Have you ever asked yourself the question; is there such a thing as artful violence? John Wick answers this violently in the affirmative. Perhaps I am late to the party reviewing this film, but I was so astounded by John Wick that I could not but extol its virtues. Directed by Chad Stahelski and David Leitch (the former being Reeves’ stunt double in the Matrix), this film offers excitement, excellent acting and explosive beautifully co-ordinated fight scenes.
There are, broadly speaking, two ways to go when it comes to fight sequences. The first is to bust a few moves then use lively camerawork and quick edits to make an indifferent pugilist look like The Grandmaster. The more challenging route is to choreograph an extended sequence, sit back, frame a nice wide shot and let the actor carry the can. Given that first-time directors Stahelski and Leitch are both veteran stunt co-ordinators, that fact that they opt for door number two is not surprising. The assured proficiency with which they conduct John Wick’s symphony of gunplay, however, is. Empire
Interestingly, while both Stahelski and Leitch directed this film, the latter is credited as a producer due to MPA regulations only allowing one director. (It may well be another regulatory body but the point is the same).
In terms of plot, John Wick tells the story of an ex-assassin whose wife passed away and sent him a puppy in lieu of marriage. No, in seriousness, Iosef Tarasov (Alfie Allen), son of mobster Viggo Tarasov (Ian McShane), decides he likes the look of John Wick’s 1969 Mustang. He asks Wick his price “у каждой суки есть цена” to which Wick replies “не эта сука”. I’ll let you translate for yourselves. Iosef, not content to take не эта сука for an answer, decided to storm John Wick’s house, beat him up, murder his new puppy and steal the Mustang. Iosef did not bet on Mr Wick being an ex associate of his father’s and merciless killing machine.
From the use of colour and music to the scenery-chomping by supporting players Willem Dafoe and Ian McShane, these are guys bursting with a love for genre cinema but aren’t too enslaved by affection to let in a little air. There’s a wonderful free spirit with the use of New York City locations that ditches verisimilitude for storytelling. The Surrogates’ Courthouse downtown is actually a Bosch-ian dance club with an interior of Scarface-esque hot tubs? Who in their right mind would disagree! Guardian
Overall I liked this film because it was mindless violence, portrayed beautifully and with some heart. One could look at this film as a vengeance tale for a small puppy, but I see it as a well-crafted ode to the beauty of vengeful violence. Every move in every fight scene is beautifully choreographed and seamlessly executed by Reeves, a veteran of the action movie genre. The plot is hearty and there are some wonderful scenes, most notably in the Red Circle club. I do so hope you will enjoy John Wick, allow him to transport you to a world of wonderful violence, far removed from the current agony in which we find ourselves.