By Preman Koshar || Arts & Entertainment Editor
This week I’ll be reviewing a movie that is only about a year old, but has already become a cult classic: John Wick. John Wick, directed by Chad Stahelski, tells the tale of— surprise, surprise— John Wick (Keanu Reeves), a legendary retired assassin who is pulled out of retirement when the son of an old associate of his, being a grade-A idiot, kills the dog his wife left him before she died. John Wick is/was so feared that people referred to him as the “Baba Yaga,” or the “Bogeyman” in Russian. So begins a 101-minute, thoroughly enjoyable slaughter-fest. You just don’t kill a man’s dog, especially if that man has been known to kill three people with a single pencil. I mean, what do you expect to happen?
The cinematography in John Wick is very well done. The shots fully capture the mood of the scenes, both in terms of color and style. The fight scenes are excellently choreographed and the camera follows the actors’ actions fluidly and gracefully, while keeping the momentum and energy high. As a side note— I don’t think I’ve seen fight scenes this realistic and well choreographed in a long while— this is Matrix-level stuff here, except it feels completely plausible. John Wick uses a combination of differing hand-held weapons combined with several different styles of martial arts, all of which are used realistically and powerfully, to great effect.
The fight scenes really are a sight to behold. Unfortunately, the acting does not live up to fights. Keanu Reeves is not interesting in any kind of emotional way, even though the film takes great pains to make him sympathetic. And almost all the supporting actors are mostly there to shoot or be shot— they don’t seem to have very well-developed personalities. The plot also doesn’t make complete perfect sense. The main villain acknowledges right off the bat that he has an amicable work relationship with John Wick, and that he is one of the deadliest assassins in the world, and then proceeds to send squads of men after him (spoiler—they all die). Then another assassin proceeds to go after John while he’s staying in some kind of assassin-only hotel, where it’s prohibited to kill anyone. Guess what the punishment for violating this rule is? (Hint: It involves multiple bullets and your skull).
I cannot fathom why an assassin, who knows this rule, would violate this rule and go after John (And for only $4 million? Please, he’s worth more), unless he or she were suicidal. I don’t care what they’re offering them to kill him, it makes no logical sense for them to risk having a whole league of assassins come after them for a single, albeit large, payday. The dialogue, meanwhile, is nothing special, but not particularly bad, either. The score is another bright spot of the film— it maintains the anxiety and the energy throughout, without getting obnoxious. The music always fit well with whatever action was happening.
All in all, John Wick is a great action movie that should only be remembered for its action— nothing else. It has a fair number of shortcomings, but its memorable fight scenes will keep this nouveau cult classic from being completely forgotten.
Preman Koshar is the Arts & Entertainment Editor. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.