynahan) and went straight. But now he lost her after a long illness and he’s lost without her. When a little puppy arrives on his doorstep, courtesy of his wife who didn’t want him to lose his ability to love, he is immediately taken by it. But then he is robbed by Iosef Tasarov (Alfie Allen), a young thug who happens to be the son of mafia boss Viggo Tasarov (Michael Nyqvist). Iosef wants to steal John’s car, but can’t leave it at that: he kills John’s dog. That is the last straw for John who decides to get back into business and take his revenge on Iosef and anybody who stands in his way.

Before seeing the sequel, I knew I had to re-watch John Wick. And also on re-watching it’s a beautiful, amazing, wonderful action movie that I simply adore.

There is very little that can be criticized about John Wick, simply because it’s a film that knows exactly what it is all about. That means we get a film that knows not only its genre perfectly, with the tropes that come along with it, but also knows its strengths and limitations down to the tiniest crumb.

The result is a film that gives us Keanu Reeves in probably the best role of his career as it caters exactly to his strengths and compensates for his weaknesses. It’s a film that has the most perfectly choreographed and shot action scenes that you could possibly ask for. And it’s a film that deals perfectly with genre tropes and stereotypes: using the strengths that made them narrative conventions in the first place, but also subverting them, at least slightly, when things threaten to be played too straight.

That alone would have made for a really good film, but they weren’t satisfied with that. And so John Wick comes with some of the most elaborate world-building I’ve ever seen inside or outside of an action film. Plus some of the greatest lighting I’ve ever seen in film, period. And a great soundtrack.

Re-watching also gave me a small new insight into the story: at the end of the film, when John picks up his new dog, I always wondered about him just stealing a dog from somebody. But it turns out that there is a sign on the cage that the dog was scheduled to be put down and that, of course, explains everything. And makes everything even more awesome.

Summarizing: Already one of my favorite films ever.


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