So once again we have survived.

John Wick

tn_johnwickI never figured Keanu Reeves would become an action hall-of-famer, but here we are. Of course he stars in the great POINT BREAK, but we can’t lie, we all kinda chuckle at his FBI surfer dude Johnny Utah in that. And then he was good in SPEED, but would that be enough? If that was enough Matt Damon would be an action legend. Of course, playing Neo in THE MATRIX trilogy sealed the deal, Reeves learned to do all that kung fu and that hadn’t really been done by a normal actor like that before and those movies and those fights hold up today. Still, it seemed like an anomaly in his career. He would always be Neo to the world but that would be it for Action Keanu, right?

Nope. Because he directed last year’s martial arts gem MAN OF TAI CHI and played the villain, creating and performing some more classic fight scenes. When I saw that I realized it was time to acknowledge his greatness. 47 RONIN put a little bit of a damper on that though because it was so boring I never even wrote a review. If I had it would’ve said “Some of the monsters are cool” and that’s about it.

But after JOHN WICK, Reeves’s strong connection to Badass Cinema cannot be denied. This is a fun, violent, straight-ahead revenge action movie. Reeves did not direct it, but his stunt double from the MATRIX movies, Chad Stahelski, did*. So it’s probly a style of directing too dangerous for Reeves to perform.

I’m always excited for movies from stuntmen-turned-directors, but they’re not always a sure thing. These guys keep the dream alive, not only utilizing their experience as 2nd unit action directors but also really knowing how to tell a story and design and shoot a stylish movie.

As we knew from watching the trailer over and over like a kid watching the Lego movie, Reeves plays John Wick, a retired hitman who was so elite the Russian mafia he worked for called him “Baba Yaga.” He started a new life when he got married to Bridget Moynihan, but she just died. Of a disease, though, nobody killed her, so it’s not like he can avenge anybody for that.

But let’s just say this would be a bad time to fuck with him.

mp_johnwickYou guys know I love a good movie like this that doesn’t feel the need to try to reinvent or comment on its genre, it’s perfectly comfortable just glorying in it, doing a good job of it. A movie can feel like it’s dusting off all the old cliches, but in this it feels like it’s honoring the old traditions. I think you will all notice that JOHN WICK proudly uses two of the absolute bedrock action tropes that I love: the “just how badass is he?” speech and the “let’s put down our guns and fight like men” climactic duel. Because guns are so… uncivilized. Inelegant imho. Just my 2 cents.

And of course there are plenty of other ones. The one where the hero is brooding in the shower and we see for the first time that he has a huge tattoo on his back. (It could’ve also been scars but in this case they go with tattoo.) And he’s got lots of the Old Friends who would be willing to die for him and/or are quick to betray him. It seems like everyone he runs into is someone from the old days and they’re on a first name basis. And they’re in awe of him. Everybody knows who John is and what he’s capable of.

Everybody, that is, except Iosef (Alfie Allen from Game of Thrones), son of Russian mob kingpin Viggo (Michael Nyqvist, leading man in the Swedish GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO trilogy, so now he plays various European villains in American movies). Iosef and a couple of his asshole friends think they’re cool driving around pumping the bass, doing jobs for daddy, drinking champagne in hot tubs with the ladies and feeling entitled. So when Wick won’t sell them his awesome ’69 Mustang they attack him at home, steal the car and – man, this is a mistake – kill Daisy, the puppy that Wick’s wife had sent to him after her death. They think he’s just some random dude they can get away with doing this to.

So basically this is about how the young generation doesn’t know shit, and now it’s time for them to learn.

The writer, Derek Kolstad, already did two pretty good DTV movies about colorful criminal underworlds, ONE IN THE CHAMBER and THE PACKAGE, both co-starring Dolph Lundgren. This one reminds me a little bit of a different DTV movie, THE TOURNAMENT, because it takes place in a cartoonish world where elite hit-people are so plentiful they have a fancy hotel they can all stay at where they’re not allowed to kill each other. But plot-wise it’s a little bit like OUT FOR JUSTICE because it’s so simple: he’s chasing this guy and everybody knows he’s gonna kill him but they still try to get in the way and they die. He doesn’t bully people quite as cruelly as Gino, but he wastes no time just walking into a room and killing somebody. Even if the room is a church and the somebody is a priest.

Viggo’s verbal response to finding out what his son did is a classic moment. He immediately believes that Iosef’s death is inevitable, and tells him as much. But he’s the dad so he knows he has to go through the motions of trying to protect him. He’s the rare villain who doesn’t necessarily believe he’s gonna win.

There’s a great cast of supporting players, lots of guys with good action backgrounds popping up for a bit. Daniel Bernhardt (BLOODSPORT 2-4) is one of the main henchmen. John Leguizamo (OUT FOR JUSTICE, EXECUTIVE DECISION) has an excellent scene as the guy running a major chop shop. When he sees the Mustang he’s so positive John Wick is gonna pay him a visit that he already has a glass set out to pour him a drink when he arrives. David Patrick Kelly (THE WARRIORS, COMMANDO) performs an important service for the assassination industry. Wrestler Kevin Nash (THE PUNISHER, DOA: DEAD OR ALIVE) has a really good little guest appearance. Mixed martial artist Keith Jardine (RECOIL, TACTICAL FORCE) is another henchman, although admittedly I didn’t recognize him now that his facial hair is more tasteful. And Ian McShane (DEATH RACE) and Willem Dafoe (TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A.) and Adrianne Palicki (GI JOE’S RETALIATION) and others. Oh, and Randall Duk Kim, the Keymaster from MATRIX RELOADED-REVOLUTIONS has a nice little cameo.

But who are we fooling, this is Keanu’s show. The story is all about building up Wick as a legendarily bad motherfucker, and then when it’s time Reeves lives up to it with a whole bunch of great fights, many featuring a unique type of gun play. So many modern action movies – let’s take the recent THE EQUALIZER, for example – you just gotta take their word for it that the hero is able to come into a room and just kill everybody. They use closeups and quick cuts and you like the actor so you pretend along with it. In JOHN WICK it’s easier to swallow because of the way Reeves moves his lanky limbs. He shoots most of his opponents but usually at close range after exchanging martial arts blows. It doesn’t look like he’s on wires in this one, and he adds a bunch of grappling to his repertoire. Most importantly he’s allowed to kill a whole bunch of people in a row without a cut, and more often than not with the camera pulled back enough to show all his physicality.

And it’s a good acting performance too. He gets to be menacingly quiet, deliver a couple funny lines and at one point explode into an angry yelling monologue.

I mean, there must be something special about Keanu. He pulls off hair dos that none of us could.

As much as this is a kinetic and exaggerated action movie I think they do a good job of anchoring it in some emotions right at the beginning. The opening scenes about the death of his wife don’t feel like perfunctory setup. They take their time, use some POINT BLANK/THE LIMEY style elliptical editing to blur the line between present and past, and make you really feel sorry for him. Poor John Wick. Things were bad enough before these pricks came into his life. Hard not to root for him to stick a knife in a guy’s chin.

A favorite detail: he keeps his dead wife’s bracelet on his night stand, so after they kill his puppy he puts her collar there next to it. All this happens the day after his wife’s funeral, so he’s still got alot of mourning to do. He has lots of old friends but he hasn’t talked to them in years, since getting out of the game. His way of dealing with it, it seems, is getting up at 6 am to go do donuts on an airstrip (the guard knows him and lets him in). It’s the car version of that part in FOOTLOOSE where he goes to the warehouse to dance away his angst.

And by the way, after they steal his Mustang he rides the bus. He’s a car guy but he’s not afraid of public transportation.

I’m confident that this will earn the approval of most of the Badass Cinema community. It immediately made me want to go back and watch MAN OF TAI CHI and the MATRIXes again. And then JOHN WICK again. It’s an excellent capper to a run of enjoyable theatrically released asskicking movies in the last couple months. Those were pretty solid but this is something special. Stick with Wick.

acr_johnwick

 

*IMDb and numerous articles say it was co-directed by David Leitch and Chad Stahelski, but the movie and poster only credit Stahelski.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Monday, October 27th, 2014 at 11:59 am and is filed under Action, Martial Arts, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

170 Responses to “John Wick”

  1. This is one of those movies that comes along every once in a while and just scratches every itch I have as an action movie fan. Before WICK it was JACK REACHER. “Getting revenge for my dead puppy and stolen muscle car” is one of the best setups for a movie ever. Favorite stunt – Wick getting tossed off a balcony and we see him hit the ground in the same shot. Brutal. Loved the action style which made gunfights feel like fistfights, felt pretty fresh and cool and avoided the trap a lot of gun fights fall into where not seeing the cause & effect in the same shot lessens the impact. Thought coming out of theater that it felt like a high 4s ACR, 4.9 feels right, there was a bit of shakiness in some of the fights in the club but nothing to diminish the film.

    And it’s a really winning performance from Keanu that takes advantage of all his strengths and elides all his weaknesses. I don’t know if I’ve ever liked him more, and I’m a long time fan of his.

    I had to struggle to come up with one nitpick – I wasn’t jazzed about the music playing during the action.

  2. Only thing the movie is missing is a compelling villain, which deflates the movie a bit in the 2nd half since Keanu basically steamrolls everyone. Still a ton of fun though.

  3. Thanks for not being spoilery, Vern. Got a few months to wait to see this in cinemas.

  4. I saw it this weekend and really enjoyed it. It’s a mean and lean action flick with clear and well-made action scenes – something you don’t see every day, although 2014 *has* been a good year for action flicks. BUT JOHN WICK goes the extra mile to satisfy the discerning action fan. Well done Keanu!

    As for the directors, I’m guessing that Stahelski and Leitch probably collaborated on direction duties. I remember that there was some controversy about SIN CITY’s dual directors, so maybe Leitch got credit for second unit work? I didn’t really hang around for the credits, but that would be a good question were somebody to interview them.

  5. I guess I’m going to be contrarian on this one. I thought it was ok, but maybe it was a bit overhyped. The action, while clear most of the time, didn’t impress me that much. The choreography wasn’t amazing enough to justify digital gunfire and squibs (like in The Raid films) so a lot of it just felt like ‘Keanu points gun, guy falls down, Keanu points gun, guy falls down’. Repeat, repeat. There were some good action gags here and there but nothing, in my mind, to justify the praise this is getting. Also hated the lead villain’s acting, and why did he capture John Wick when he had him? Why not kill him there?

  6. I can’t wait to see this, but still, there’s something that already bugs me in advance…

    “Hard not to root for him to stick a knife in a guy’s chin.”

    Does it mean it has one of those “the main character stabs someone in the chin and you see the weapon poke into their mouth” scenes that everybody’s doing these days?

  7. The movie is just as lean and efficient as some of John Wick’s martial arts moves. I really love the fact that Wick has this long history and knows all of these characters and assassin hotspots, but the audience only gets a tiny glimpse into his past. When I finished watching this movie I actually wanted more. The world of John Wick seems large enough for several more sequels (although who knows if it will do well enough to justify more John Wick action). The neon underworld of the film reminded me a little of a non-superhero comic book like 100 Bullets or maybe some of the work of Ed Brubaker.

  8. I loved the world building of this movie. The supporting cast really gave it depth. The sets, costumes & cinematography were so great at making it feel like there was a real world of hitmen in slick suits checking into swanky hotels with a speakeasy in the basement.

    I loved the industry of this world, too. You’ve got the usual crime scene cleanup crew & doctor, the hotel & bar, but my favorite would have to be the customized garment bag with the spot for the bullet proof vest & all the weapons. You know someone had to make that special.

  9. “Reeves did not direct it, but his stunt double from the MATRIX movies, Chad Stahelski, did*. So it’s probly a style of directing too dangerous for Reeves to perform.”

    This delighted me.

    And John Wick is fantastic. Loved it. Can’t wait to see it again.

  10. Well, I probably couldn’t have loved this one more if it came to my house and gave me fifty bucks and a back massage. A basically perfect little killin’-ass movie. My favorite kind.

    That’s two years running Keanu has delivered my favorite action movie of the year. Both MAN OF TAI CHI and JOHN WICK have interesting world-building and tons of razor-sharp fight choreography and crystal-clear filmatism layered on top of simple, stark action exoskeletons, but that’s not really their secret. Their secret is soul. These aren’t winky-winky genre exercises. They take their themes and emotions seriously, and that gives them the punch that so many similar films lack. I put that all on Keanu’s shoulders. So strange that a man known for decades for his opaqueness now effortlessly emanates this existential sadness. He feels authentic. Yet for all that, the two films are far from humorless. They both have a deadpan absurdity and wit that gives them more flavor than most po-faced action dramas even attempt.

    I’m really loving this stage of Keanu’s career. I can’t wait to see what he comes out with next. Hopefully it’ll be that RZA callabo Vern used The Secret to will into being.

  11. If this review hadn’t been posted when it was, I would have taken to the infamous PROMETHEUS thread to bitch about the contrasting depictions of realistic abdomen-stitch jobs in film.

    Vern does a fantastic job listing all the significant supporting persons involved in JOHN WICK (the fuckin’ Keymaster!!!!!! Co-star of the best action sequence of my lifetime!!!), and we’re glad for it because my real-time accounting of cool people who deserve credit for being part of one of my favorite movies of the year was not so informed & exhaustive. I guess I have no choice but to watch JOHN WICK a couple more times so I can catch all the previously unheralded bits/parts I missed.
    #StuntManDirectorsForever

    (Incidentally, Adrianne Palicki stars in a pretty nifty T2: JUDGMENT DAY homage in this past week’s episode of AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D..)

  12. It’s funny that you bring up the abdominal stitching because I attended this movie with my own abdominal incision after almost two weeks of healing & I said, whatever magic pills & adrenalin he had going aside, I call bullshit on every movie ever that has someone rolling out of bed & getting back to walking normal, let alone kicking some ass.

  13. david lambert – Viggo not killing Wick was a contrivance but I was fine with it because it gave us Wick’s badass speech shortly afterwards. As for digital gunfire, many of Wick’s kills were point blank so there was no other choice right? I don’t know much about prop guns and how they do those effects but I’m pretty sure you can’t fire blanks into people’s faces.

  14. I’m surprised nobody has brought up one of my favorite moments from the movie: Bad guy trying to get away in the dead of night, then cue thunder storm…and here comes Keanu! Characters in that film say he’s a force of nature, but literally he is for that moment! So awesomely over the top, I loved it.

  15. When John Wick threw away the gun at the end, to fight hand-to-hand, I did specifically think “Vern’s gonna love this.” The whole thing really felt like it was made with Vern (and people who share his taste) in mind. Which is awesome, and should happen more often.

  16. Toxic – as far as I could tell, there’s no “shot of the knife in the mouth after getting stabbed through the chin”. I agree it’s a little cliche at this point too. (It’s too bad that things can only be done like 3 times before getting cliche though)

    I actually saw this in IMAX and liked it alot; didn’t love it as much as I wanted to (or as much as I loved the trailer) but it was still very good. The action is solid (unfortunately my mind kept thinking “this is like the finale of Unisol: DOR but not as good”, but it’s still better than 95% of Hollywood movies). The acting is uniformly excellent (Keanu’s crying scene at the beginning is fantastic, I’m really tired of people who make fun of him for being a “bad” actor). Sure, a grade-A villain would have taken this movie up to another level, but Nyqvist is an interesting one and he’s tons better than he was in MI:4 and *shudder* Abduction. Keanu’s stunt double coaxed a better performance out of him than Brad Bird or John Singleton, think about that.

    I like how everyone mentions the “world-building”, because honestly every single movie should have it but few bother to. This is great stuff, from the gold coins to the “rules” of the hitman society. Btw – I kinda love that they go to great lengths to establish there’s NO fighting in the hotel among hitmen, and my mind immediately thought about how church is usually the sacred no-fighting place in movies (to werewolves and vampires and Highlanders, at least). Then THE VERY NEXT SCENE John Wick walks into a church and kills like 5 people, it’s amazing.

  17. Most of the guns used in movies are actually real guns converted to fire blanks only, the barrels are restricted to where it still gives off a muzzle flash but retains enough back pressure to cycle the weapon. For JOHN WICK I accept CGI gunfire as a necessary evil given how close and how often they go off around people in this movie.

    The cast is uniformly good with each member making an impression in their often screen time. Adrianne Palicki brings an interesting contrast to her older counterparts in Reeves, Dafoe, and the heretofore unmentioned Clarke Peters(THE WIRE and TREME). It’s reminds me a bit of THE MECHANIC, her character Perkins is obviously talented and but she seems more of Iosef’s generation: self-absorbed and perhaps taking a sadistic glee in her work when Wick and Marcus are efficient and no-nonsense.

    Anyway, I really liked it and will revisit it very soon. I hope positive word-of-mouth will sustain it while watered-down garbage like OUIJA take a big drop in its second weekend.

  18. Regarding the knife in the chin, you couldn’t really see it through the mouth. I loved that scene because it had John Wick inches away from this guy he just killed and if I’m not mistaken it was just a henchman, not one of the guys who broke into his house. Does anyone know? I lost track of the 3rd guy. There was Iosef & the big guy he (SPOILER) was drowning in the sink & then broke his neck, but I didn’t pick out the last guy. Anyway, if he was just a henchman, I love that scene because it showed how John was not conflicted at all about his path & the casualties he was going to incur. Hell, he may have even known the guy. If it was the 3rd guy, then it was just an awesome stare of, “yeah, it’s me & you fucked with the wrong guy.”

    Something else I loved was that moment when he said everything has a price. That turn from everyone has a price to everything has a price was bloody brilliant.

  19. MaggieMayPie – I think he was just a henchman. Iosef’s other buddy was the guy who picked him up after his narrow escape from The Red Circle. You know, the one who later on wouldn’t stop playing the video game.

    I’m still trying to avoid getting too deep into this movie since many here haven’t seen it but I have to give some credit to Dean Winters as well. I was a little distracted at first because I see him all the time as the personification of Mayhem in those Allstate Insurance adverts but here’s a 180 from that. He plays Viggo’s, I don’t know, consigliere(?) and watching him slowly lose his shit as the violence escalates is nice example of the film’s understated humor.

  20. It was a really great movie……. for the first hour. After that, it started to fall apart. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate the movie, but the last half hour or so left a bad taste in my mouth. I guess I would still recommend it to action fans, since I seem to be in the minority opinion here. The action scenes are really well put together. The violence is quick and brutal in a way that reminded me of Universal Soldier Regeneration (though not nearly as creative as that movie). I loved the sense of humor. The line that Vern mentioned from Michael Nyquist sent my audience into uncontrollable laughter for about 30 seconds. I love the strange world of assassins that this movie takes place in. The assassin hotel/club was a great location, and definitely my favorite section of the film. I love how simple the setup is. It’s like a celebration of the clichés of the genre. And most of that works.

    [slight spoilers below]

    But there’s just something missing in the second half, and I can’t quite put my finger on it. I just know that I started getting bored, and then the climax happened (or so I thought) and John Wick gets his revenge….. and then somebody takes revenge on him and then John Wick has to go take revenge on that guy again. The last 15 minutes were like a replay of the plot from the rest of the movie. And then the big climax is just Keanu fist-fighting an old man on a pier in the rain. And I couldn’t tell if he killed him or not. Then he gets another dog, the end. I don’t know. It just felt really weak to me. Which sucks, because for the first hour I was super into the movie.

    I’d say it’s worth a rental if you want to see some really well-done, brutal action scenes. Beyond that, I’m pretty sure I’ll forget about this one in a week.

  21. I hate to say it, but I was left with a big meh on this. In case it was my mood, I have already watched it twice and it became even more meh on the second viewing.

    First off, the directing is exactly like if a couple of stunt guys directed it. We get to see the physicality, the movements, etc. but there is no dramatic purpose to any of the fights, no individual quirks or traits. They are just a string of gunfights and grapple moves. So I didn’t love the direction.

    Second, the opening was to me completely perfunctory and I didn’t buy it one bit. I’d rather they just show him start going if that was going to the opening.

    Third and most importantly, you cannot spend the inordinate amount of dialogue and screen time setting up the Boogeyman to then have him in the position where he could have and should have been killed a half dozen times except for intervention. Think Leon – the only time you ever worry about him is when the entire police force/swat unit is at his door. Also, Leon never got saved by Willem Dafoe. That is too much of cheat and too lazy for me to forgive. If John was less Boogeyman and we saw that he was reticent to begin killing again, maybe his getting captured or taken out by one goon with two pussies would be more excusable. As it stands, this feels like the very definition of storytelling by painting the dots. Sure they all connect, but there is no for it.

    Sidenote – I do love the details of the world but as FilmCritHulk has written about with some of these upstart writers, they put all their best ideas into the world building and hope that disguises poor characters and details that contradict. That feels like the exact movie I watched. Twice.

  22. The movie exceeded expectations at the box office and got great reviews, so we may see a John Wick 2 / more tough-guy-Keanu related fare.

    http://www.entertainmentwise.com/news/160808/Keanu-Reeves-Is-Back-On-Track-As-John-Wick-Exceeds-Box-Office-Expectations

  23. I’m sad that others haven’t enjoyed the film, but we all have our peculiar filmgoing tastes. I’m not going to try and chnage anyone’s mind, but I will point out that the fact that Iosef and his goons got the drop on Wick is explicitly explained in the film. I believe Viggo mentions that Wick must be out of practice. This is only one line, but I don’t think we’re witnessing John Wick at top form. He’s rattled by grief and he has been out of the game for some time. I’m glad Wick doesn’t cruise to victory and is at least hurt on his way to getting revenge. I always prefer a hero who has to really struggle over those who lay everyone out without breaking a sweat.

    One other things, isn’t Baba Yaga supposed to be Russian witch? I’ve read a few Russian fairy tales with her in them (she has a house that walks around on chicken legs or something like that). So I’m not sure that boogeyman is the best translation.

  24. Shoutouts to the Melville-meets-Mann club scene

    My favorite detail is that the film didn’t go for a lot of “witty”/high-faulting dialog that’s the staple of hitmen movies in a post-Pulp Fiction world. Concise, short, lean and mean, terse. Strictly professional.

  25. Even though I liked it, I do agree w/ MDM that Wick’s vulnerability was kind of strange (though not necessarily bad). I understand he’s been out of the game and he gets injured pretty much right at the beginning (and proceeds to get more and more injured as the movie progresses) but yeah, it’s odd that pretty much the first 1/3 of the movie is a long “Just how badass is he?” speech but then he seems to have trouble dispatching a good number of the henchmen.

    Sure, this (in theory) makes for more “realism” and exciting action sequences, (I’m in the minority here, but I felt Ninja 2’s one-sided fights were kind of dull and had me zoning out). But Equilibrium, Blood and Bone, early period Seagal, and both Hyams Unisols can show that one-sided battles and invincible heroes can still be amazing. I guess I was expecting something closer to those films and shouldn’t take it out on the film I got something different.

  26. Well I’m glad to hear that the chin stabbing is just a regular chin stabbing with no visible blade through the mouth. I know, it’s not like it’s already been done to death, but that’s precisely why now is a good time to stop doing it for a few years. Filmmakers don’t need to run everything into the ground like they did with, say, zombies, before they realize it’s time to stop. It’s cool to see that some of them can be like, you know what, I’m gonna use the chin stabbing part but I’m not gonna be the 5th guy to do the blade through the mouth part, because it may not a super overused cliché yet but I won’t be the guy who turns it into one.

    Nothing to do with the chin stabbing but anyone here plays PAYDAY 2? They recently made John Wick a playable character in the game. Kind of a weird idea since from what I understand he’s not a bank robber, but still, I thought it was kind of cool.

  27. I remember the rusty line but he still didn’t do anything that was so badass we haven’t seen it in a thousand other movies. That was partly my point. He didn’t exhibit any badass skills or do anything special, rusty or not.

    However, to put a finer point on my previous position, the thing that frustrated me the most was the finale. Okay, so he’s still injured. But he is going up against a paunchy middle aged Russian who barely dropped his douchebag kid with a sucker punch at the beginning. So they throw the guns away and then proceed to have a rather well lit but basically choreographed fight scene in which Wick takes numerous hits. What??? This is also an example of what I meant that this movie was exactly what I would expect stuntmen to direct. We have a drawn out fight, not because it fits the character or the story, but because they are stuntmen and so they can.

    I would suggest that a badass ending that would be totally fitting all of the badass talk that dominated the movie would be for them to throw their guns away and then have Wick dispatch Viggo with some lethal, very efficient, ie single strike move and then watch Viggo fade into the abyss. I can almost promise you that the two audiences I have watched this with would have exploded. As it was, injured or not, I did not buy the fight between Viggo and Wick.

    And so to reference Die Hard, we love Die Hard because McClane is an everyman and we know that and all of the action beats support that. Some of the chief complaints of the sequels are him acting like Superman. Well in this, Wick is the BOOGEYMAN (it is even in all capital subtitles at one point) and he keeps getting beat, captured and struggling through a fight with soft middle aged Russian. Build the action around him being rusty if you want because there was one line of exposition that says he was, but make it fit his character as introduced and defined. Is that too much to ask?

  28. Crushinator Jones

    October 28th, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    “Something badass that we haven’t seen in a thousand other movies” is actually grounds for becoming an instant action classic.

    And it’s going to get rarer and rarer as movies like The Raid come out and amp action up to even more insane levels.

  29. I don’t think it’s fair to criticize Wick for taking a couple lumps in his fight with Viggo. If Viggo had been his first customer of the day, he’d have taken him out handily. But he’d been stabbed, hit by a car, punched in the face like a hundred times, thrown off a balcony, plus he had to deal with a bunch of emotional shit, which can be very draining. I don’t know what you expect from your badasses, but I can forgive one not being absolutely 100% after that kind of day. You guys have some tough standards.

    Plus, I loved that he made sure he got to his feet before Viggo died. So Viggo would go out knowing their fight wasn’t a draw.

  30. 4.9 ACR? “Shit negro that’s all you had to say”. Avoiding the review and comments till I see it this weekend but I haven’t watched anything new in theaters since the summer. If this really is the post action killer/return to classic 70s early 80s action tropes I’m hoping for the long wait would’ve been well worth it. This is MY Guardians of the Galaxy.

  31. And another thing I really loved about this film is that it had a great look. At first it seemed like we were viewing everything through a bluish-grey, and I thought that John Wick would be one of those dull looking action films. But once Wick starts his trail of revenge, there are those wonderful splashes of neon. The monochrome beginning was just a visual representation of Wick’s mourning.

    The link that BR Baraka put up mentions that Keanu let it slip that he’s not offered many big budget films anymore. I went ahead and tracked down the original interview where Keanu mentions that the studios are no longer calling. I’ve never been a huge Keanu fan, but I found it a little upsetting that studios have been overlooking one of the biggest action and blockbuster stars of the 90s and 00s. At the same time, it’s cool that Keanu hasn’t let his career stall because Hollywood sees him as less bankable today.

  32. It might work out in our favor, though. Keanu might not get the blockbuster tentpole roles anymore, but he could pull a Neeson and become a reliable purveyer of mid-budget action. JOHN WICK overperforming is exactly the kind of thing that gets an actor like a decade of studio goodwill. I can see this being the start of a comeback. Which would be awesome, because I like Keanu. I want him to finally get some respect.

  33. On Viggo:
    “a paunchy middle aged Russian who barely dropped his douchebag kid with a sucker punch”
    I think this is bullshit. Every time Viggo delivered a punch, the film goes out of its way to sell the impact. The dude’s fists are cement fucking bricks. The film was careful to build his legitimacy as a final boss.

    Viggo was my favorite character, which is high praise for a film brimming with cool people. He gradually unravels throughout the film, or does he? He’s practically manic by the time he interrogates Wick, and even achieves euphoria when he realizes that there’s no escape for him. But this doesn’t just make him a goofy guy, it’s part of the his depth of character. He knows release is coming. Viggo and Wick (as they both agree during their parlay) are cursed by the life they’ve chosen; Viggo just saw his way out (getting killed by Wick) before Wick did (getting another dog).

    I think people in this thread who are criticizing certain aspects of the film’s plot make the mistake of looking at it as a dead dog revenge movie. The dog was supposed to anchor Wick in his post-crime life, and without the dog, he has nothing to keep him from plunging back into the underworld. Is he engaged in all this shit because of the dog’s death, or simply because of its absence? Much of the film’s best dialogue is about the difficulty of escaping that world once you’ve dipped your pinky into it, and the proof of it is when he has to go right an additional wrong that’s emerged even after he’s avenged Daisy. I think the film would be thematically incomplete if the hit on Iosef was the resolution.

  34. I had the same reaction. Kids need to do their research before they fuck with a stranger’s dog and car.

    SPOILERS BELOW

    my favorite was when he throat punched a dude to stun him while he reloaded and shot him in the face!

  35. Well, the asshole webpage of my local cinema did not reveal until today that JOHN WICK does not play in my city. I am officially done with going to the cinema.

  36. This REALLY fucking made my weekend…. I think I died inside today.

  37. In case you were wondering, the director says the bodycount for this movie is 84(!) in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. Am I crazy or does that seem a bit high? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I know alot of people got killed, but that’s like Commando levels right there.

  38. Paul Whose Computer Is No Longer Fried

    October 31st, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    Shoot – not over here either. Darn it.

    This may be another “Man of Tai Chi”. Or like it but for all the wrong reasons. I’m not a worshipper at the alter of Tai Chi, but I still thought it was pretty damn good. How the hell did that not make the cinemas when “47 Ronin” did?

  39. Neal2zod: it’s almost exactly COMMANDO levels, not counting any who may have died in the massive building explosions. I used to count onscreen deaths when I was like 12. I think COMMANDO scored and 83. The highest back then was Dolph’s PUNISHER, which topped out at 91 deaths. I believe the likes of RAMBO have since demolished that record, but it was a big deal at the time.

  40. Man, this was a fun movie. Crisp visual action scenes, a wealth of character actors (from Lt. Daniels to the motherfuckin’ Beeper King), and it’s very well paced, too. Some nice little New York locations, too… I used to go to the sushi place that is the underworld hotel all the time, and Wick ends up strolling along the Brooklyn Heights Promenade with his new pup as the movie ends. If I’m not mistaken, the Red Circle club is literally one of the City Hall buildings.

  41. THE KILLER and HARDBOILED took the bodycount to a new level. Three-digit level. And looking at this list. Shit just escalated with each movie ,until he went to Hollywood.
    http://www.moviebodycounts.com/John_Woo.htm

  42. Come to think about it, Woo´s films are more like fictitious genocides. You stop counting bodies after awhile

  43. Let’s pretend that we’re 12 again and for a brief moment enjoy the fact that the deadliest actor ever is Tomisaburo Wakayama. 150 kills in one movie; WHITE HEAVEN IN HELL.

  44. So I finally got to see this, it’s quite good but not great. Random thoughts:

    1) Keanu Reeves is a good actor, I felt damn bad for John Wick at the beginning.

    2) The scene in the Red Circle takes a brief detour into showing what Wick’s work looks like to his victims. It’s like something out of a slasher film and has a scene that sells Wick – when he dispassionately looks into the eyes of the gangster he stabs and watches him die. You know that this guy has something very, very, very bad inside him.

    3) An extended “just how badass is he?” speech for the ages.

    4) The weird little world that they build with the gold coins and shit. They never come out and say it is a crazy subculture with it’s own rules. They just put stacks of gold coins in every stash and the weird Hitman Helpers that only take payment in them.

    5) The air goes out of the movie after Wick escapes capture and kills the kid (really boring kill btw, I thought he was at least going to say something cool to him instead of just gunning him down. Savor the moment, John Wick). At that point the plot was basically over and it felt perfunctory. If Wick was going to fight Viggo they should have gone Craig T Nelson and shown Viggo boxing with his shirt off, being a muscly stocky guy who could fight.

    6) Poetic that the guy who built the crime organization (Wick with his impossible mission) is the guy who destroyed it. Not so poetic that they killed everyone interesting in the movie except for the concierge and owner of the Continental.

    7) Viggo’s transformation during the film, it felt – for lack of a better word – organic. I really liked that he was religious but not in the stupid “fire amd brimstone way”, just a dude who believes there is a God and he plays favorites.

    8) I really felt this was an incredibly economical movie at the beginning that just sort of lost it’s way around the 75% mark and didn’t know what to do after they killed the kid. If it had been the opposite (first 25% sort of weak and then picked up and slammed it) I would have been more favorable to it. But worth seeing.

  45. For those of us who aren´t part of the very exclusive clientele who get to see this in cinema, there is quite an addictive game on the John Wick-movie page. You really need to bring your Gun Fu skills to this one. Also, it made me want to see this film even more. Which made me incredibly angry. I am pretty sick of people telling me when and how I can or cannot see a film.

  46. Paul Whose Computer Is No Longer Fried

    November 20th, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    Shoot – this is why I haven’t been to the cinema in two months. I might actually have missed some decent films, although given the lists I’ve been regularly posting about what’s actually been shown (fucking PLANES 2: FIRE AND RESCUE lasts for six freakin’ weeks?!!) I doubt there’s been too much. It’s got to the point where I’ve basically stopped checking.

    It’s ironic, because after all that palaver I made about wanting “new” films in the ROAD WARRIOR thread, it seems like all of my recent movie-watching has been from decades-old DVDs. Rediscovering some of my old Jackie Chan favorites (THE YOUNG MASTER, DRUNKEN MASTER, etc) has been a life-affirming experience.

  47. So, after originally being scheduled for release tomorrow over here, now I learn it’s been changed to April. Sigh.

  48. In the immortal words of Randy Savage:

    “OOOOOHHHHH YEEEEAAAAHH!!!”

  49. One thing I was surprised to learn from the Blu-ray was that it’s way more of a New York movie than I thought. It’s so stylized that I assumed they did a day or two of exteriors and helicopter shots in NYC and then shot the rest of it in Cleveland or something, but no. They filmed the whole damn thing there. The climax was shot at the Brooklyn Navy Yards, right down the street from where I lived at the time. I’d actually worked on an Apple commercial there not that long before. One thing I’ll miss about New York is feeling that closeness to so many movies I love.

  50. I wish more movies would shoot on location out here again. That’s one of the things I love about 70’s and 80’s cinema. Like a MARATHON MAN, DEATH WISH, THE FRENCH CONNECTION, THE TAKING OF PELHALM 123, TAXI DRIVER etc.

    NYC becomes a character in itself in a lot of movies from those eras because using the authentic city adds so much atmosphere to the productions. I do know that the permits are so outrageously expensive now that it wouldn’t be very practical for most productions. Still there is nothing more jarring to me than “Here we are in NYC” when the visuals clearly say “This is actually Vancouver” or some shit. It takes away from the immersion though it doesn’t really a hinder a TV show or movie either if it’s still competently made; it’s just a bit of a pet peeve I have as a born and raised New Yorker is all.

  51. A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES was a recent NY movie. They shot some of it (mostly the guy from THE GUEST’s pad, I think) right in my old neighborhood (Fort Greene/Clinton Hill), but that was your standard “brownstone & stoops” sidewalk shit like you’d see on FRIENDS. They also showed areas of Brooklyn you never fuckin’ see, though. So that was a good one.

    But I’ve worked on enough commercial shoots in New York to totally understand why most movies wouldn’t want to bother coming to the city. If you’re some laid-back Cali crew who’s used to interstates and parking lots and nonstop air conditioning and an infrastructure that’s set up for filming, shooting in NYC is gonna feel like hell on earth. I heard it all the time from L.A. people shooting in NY for the first time. Just the traffic and parking alone adds so much time and money. Plus the unions are way less conducive to helping productions get shit done on budget than they are in Hollywood. There’s some real ballbusters in those locals. Ain’t nobody bending over to help you. Just trying to get from place to place is like a war. Things that would be so easy out west take a whole day in New York. The city will eat a production alive if you’re not prepared for it. I can’t really blame filmmakers for not wanting to add that extra level of difficulty to the already momentous task of making a movie.

  52. I liked that John Wick rather use public transportation than the shitty car he has left in his garage.

  53. SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS

    Lots of little things to appreciate here. I love that the weasely assassin played by Adrianne Palicki gets killed by Ian McShane for a mostly unrelated murder, and nobody ever knows or cares. Having already been bested by Wick earlier in the film, she is unworthy of the honor of dying by John Wick’s hand.

    I also kind of like Michael Nyquist’s weird performance. He could be doing a lot of scenery-chewing stuff, but instead he’s twitchy and manic. I think the idea is he already knows he’s ultimately a dead man, and is actually sort of enjoying the process of self-immolating. Makes it a little more fun. A good antidote for his somnambulist performance in MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 4.

  54. I didn’t even realize they were the same guy until now. Comparing those two performances is very instructive. They’re like the Goofus and Gallant of how to play a generic-on-the-page villain.

    I love the fatalism of John Wick. He’s like Death in the FINAL DESTINATION movies. Once you’re in his sights, all you can do is delay the inevitable.

  55. Majestyk, when you talk about the parking and getting around I can’t help but think of a time some friends and I tried to park and stood on the curb trying to decipher if it was a legal spot or not by reading the signs and finally just gave up and drove away to park somewhere else. And we were all college educated, intelligent people! Plus, they were all natives, so it’s not like we were small town rubes trying to figure out big city life. I have since heard there’s a funny bit on Louis C.K.’s show about how maddeningly incomprehensible NYC street parking signs are.

  56. SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS

    I appreciate the curious fact that after Wick kills that little prick from Game of Thrones, it appears that Daddy really could get away, that Wick isn’t going to come after him, that he considers the score settled. So he goes out of his way to make sure Wick is going to come after him anyway. And looks like he’s having a blast with it. It’s not explicitly made clear, but I think you can infer that the now-total destruction of his criminal empire and his complicity in the death of his son have left him with nothing to live for, but at the same time the sport of competing with someone as fucking badass as Wick has kinda energized him in a way which his fancy meetings and smarmy lawyers had not. So he figures fuck it, if I’m gonna go out, might as well be taken down by the best. I love his performance in the final car chase. Everyone else thinks they’re making a run for it, only he knows where they’re really going. And he thinks it’s hi-larious. Actually it really IS like Richie from OUT FOR JUSTICE, if maybe he’d lived to be older and more successful. Sure he’s gonna try and defend himself, but come on, we all know where this is gonna end up. Might as well enjoy the journey.

    I mean, look at his face after Wick appears in front of him with a shotgun, literally like a minute after he had just left him tied up to die. He look surprised at all? Nah, he loves it. How freeing it is to not have to worry about the future! This is the most fun he’s had in years!

  57. A favourite part of mine is also when Nyqvist phones Leguizamo asking him where he got the balls of punching his idiot son. When the answer is that idiot son stole John Wicks car and killed his dog, Nyqvist goes “Ohhh…” and hangs up. You know you fucked up when that happens.

  58. “I appreciate the curious fact that after Wick kills that little prick from Game of Thrones”

    Now, that’s a terrible thing to say about Peter Dinklage.

  59. It´s been two weeks since I first saw this picture. And five times more since then. This movie keeps assaulting me with its awesomeness. I don´t really have much to add except to weigh in on the issue that Wick is never as awesome as we are led to believe in the beginning when everyone says how badass he is.

    Well, The Legend of John Wick ™ may have built the Russian mob, but John Wick tore it down in person in front of your eyeballs. That is all you need to know. Why bother with how many punches he takes or how many bullets he absorbs. It´s the end result that counts. I am pretty sure Wick got beat up when he did Viggo that one job that nobody could pull off. Legends are embellishments so they usually leave that stuff out, because it makes the story less awesome. And even if he wasn´t, it is pretty damn impressive of Wick to ALMOST live up to the legend. If you are not impressed by that, you are a fool…or Viggos idiot son who happens to be THAT one guy who never heard of him.

  60. It looks like the John Rain series that Keanu is making has Leitch/Stahelski as executive producers. Lay in the fact that the character of Rain is an accomplished martial artist, we might have something to look forward to. I am half way through one the books and this could be pretty good.

  61. Then God said “Let there be a sequel to the great JOHN WICK.” And God saw that it was good. And he rested. The eighth day.

    http://www.hitfix.com/the-dartboard/its-official-keanu-will-shoot-even-more-faces-in-john-wick-2

  62. I just hope the sequel delves a bit more into the mythology and less on repeating the first film. It annoys me when people suggest how they should kill off his new dog or smothering his goldfish or whatever. No, just build on the world and expand. Thank you.

  63. Exactly. They did enough world building and grounding of the rules in movie 1 that they could just expand on that and go from there. No need for a rehash when they have a freaking society of modern ninjas at their disposal.

  64. One idea- Long overdue blow back from that “impossible job” he had to do to retire the first time. There could be survivors (potential for a scarred up heavy looking for payback) or whatever organisation the job was carried out on wanting John’s head, but only now able to do so because he’s no longer protected by the Russians any more.

  65. Finally caught up with this last night. I didn’t LOVE it as much as most people here, but damn, it was a good time. (Despite the unfortunate timing of watching a movie where the protagonist walks into a church and shoots everybody, even if all victims were mafia hitmen in disguise.) If George Miller ever steps back from directing, I want those guys to take over the MAD MAX series, just because of how much fun they had with creating random, but super entertaining side characters, who feel like they could all star in their own movie, the well directed action scenes and the overall very self-aware, but never ironic or jokey tone of the movie.

    One random observation that I didn’t see anybody else mention: The movie makes you actually cheer for somebody, who might be a bad guy. Granted, a bad guy who had almost redeemed himself and who only gets pulled back in because of his love for his wife and his puppy, but he IS a legendary, super efficient mafia hitman! And while I’m sure the had a certain moral code (Remember how he let the unarmed, money counting women in the church basement go?), we don’t really know shit about it. Was “No women, no kids” something he lived by? Did he only kill other hitmen or also were also some civilian witnesses among his victims?

    I’m sure we will get a further exploration of his moral compass in the sequel (Now that he is officially a popcorn hero, I’m sure we will learn that he maybe declined or even botched a job or two on purpose, when he learned that his victim didn’t deserve to be shot in the head.), but for now, the only things that makes him the good guy, are his abilities to have friends, wives and puppies and that the guys who were after him are without a doubt worse than him.

  66. Just rewatched this on HBO and wanted to come here and add an addendum to my previous appraisal of the film. I fully enjoyed this on my second go-around. I’m with you guys. Definitely a classic.

  67. Man, I hope this is a foreshadowing of the casting for the sequel.

  68. Bah.

    Try this:

    VIDEO: Even Keanu Reeves fangirls from time to time

    There's a fan girl in all of us. Even if you are Keanu Reeves.  When in Japan to promote his film "John Wick," Keanu was surprised by one of his biggest influences, martial arts star Sonny Chiba.   While comparing himself to Chiba and saying what he did was "movie Kung Fu" whereas Sonny did "Passion!," Keanu got the shock of his life. Sonny entered the room and Keanu can be heard saying, "Oh my god, oh my god."

  69. For various reasons I don’t see as many movies as I’d like to these days so have waited patiently for the stars to align so I could sit down with a fine single malt and watch this. Well that was last night and man this movie did not disappoint. There is so much to love but it’s the the richness and density permeating throughout what is otherwise a formula film that really stands out.

    As an example take the shower scene, traditionally used to show cleansing after a killing spree but positioned prior to the start of his revenge mission so we know that he is justified, that blood is not on his hands and Viggy and Iosef are reaping what they have sown. We also get to see his tattoo “Fortis Fortuna Adiuvat” tattoo (Fortune Favours the Brave) contrasting him with the weak and cowardly Iosef whilst simultaneously hinting that JOHN WICK was a former US Marine stationed in Hawaii (maybe a little nod to Keanu’s own heritage too). Plus there are two tattoos of crosses and praying hands signifying, I guess, that he was or is a religious man, or at the very least had at least a modicum of faith at some time in his life.

    I love how when the cop shows up with a clear view of bodies, guns and pools of blood in the hallway, with bullet holes in just about every interior and exterior surface of the house, he doesn’t show even the slightest flicker of fear, just another hint that the movie has of this massive criminal underground society operating at the edge of our own, without ever explicitly laying out how it all works.

    I can’t wait to see this again. There must be tons more I missed.

  70. I thought that the tattoos were more representative of his past in the Russian mafia. Not that I’m an expert on Russian mafia tattoos, but that’s what I thought they were, more than a religious past.

  71. I think there is a religious motif to an extent; Viggo uses the church as a front to launder his money and when he captures him he tells Wick something to the effect of God took Wick’s wife away from him as justice for Wick’s crimes, and that both of them are cursed men for what they have done over their lives. That’s a pretty bold statement for Viggo to make because it testifies that Viggo believes in God, even though he has mocked the Church and Priesthood by using them for his own corrupt ends.

    Maybe my own bias is showing on that though, I come from an orthodox Jewish family although don’t consider myself religious, and am married to an atheist former lay preacher so I guess I have a tendency to see spiritual symbolism where there isn’t any.

  72. JOHN WICK:CHAPTER TWO. I like the new title

  73. I thought it was supposed to be a prequel. I guess it will also just have flashbacks.

  74. Well, the chapters in a book don’t have to go in chronological order.

  75. I am glad it is a sequel ( if it is) I really don´t want to have Wicks backstory explained explicitly. I want to have some room for imagination left, especially for that “impossible” task that built the russian mob.

  76. I have a question, how do you guys feel about the plot of movies where it starts at the end and then the movie jumps to the beginning? I know they’ve been doing it for years but I can’t think of too many times where that storytelling device was ever actually needed. Therefore, the sequal should just be further adventures of John Wick.

  77. I feel like a lot of times it’s just a cheap sop to the audience’s perceived impatience. Rather than letting the story build naturally, they think they need to give the audience a taste of what’s coming or they’ll, I don’t know, get up and leave or something. Even in JOHN WICK, which I loved, it’s pointless. It’s not the climax or even really that important an event in the story that they start with. It’s just to let people know that the violence they paid to see is indeed on its way, just hold your horses. It serves no valid storytelling function beyond that.

    I particularly hate it when they do it in horror movies. Whatever happened to the age-old strategy of establishing a feeling of Apollonian normalcy before slowly letting the Dionysian element of chaos and horror intrude? You know, pretty much the entire basis on which the horror genre is founded? (Source: King, Stephen; Danse Macabre, 1981) Just jumping right into it works sometimes when the natural starting point of a story is horrific, but I think it’s cheating when you just jump ahead to some poor bloody girl running barefoot through the woods because you think I’m too dumb to sit through a half-hour of set-up like an adult.

  78. I agree with Majestyk about the flash-forward being mostly unnecessary in horror films in particular. I mean I love the good ole violence when it’s there to serve a narrative purpose but I don’t go into a movie looking for it, so it doesn’t need to be flashed up front like Grannie’s underwear (crazy naked granny in the linear THE VISIT was sufficient to scare and scar me though).

    Flash-forwards are better suited to nourish stories like THE USUAL SUSPECTS, where it serves to keep you off the trail till the end.

  79. *Noirish* stories. Nourish works too though, choose your own adventure…

  80. The end at the beginning is one of my most hated tricks. JJ Abrams uses it a lot.

  81. “but I think it’s cheating when you just jump ahead to some poor bloody girl running barefoot through the woods because you think I’m too dumb to sit through a half-hour of set-up like an adult.”

    The FRIDAY THE 13TH started like that.

  82. The start of JOHN WICK reminded me of how MAX PAYNE- THE GAME starts. It starts off when everyone is dead, then flashes back and connects at the end to give a sense of completion, going full circle or something like that.

  83. Man, I fucking love Max Payne, did you know the developers are actually coming out with a new game soon?

    It kinda looks a little generic though, typical sci fi instead of the pulpy feel of Max Payne.

  84. I actually can’t think of any movie, where it made sense to shuffle the timelines around. I cut it some slack if it’s some kind of stylistic device that happens all through the movie, although even here most of the time the movie ends and I think: “And they couldn’t have told the story in a linear way?”

    Still, the random “Ending at the beginning” is such an overused and offensive cliche, that hopefully will quickly go the way of the bullet time. Especially on TV! I get that some shows need to get potential viewers hooked before they have a chance to switch the channel, but fuck that! Just…don’t.

  85. It felt like almost every single episode of ALIAS started in medias res. It annoyed me, because I never found it interesting finding out what led up to that moment.

  86. The Original Paul

    February 22nd, 2016 at 3:47 am

    Yeah, J J Abrams uses the device a helluva lot. And I’m basically on the same page as the majority. Unless you’re PULP FICTION, you have to know exactly why you’re using the device and how it contributes to the narrative, not just as a “spoiler preview” with no purpose except Majestyk’s “sop to the audience’s perceived impatience” (nice way of putting it!)

    One film where it really, really annoyed me (admittedly there wasn’t much about the film that didn’t) was MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 3. Because 1) they started by showing the only effective scene in the entire film, so everything after that was an anticlimax; and 2) it turned out to be a great (and really predictable) cheat anyway. It felt insulting. “We’re going to add pathos to our film by showing you the death of a major character at the start of it! Except that the character didn’t actually die, thereby invalidating the whole point! And you probably won’t believe her death was genuine anyway!” It was less of a storytelling device, more of a cheap gimmick that didn’t even work at the purpose it was obviously intended for anyway.

  87. Griff: I assume you meant to say the FRIDAY THE 13TH remake, which is still not a good movie but does not, in fact, begin with a flash-forward. It begins with a violent prologue showing the past inciting event of the present-day massacre, just like the original. No FRIDAY has ever tried to use narrative techniques more sophisticated than the occasional basic flashback, and that’s the way it should be unless Tarantino ever takes them up on their offer.

  88. Oh come on, don’t act like the out-of-order narration of Tarantino’s movies ever added anything to its storytelling. Well, except RESERVOIR DOGS, since this was the only time where the flashbacks actually caused some surprise reveals. But outside of that one, none of his movies earned any extra something from shuffeling scenes and storylines around other than it being a useless gimmick.

  89. Still dying on that hill, huh, CJ? Good for you.

  90. Everybody needs a hobby.

  91. Rick & Morty had a really funny aside in their Purge parody episode about ‘Beginning with the end’ flashback structure. Ends with the lead character accidentally murdering the writer and yelling at the dead body that now would be a good time to flashback to the beginning of his life.

  92. I wonder what it means for the story as the JOHN WICK CHAPTER TWO production moved to Rome. Maybe the movie starts in Europe and Wick has gone to the Vatican to confess his sins. Instead of befriending a puppy he befriends a pope.

  93. I wish Alex Winter would cameo as a fellow assassin or former partners in crime and Sandra Bullock as his new leading lady.

  94. I don´t know about that. Be careful for what you wish for. they already have Laureence Fishburne in there, which is cool.

  95. I completely forgot that Larry was also gonna be in it.

  96. I hope Peter Stormare plays Viggos brother. It´s been a tradition of “swedish russians” in Hollywood movies that Stormare is part of

  97. Peter Stormare will always be Slippery Pete to me.

  98. I will only say, CJ, that the first time I saw KILL BILL VOLUME 2, when I was wrapped up in the story of The Cruel Tutelage of Pai Mei, and simultaneously remembered that Beatrix was still buried in a grave and realized that this was all leading up to her using the one-inch-punch to escape, is one of my greatest memories of cinematic sublimeness. So no. Of course I do not even remotely agree with you on that one at all.

  99. Maybe “CHAPTER” refers to another chapter of Assassins that will be after Wick for some reason?

  100. I find it funny that Peter Stormare is part of SEINFELD mythology. But who is surprised, really?

  101. CJ, has anybody ever argued to you that the linear ending of Pulp Fiction wouldn’t be as fun and satisfying as how it ends now?

  102. I love this movie as much as any action movie I have seen in the last ten years. But the dog. Man the dog. When it comes on I always want to watch but I have to wait until 19 minutes in. Can’t even see that dog without crying. Pussy.

  103. 2nd trailer out:

    JOHN WICK 2 Trailer 2 (2017)

    Official "John Wick: Chapter 2" Movie Trailer 2 2017 | Subscribe ➤ http://abo.yt/kc | Keanu Reeves Movie #Trailer | Release: 10 Feb 2017 | https://KinoCheck....

  104. Hahaha, I came here to post that same trailer, karlos! I think it looks pretty great! I’m especially happy that there is a shot after John’s house blows up where we see him standing there beside his dog. I really don’t want to see another dog death. My other favorite part is where Ian McShane says “You have no idea what you’re up against” and then all 200 people in that plaza freeze and look at JW. I feel like that will either lead to a fantastic tension scene…… or the bloodiest shootout of all time…….. Either way, I’m good.

    Also….. ALL THOSE HEADSHOTS!!!!! I love a good, bloody, R-rated action flick!

  105. RJ, it looks magnificent. And no, we don’t want anymore doggy death!

  106. Holy crap, that trailer made me smile. It seems to be taking the series into an even more over-the-top and cartoony direction than the first one, but that may be a good thing. This looks like the movie Shoot Em Up should have been.

  107. How to get Vern to read a comic book – step 1:

  108. I was real excited about the news of that comic until I saw it’s being published by Dynamite, whose track record for comics licensed from movies is less than great. Hopefully this will be more like their James Bond comics and less like their Army of Darkness and Highlander ones.

    Also while I’m wishing it would be amazing if Alex De Campi wrote John Wick comics.

  109. This year fucking sucks already. JOHN WICK CHAPTER TWO is not gonna hit cinema in Sweden at all.. It´ll be DTV….again.

  110. You need to move.

  111. Not to be grumpy or anything but I predict JOHN WICK CHAPTER TWO to be Best DTV-movie of the year.

  112. I am so mad at this, I can´t let it go. I can forgive the distributor for not giving the first one a wider screening as they at least that time they gave it a limited screening. Considering the hit JOHN WICK was you´d think they would give the next exciting chapter a better pass. But no. They will not show it. At. All. Not even in Stockholm. What kind of horse shit is that?

    Well, I know now that I will order my blu ray from amazon, and not let these ass hats get any money.

  113. The UK cinema release of JW2 has been cut by 23 seconds by the studio to secure a 15 rating.

  114. Let us for one minute mourn the poor treatment John Wick is getting in Europe.

  115. No news about Germany yet, but it gets a theatrical release and unless the distributor wants a 12 rating, it will most likely run uncut here, just like part 1.

  116. This kinda treatment gets right on my wick.

  117. Germany…of all places cuts Wick some slack,

  118. No release date scheduled for Australia yet either, which is actually starting to stress me out more than I’m comfortable admitting to be honest.

  119. The reviews are trickling out and it looks like JW2 is equal – or maybe even superior – to the first.

  120. Great! I´ll miss it in theatres!

  121. So, Peter Stormare does not play the brother of Viggo and just plays some dumb lowrent villain in this? I am not sure, but I am pretty sure that is what happens.. What a fucking waste!

  122. Peter Stormare has a history of playing lowrent villians.

  123. JOHN WICK 2 not being released in Australian cinemas makes me so furious I feel like Russian gangsters killed my dog. I bet Trump has something to do with this; payback for that refugee deal.

  124. I expected Stormare to play Viggos brother. Swedes playing russian villains is a trope that I would like to continue

  125. Shoot, Stormare’s got a nameplate on his desk that makes it very clear who he is.

  126. Aha, well I be sure to check it out when it goes straight to dvd.

  127. Since Mikael Nyqvist is pretty new to the russian gangster game I guess we’ll see more of him than Stormare and Skarsgård in the near future. Perhaps it’s time to switch to Norwegian actors?

  128. Now that the current administration is buddies with Russia, maybe movies will veer away from using the Russian mafia and vaguely Eastern Europeans as bad guy fodder. I think Norway or really any of those Scandinavian socialist countries would make a great a great foil. We can even have a strong Capitalist come in and metaphorically break apart their planned economies by punching people in the face.

  129. We don´t have planned economies. We have mixed economies, a system of capitalism and socialism combined. Or at least we used to. Now it leans more heavily towards capitalism and privatization of everything.

  130. Uh-huh. And why would I trust the word of a shifty-eyed Scandinavian?

  131. Man a re-watch of John Wick 1 really cemented how great it is. The plot seemed to move faster, it was easier to pick up on the little nuances of the dialogue, and even the action seemed a lot clearer to me this time (might have been a bad theater I saw it in ). Tiny supporting parts really pop off the screen now – Ms. Perkins has relatively little screentime but she’s surprisingly well-developed and I have to admit I was kinda sad to see her go. Also I really hope John Leguizamo and the cute bartender are in the next one, because they’re great with their 2 minutes here.

    Nyqvist’s take on the villain, one of the weakest parts in my first watch, is now fascinating- he’s one part “I know I’m going to die now, it’s just a matter of time” and one part long-suffering, exasperated sitcom dad. So yeah, a combination between Richie in Out for Justice and Al Bundy, which is not what you’d expect for the main villain but it really works. Still not sure if the hand-to-hand fight was the best way to end the movie, but I’m more ok with it now. Hopefully the sequel will find a way to switch things up and up the ante without going overboard into parody.

  132. I think Nykvist puts in a suffiecently quirky performance without going entirely Travolta-overboard. Of course “PRICELESS!!” is one of those . I like how he goes full Swedish accent rather than the Ivan Drago- accent of yore, it makes it more distinct. That pimpass hat he wears one time is also another little touch that is nice. Not to mention the moment he smells Defoes home made energy drink.

    He definitely gets to develop a character way more than in GHOST PROTOCOL which wa sthe most blank villain of them all. He was just evil because well he was evil.

  133. I rewatched this one last week in anticipation for the sequel as well, and damn, if it isn’t even better the second time around. I thought I would be bored during the first section that focused on Wick mourning, but this part is really necessary in order for everything afterwards to have an emotional impact. I like the fact that the directors make us wait to get the action. And the scene in the nightclub is still a thing of beauty.

  134. Oddly enough I find Russian gangster villains some of the most boring and non-threatening villains in most action movies.

  135. Part 2 now has its German rating and it’s surprisingly an 18! (Part 1 got a 16.) I don’t think the distributor will cut it before its release over here, but we’ll see.

  136. Saw it last night, I think I can safely say that most everyone here is going to really dig JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2.

  137. Proof you guys will probably dig it as much you are expecting/hoping to:

  138. Darn it, I’ve been so lucky with my linking as well. Let me try again.

    Link:

  139. Why were you bemused by it?

  140. The article: because it’s one of those moralizing articles that Leonard Maltin (and Roger Ebert on a bad day) would write that goes right up to the line but not saying: ‘No wonder there are so many mass shooting with movies like JOHN WICK being made! Well I never!’ Every now and then we bitch/make fun of that awful moralizing so I thought some of you guys might get a kick of the article and use it as proof that this movie is exactly up our alley.

    They are funnier than the constant barrage of ‘They need to stop making ‘X’ kind of movies because they are destroying art and humanity’ which always, always translates to: ‘I don’t like ‘X’ kind of movie, I wish they made more of what I personally like.’

  141. I thought it was funny that I ran into an article the Guardian wrote about how sad it was that John Woo left Hollywood. No consistency in their opinions over there.

  142. “Won’t somebody think of the children!”

    I saw John Wick 2 last night, and it does everything you want a sequel to do. It does feel like a second chapter in that it acknowledges what came before, but then it really expands on the world. Even more than the first film, this feels like a long lost John Woo flick from the 90s.

    Also, I don’t want to be too nitpicky, but bemused isn’t synonymous with amused. It actually means “puzzle, confuse, or bewilder.” (Unless you meant that you found the Guardian article confusing rather than funny. In which case, I guess I’m the asshole).

  143. RBatty: You are not an asshole. I misused the word and all that time when I was an English major is now a sham (also my how my posts here frequently have missing words and such). I apologize and thank you for the correction.

  144. I’m not mad at that review. He clearly frames it as his own personal experience, not an across-the-board condemnation, and he expresses his feelings well. I can see how the cumulative effect of all that consequence-free gun violence could cross someone’s personal threshold. I’m about as desensitized to fictional violence as anyone but even I wondered how many times I needed to see John Wick flip a guy to the ground, hold him there while he shoots two more guys, then finish off the first guy with a point blank shot to the head. It happened so many times it started to lose all meaning.

  145. Please don’t apologize! For the longest time, I also used bemused as synonymous with amused, but then I came across it on a list of commonly misused words, and afterwards it was hard not to see when it was being used differently from it’s original definition. Also, there are so many times on this sight where I really wish we had an edit button.

  146. SPOILERS??
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
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    .
    I noticed that (how could one not). I felt it was weird they kept using that move after the move got it’s own high-point during the tunnel part and shotgun.

  147. “To put it bluntly, it took film-making this good to realize just how sick we’ve all become” – Man from The Guardian.

    Man, I hope the JW2 guys put that on the posters.

  148. I don´t blame people for being uncomfortable with the type of stylized John Woo-esque violence that we all find so enjoyable. It is problematic , that we enjoy it for one, but also in these times when schoolyard shootings and mass murder killing sprees are less of an anomaly and more of constant occurances ( or it feels like it at least), I can definitely see if it make speople sick or queezy about watching this type of glorified violence.

    Visual pleasures are when it comes to certain topics, certainly problematic. The type of mass destructive destructa-thons in superhero movies in a day when global terrorism and the tragic effect of collatarel damage is real and not just some random anomaly . It could happen to anyone of us.

  149. I can understand The Man From The Guardian having enough of on-screen violence, but I also think he’s full of it. If he don’t like it, move along.

    I just hope he doesn’t come back with a second article saying that, surely desensitization to on-screen violence can only lead to desensitization to real-life violence, too?

  150. He did move on, didn’t he? He was paid to review a film, he had a reaction that he himself found a little embarrassing, he chose to be honest about it, and (I’m assuming) he went on with his life. I doubt he’s still camped outside the theater, trying to scare off the patrons with prognostications of moral corruption.

    Besides, since when do we give a shit what critics think? They’ve never understood action and they never will. We do nothing but complain about toothless PG-13 action movies that couldn’t offend a fly and here we finally get one hardcore enough to scare a few squares and we get all defensive about it. Are we not proud of our sophisticated palettes that can find the sweetness in spices far too strong for mortal tongues?

  151. I apologize guys, I posted it on the basis that a critic was semi-offended by it so that’s proof we’d all love it. Re-thinking it, it was kinda mean-spirited and it looks like I didn’t make the intentions of posting well known. I wasn’t trying to get anyone mad at the review (that would be foolish and childish). Regardless my intention was lost or it just wasn’t that good an idea anyway. Not fair to the writer of the Guardian piece, who as Mr. M said: ‘framed it in personal experience.’

    Example of what I was going for: If the Internet existed I would be posting Roger Ebert’s horribly negative review of DEATH RACE 2000 (which is a total think of the children review from what I remember (it’s been a while) as proof that DEATH RACE 2000 is right up our alley.

    So sorry for the mean-spirited post and making people here think I was trying to rile you guys up, didn’t mean it to come out that way!

  152. You have nothing to apologise for, Geoffreyjar.

  153. I just found out I might be getting to see JOHN WICK CHAPTER TWO in theatres after all. A lot of complaining and bitching and moaning from people have made the distributor change their mind. It will open in Swedish cinemas. The question is, will JOhn Wick come to mine?

  154. I wasn’t sure where else to put this, but how in the *fuck* did this slip so far under my radar that I’m only first hearing about it today?? http://birthmoviesdeath.com/2017/03/08/the-first-atomic-blonde-footage-is-here-to-melt-your-eyeballs

  155. Never heard of this one, either. Looks fantastic. Good find, Mixalot.

  156. Additional: Full “restricted” trailer out tomorrow, apparently.

  157. Man, they could have called it SISTER JOHN WICK. This looks amazing

  158. Here is the red band trailer. NSFW. Presumably.

    I’m posting this from work. The irony is delicious.

    https://youtu.be/nI7HVnZlleo

  159. Is this a period piece? German police cars and uniforms don’t look like that anymore. (nitpicknitpicknitpicknitpick)

    Anyway, HOLY SHIT, THAT LOOKS AWESOME!!!!!!!

  160. Isn´t it supposed to take place during the Cold War? Or have I missed something?

  161. I’m not impressed. Strikes me more of a parody tonally than something like THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT which had some earnestness. Sucks cause you know she played Furiosa and all so l SHOULD want to see this but I feel nothing.

    It’s encouraging to see more Wick clones will be on the way though. Maybe now action movies can quit trying to always Jason Bourne everything up.

  162. Wait..I wasn´t wrong…? I…have…to…sit down…..to..fathom …it. *falls over, smashes head into the concrete floor and ends up in a dreamy coma*

  163. But Broddie, if we don’t make it like Bourne how will we know to take it seriously or not?

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