John Wick Movie PosterThis is the movie everyone’s been raving about!  Keanu Reeves’ latest action thriller John Wick.

Ultimately the plot is a simple revenge flick with a bit of a twist. Did they kill his father? Brother? Wife or significant other (boyfriend, husband)?

Nope, they killed his new puppy.

So John Wick heads out and kills what has to easily be 50+ guys to get revenge.

Well OK, they also stole his car.  Plus his wife had just died of a terminal illness and the puppy was her final gift to him, delivered after her passing to give him some final love and family to keep him straight laced and warm hearted.

So John Wick is pissed.  His wife is dead, his puppy murdered AND he is a former “super assassin” type guy in the organized crime world. So people everywhere are guarding Wick’s target, a crime bosses son, from being killed by Mr Wick whilst sporting some suitably damp underwear from the inevitable pissing of themselves just from hearing the name “John Wick”

I believe the name John Wick was mentioned roughly 487 times in the first 45 minutes of this film…

…OK I made that up. But it’s said a lot.

John's Puppy

Why is this film so good? Let’s look beyond the action first.

The acting in this film is pretty flimsy and makes you very aware that you are watching a performance, at least in the beginning anyway.As the movie progresses things feel a lot more natural and we get caught up in this whole universe and pace set by the film.

Every scene flows so well into the next and you’re just constantly following this guy around as he’s being the BAMF (Bad ass mother fucker – thank you Dane Cook) we want him to be.  Each scene is kind of like “the next killing” and runs almost like a video game going form level to level, target to target and you’ve got God mode on and a 95% accuracy with your gun shots.  It’s really cool.

The Wick man himself has such a presence in this universe that often he meets up with these majorly scary thugs and they simply shrug, lay down their arms and say “no worries, see ya later John”, walking off in confidence that they’d be non existent in under 20 seconds if they’d pushed the point. But John then follows things up by walking into any establishment and handling the bad guys like absolutely nothing, killing them in spectacular style.

His persona is so precise, calm and you know he’s the guy everyone fears because it has been written into the movie.  Sure it’s done really obviously, but it’s well done.

What got me is the John Wick Universe.

We’re brought into this world of organized crime which has reached a level of, well, organization, that rivals the actual society we live in (you know, the one with laws and stuff).

Not only are there several groups and people quite openly discussing their business but there are businesses built specifically around the crime industry like guys you call for a “dinner reservation” who come and clean up dead bodys and clean everything out.  There’s what I like to call “criminal hospital” where you go to get better, or stay a night and there’s rules that organisations don’t break such as killing or conducting their business there – there’s a club with the same rule.

This crime world is so organized and structured that it’s almost like watching a fantasy film but sits just on the edge of reality and could just about be believed.

out for the kill

So how about the action?

This film has a marvelous blend of the gun-fu style action, martial arts and inventive hybrids that mix everything together.

You’ll see John Wick using martial arts to set up point blank gun shots, driving around in a car and strategically driving to line up gun shots and of course just good old fashioned beatin’ the crap out of people.  But you’ll get a good mix in just about every scene, drip fed as opposed to splitting things up into ‘a fight scene’, a chase scene’, ‘a gun fight’ etc. Instead it’s all one big mix.

As a martial artist I loved seeing the Aikido style wrist locks, throws and general footwork mixed with the grappling throws of judo and quite obvious ground work of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, all arts I’ve personally touched on (especially Aikido and BJJ).  The way these grappling/softer styles mixed with the close range kung fu/wing chun style trapping hands and gun work was fantastic and brilliantly choreographed.

The style of martial arts isn’t quite the mainstream stuff you see from Scott Adkins or Donnie Yen, it has it’s own flavor and suits Keanu Reeves quite well. Like ‘The Raid’, a lot of fancy flips, somersaults and triple kicks are gone and no-nonsense movements are introduced, but played off smoothly like a Donnie Yen or Scott Adkins film.

I mean, Keanu is no Yen or Adkins, but he does his stuff extremely well.

The final conclusion?

The plot is nothing special but the pace, the universe, characters and especially the action is very unique and extremely high quality.  This could easily be the action film of the year…

…never kill a man’s dog.

Oh, by the way – if you’re the kind of person who LOVES dogs, you’ll be crushed at the start of this film but you’ll love the justice of watching every snot nosed bad guy getting blatantly killed at will in the dog’s honor, so take that negative and enjoy the positive that repeats afterwards.

This movie rocks.  It’s not an all-time great but it’s pretty darn close.  Plus I hear there’s 2 more on the way so don’t wait fore the second to come out, watch this one now!

If you haven’t seen this gem, pick it up on DVD or Blu-ray.

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