Thursday, November 13, 2014

Movie Review: John Wick

John Wick is as close to a perfect action film as we’re gonna get in 21st Hollywood. Embrace it. As the fine folks at Ruthless Reviews have already illustrated in their official Guide to 80’s Action, the glory days of the mindless action romp peaked during the Reagan years. When story arcs and even special effects took a backseat to the glory of mindless [borderline homoerotic] carnage; when buff dudes named Arnold, Sly and Jean-Claude could frolic shirtless onscreen and punch/mud wrestle/murder tons of random faceless enemies. The Soviets, the drug cartels, even ninjas, whoever messed with our grizzled protagonists where going to get their asses handed to them for the next ninety minutes of brainless, but oh so awesome, super violent fun.

John Wick is an unabashed genre flick that harkens back to the glory days of 80’s style overindulgence. Keanu Reeves stars in the film’s titular role, playing a retired hitman who is thrust back into the murder scene, after some random thugs with mafia connections steal his car and worse, kill his dog. That’s it. That’s the whole plot right there. In typical 80’s action form, John Wick is a widow morning the loss of his dead wife. Like the Reagan administration itself, the women of 80’s action movies didn’t really do much, other than get in the way of Hulkamania inspired alpha male mayhem. The ladies are either dead, kidnapped or somewhere just off camera screaming for rescue [or pleasure], and only serve as a catalyst for unadulterated vengeance. Reeves [aka Neo, aka Johnny Utah, aka Johnny Mnemonic and whatever his name was in Speed] is no stranger to the action genre and he plays his character to perfection. Arnold said “I’ll be back” in 1984 and changed the world forever. Keanu says “Yeah, I’m thinking I’m back!” thirty years later and 80's action fiends piss themselves with joy.

Stuntmen turned directors David Leitch and Chad Stahelski are the true heroes of John Wick. Their years as stunt doubles to the stars [Stahelski was Reeve’s double on The Matrix] and master fight choreographers made them beyond qualified to handle directing duties this time around. The fight scenes and gun battles are fluid and mesmerizing. No shaky cam or ADD editing to mask what’s going on, we see Keanu kick ass and sprout one-liners like the gods of 80’s action films before him. If you like popcorn, headshots, and listening to Keanu Reeve’s world weary voice in THX surround, go see John Wick ASAP.

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