Friday, March 15, 2024

John Wick (2014)

Streaming Service: Netflix 
Movie Name/Year: John Wick (2014) 
Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller 
Length:  1h 41min 
Rating: R
Director: Chad Stahelski, David Leitch 
Writer: Derek Kolstad 
Actors: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Willem Dafoe, Dean Winters, Adrianne Palicki, Omer Barnea, Toby Leonard Moore, Daniel Bernhardt, Bridget Moynahan, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane, Bridget Regan, Lance Reddick, Keith Jardine, Tait Fletcher, Kazy Tauginas, Alexander Frekey, Thomas Sadoski, Randall Duk Kim, David Patrick Kelly, Clarke Peters, Kevin Nash, Vladislav Koulikov 
IMDb Blurb: An ex-hitman comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters who killed his dog and stole his car. 
Selina’s Point of View: 
I think it’s finally time to talk about John Wick. 
I’m ashamed to say that when I put John Wick on my top 20 movies to look out for in October of 2014, I indicated that I thought it would be just another old guy in an action flick. I still put it in my #4 slot, but it was beat by some films that had no business beating it.
John Wick is anything but an ‘old guy in an action flick’ kind of film. It’s a masterpiece of world building, choreography, direction, and writing. It is one of the best action films, maybe even the best action series, of our generation. Every shot is filmed with intention. Every line carefully laid out for maximum effect. Every gunshot meaningful. Every nuance an opening to one more fact about a world that was built with care and intrigue. My love for John Wick knows no bounds. 
To keep this article from becoming a book, I’m going to stick to discussing my favorite aspect of John Wick: the writing. 
The most difficult aspect of writing is knowing what NOT to add. Whether it’s from editing things out, or just not writing them in to begin with, those unspoken lines need to be intentional. What not to say is almost more important than what the actors do say. Derek Kolstad (The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Death Battle, John Wick: Chapter 4) is a master of this. There’s a whole scene where John Wick answers the phone and says absolutely nothing. It is exponentially more intimidating than anything he could have said out loud. From the moment he picks up the phone, to the moment he hangs up, his silence amps up the tension of the scene. Most writers would have added something. At least an initial “hello” or a subtle threat at the end, giving in to the expectations of what happens in a phone call. Instead, Kolstad opts to add silence as his dialogue and it is a genius move. 
On top of that, the world-building is second to none. You only get the slightest taste of the John Wick world in the first movie, but you can tell it’s just the tip of the iceberg. The Continental, the coins, the rules… every subverted expectation. You get more of it in the sequels, but that’s why the series itself is so beloved. The writing expands the world and the characters expertly in each flick. No one out there is writing as well, or consistently, as Derek Kolstad. I will sing his praises every chance I get.
I want to be him when I grow up. 
Obviously, this was not my first time watching John Wick, it may not even be my tenth time watching. Never-the-less, I will never pass up a chance to see it, or its sequels. If you are an action fan and you haven’t given John Wick your attention, you need to re-evaluate your life. 
Cat’s Point of View:
I was a little shocked to realize that we hadn’t reviewed John Wick before. This is one of my favorite action franchises of all time.
Not only is the production star-studded, but everything is executed seemingly flawlessly. The story makes sense – even as crazy as it is. The stunt-work and fight choreography are out of this world. The cinematography is well done and captures some amazing visuals. The story is also very interesting – especially with all the lore regarding The High Table and The Continental, itself. Of course, you need to watch through all of the films in the franchise to see all of the layers that have been peeled back for each of those points of interest – but John Wick is an excellent start that gives just enough to whet your appetite for more. 
Forget The Matrix (1999) and its sequels - Keanu Reeves (Replicas, Toy Story 4, Bill & Ted Face the Music) was born to play this titular role. I think this character is just as iconic as Neo was. The films about technology run amok and simulations were just the early stages of Reeves dipping his feet into high quality action waters. The John Wick movies offer us a veteran in his prime executing 90% of his own stunts. Reeves is a badass, and also a phenomenal human being. 
Of course, there are other heavy hitters among this cast – and the list just grows with every subsequent installment of the story. For this first John Wick film, however, we have Ian McShane (Hellboy, American Gods, Kung Fu Panda 4) and the late Lance Reddick (Godzilla vs. Kong, Bosch, The Legend of Vox Machina) setting the tone for The Continental moving forward. Willem Dafoe’s (The Northman, Inside, Poor Things) character gives us a glimpse further into this world of contract killers and the fine line between adversary and ally. Alfie Allen (Game of Thrones, Jojo Rabbit, Nightwalkers) might be the source of John Wick’s ire in the film, but we can thank his character for making these stories possible through his bad decisions.  There are many more recognizable cast members, as well. I couldn’t’ fault any of the performances if I tried.
I loved every moment of this crazy roller-coaster ride…even when I was sad for the pain that Reeves’ character goes through on an emotional level. 
If you enjoy action movies and haven’t seen the John Wick movies yet, you’ll absolutely want to start with this first installment. I’m pretty sure you’ll want to keep going. I know I do. In the meantime, I’ll be over here crossing my fingers there will be a 5th installment.
Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 86% 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 81%
Metascore – 68% 
Metacritic User Score – 8.1/10 
IMDB Score – 7.4/10 
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating – 5/5 
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 5/5
Movie Trailer:

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