REVIEW: John Wick (2014) – ManlyMovie

REVIEW: John Wick (2014)


Runtime: 101 Mins
Rated: R
What To Expect: The return of Keanu Reeves in a movie with balls of absolute steel

I must admit that when this movie was announced last year, with Keanu Reeves attached to lead, it didn’t really register as anything special.  It wasn’t until the synopsis was revealed this summer, man bent on revenge with automatic weapons, that it did ping on my radar. I’ve always been a fan of Keanu Reeves ever since seeing him in Point Break, late on TV over 20 years ago.  He’s a good action man, so he’s a great fit here in this complete sleeper.  Sit down, Denzel Washington, this is the movie The Equalizer should’ve been and the manliest movie of 2014.

The plot is tried and tested manly movie subject matter.  A man sets out to seek revenge against gangsters who slayed his dog and stole his wheels.  That’s just two things you don’t do, man.  You don’t touch a man’s dog and you don’t touch a man’s wheels.  Anyone who does deserves all they get.  Reeves then digs a set of guns out of his basement and goes on the most satisfying shooting rampage I’ve seen in a long time.  Pissants get struck down upon with great vengeance and furious anger, simply because they refuse to give up the scumbag who beat Reeves’ pup to death with a baseball bat.  I’m not talking about violent beatings either, rather, wanton executions.  The body count probably actually exceeds that of the invasion of Grenada (no, really, that was about 40-50).

Of course, all of this would be near pointless if the action was captured using shaking cameras and completely unintuitive editing.  Well rejoice, because John Wick is a devastating kidney shot to the scourge of shaking-cam hyper-edit syndrome.  This movie has become highly popular because of its action, which is brilliantly filmed.  The camera and cut will remain on Reeves until he has completed whichever move, kill or act of violence it is.  Utterly satisfying yet natural choreography can be savored in the moment, instead of figuring it out in seconds later in your bewildered head, like some Bourne movie.  The gunfights and executions are some of the best I’ve ever seen.  And I just wouldn’t say that willy nilly – I hate poorly choreographed and edited gunfights.

It’s the little things that makes this movie great as well, such as the gun sounds themselves.  Very realistic, like they were in Heat, only with even better contrasting for indoor and outdoor shots.  Guns don’t sound the same in all environments.  Or for example John Wick being a man who keeps gold coins instead of cash – who the hell is stupid enough to keep paper currency in this economic climate?  The dollar could collapse at any minute, or they might simply refuse withdrawals above a certain amount, like in certain Euro countries recently.  The value of gold however is eternal.  One other thing, I mentioned The Equalizer above.  Reeves is not a stone-faced superman invulnerable to anything and everything like Washington in the Equalizer, because like that masterpiece, Die Hard, you gotta let him get fucked up here and there to keep the momentum organic.  And you know something else?  The film is smart enough to know its limitations, it ends around 97 minutes or so.  Trying to squeeze in another 10+ minutes of fat/filler would’ve been a bad move.

“I’ll say this, John, you sure as fuck broke the mould, didn’t you?” Good line, kinda sums up how I feel about this movie – I love it.