Keanu Reeves John WickCool 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.

He says:

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.

John WickThe 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.

John Wick MustangOverall, 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.

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

8 comments

  1. I heard good word of mouth on this movie, online. It’s rare to see an old-school action movie at the cinema, let alone one that is well made. So, I’ll definitely be catching this one, soon. Did you see Fury? Which should I see first?

    1. I was going to see Fury, but after seeing Jeremy Jahn’s review I thought, “I’ve seen enough military films that pull that kind of crap.” I couldn’t do it.

      John Wick was a fun movie. I really like the world they created for him. The hotel was cool, too…

      I actually didn’t watch Jeremy’s review for John Wick until today. When I saw the Wick trailer awhile ago I was like, “I’m there.” Like you said, it’s more old school — but at the same time it’s not. Keanu looks great. I can’t believe he’s 50 years old. He must take seriously good care of himself.

  2. i liked that dialog between viggo and john that you included. neither one of them are deluding themselves about what they are and what that means to those around them. someone pointed out another line that my husband and i can’t remember at all when viggo says, “by the way, your wife’s cancer? i gave it to her.” we wondered what the context was for that comment. do you remember it? thanks!

    1. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, Amy. I appreciate it.

      Basically, what he was saying is that the two of them are tied together. John Wick did some pretty bad things at the behest of Viggo in the past, and because we all must pay for our sins, on some level John had to pay for what he had done — hence, his wife getting cancer. But if Viggo used his own free will to be a good person, then John Wick might not have done [insert evil things here] that would require the death of his wife.

      It’s really just like Viggo saying, “I was the little devil on your shoulder whispering in your ear to kill, and you listened to me.” Ultimately, John Wick is responsible for his actions, but Viggo had a hand in his wife getting cancer as well.

      I suppose some people might be upset that Wick’s wife had to die, but from a spiritual perspective there’s no reason to be angry at all. Quite the opposite, actually. Assuming Wick’s wife was a good woman (she inspired her husband to get out of the business), then it would stand to reason that she would be in heaven. If she is in heaven, then it is self-evident that she is happy. God did her a favor…

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