John Wick: Review / by Kenneth Buff

It's interesting how this film was marketed. When you watch the trailer it takes only a moment for you to realize this is going to be one of those movies that's goofy but knows it's goofy. It's going to spoof the action hero genre, probably a bit lazily, and it's going to know it's doing it, so that will hopefully make up for the laziness. This is the impression the trailer gives, as evident by Keanu Reeve's dialogue, "I lost everything. That dog was a gift from my dying wife." None of this is really that odd, we've seen it before with films like Drive Angry or Grindhouse, but what is odd, is that this film was much better than the trailer let on, often reaching for, admittedly small, layers of depth, but in a film titled "John Wick" (a character who is neither a super hero nor a previously existing franchise of any kind) any amount of depth is quite surprising.

Now, the depth I'm talking about is not necessarily "deep" or meaningful moments, though there are a few of those, especially early on in the film (which was the strongest act of the movie). What I'm referring to when I say "depth" here is the level of believability this world creates before the onslaught of violence takes place (which is done pretty well by the way). We find out John Wick is a guy who lives in a big house, owns a nice car, and can afford to pay the guards at a local airport to let him drive his mustang down the run way at top speed. There's little dialogue through out the film, but here, in these early scenes, this adds to the mood the film is creating, and helps paint the story of this man's life and his loss.

There's also some bits of humor sprinkled here and there in the movie, which is closer to what the trailer had us expecting, but this too is done much better than the trailer let on. The line, "That dog was a gift from my dying wife" is never said, instead the humor usually comes from smart (and short) lines that point out the absurdity of a given situation, while also showing that the characters have no idea that the situation is absurd, which just adds to the comedy.

Overall I was impressed with John Wick. My only complaint was the weakness of the third act. Here the film has lost most of its humor and originality, it chooses instead to rest on the tired conventions it's been reinvigorating throughout the rest of the movie.