Cool cars. Cool guns. Cool fight scenes and fighting styles, and Keanu Reeves kicking butt. If you thought that sounded like a recipe for fun times at the movies when the trailer for John Wick came out, then you were right. For 1 hour and 36 minutes, former hit man John Wick piles up an astronomical body count because the son of a mob boss killed the last gift given to him by his wife — his dog.
Before I entered the movie theater, an older man exiting the previous showing walked by me and said “Stupidest movie ever. There was no characterization.” The man missed the entire point of the movie, which came when Russian mobster Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist) finally captures Mr. Wick.
Viggo Tarasov: “And when you left and the way you got out — lying to yourself that the past held no sway over the future — but in the end the lot of us are rewarded for our misdeeds, which is why God took your wife and unleashed you upon me. This life follows you. It links to you, affecting everyone who comes close to you. We are cursed, you and I.
John Wick: On that, we agree.
The point of the movie was not to see John Wick become a better man because the audience already knows that he tried that. He got out of the “business,” got married, and lived a normal life until his wife died of cancer. But prior to that he led a morally bankrupt life. The price of sin is pain and ultimately death, and Mr. Wick knows it.
Audiences are not particularly supposed to like John Wick. They are, however, supposed to like that evil was blown up, shot, punched, kicked, stabbed, run over and destroyed every time it showed up on screen.
The weakest part of John Wick was its ending, because Hollywood went with an upbeat resolution instead of an ending the story demanded. One could make a plausible argument that the main character atoned for many of his sins by killing the monster he helped create — and therefore deserved another shot at life — but the script begged its writers to finish him off after his final confrontation with Viggo.
Overall, if you’re looking for a solid anti-hero film that didn’t get much publicity, then John Wick is a movie worth seeing. Keanu Reeves looks great, he delivers action sequences as if he were 30 instead of 50, and the whole movie exudes “cool.” As an added bonus, the movie suggests that this generation should shy away from its narcissistic, self-centered impulses and embrace the kind of moral codes that the “old guard” lived by; there must be a certain chivalry — even among liars — to keep systems from collapsing.
If you’ve seen John Wick, then let me know what you think in the comments section below. I thought it was well worth the price of admission and hope Mr. Reeves gets more work because of it.