I have a confession. I liked Revenge of the Sith. I liked it because it had been a while since I saw an ‘adventures in space movie’. I liked it for three whole days. And then I went to a sneak preview of Serenity. When I was done watching Serenity I thought, “Now THIS is what I wanted.” I tell this story because two days ago I saw Denzel Washington in The Equalizer and enjoyed the movie. But today I’ve seen Keanu Reeves in John Wick, and I can’t help but say, “Now THIS is what I wanted.”
Make no mistake. Denzel will always be a better actor than Keanu. That’s a given. The Equalizer does indeed try harder to be character-driven. But both John Wick and The Equalizer are action movies and when it comes to action, John Wick is one of the best movies I’ve seen in years.
To be fair, John Wick has an advantage that The Equalizer doesn’t. It’s directed by two stunt guys, Chad Stahelski and David Leitch. These are two of the guys that helped make Keanu Reeves into a bad ass in The Matrix. So while this may be the first movie they’ve directed, this is far from the first time these people have worked together.
The violence in John Wick is stylized and the body count is the sort you usually see in video games, but it works because of the world in which John Wick inhabits. As the movie progresses, we learn both the rules for this world and the penalties for not following the rules.
The plot is simple: Retired hit-man loses his wife, then some punks pick the wrong damn time to attack him and then everybody’s gotta pay. We’ve seen this plot plenty of times. What makes this different is the professional style in which it all happens.
There’s a scene fairly early in the movie where after dispatching multiple bad guys at his home, John Wick calls a number, identifies himself and says, “I’d like to make a dinner reservation for 12.” Soon a group of people show up to clean up the bodies. When he goes into town, he stays at a hotel for assassins. That’s right. There’s a hotel full of assassins. The absurdity and coolness of John Wick can’t be overstated. It’s like one part Equalizer one part Underworld and I mean that in the best possible way.
Don’t get me wrong, The Equalizer was a good ride, but John Wick is what you want when you want to watch an action movie.
You can purchase John Wick at this link.
Tomorrow’s Review: Extract