John Wick (2014)
November 15, 2014 3:57 PM - Subscribe

An ex-hitman comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that took everything from him.

John Wick is a 2014 American action thriller film directed by Chad Stahelski in his directorial debut and written by Derek Kolstad. Starring Keanu Reeves as the title character attacking agents of the Russian mafia in the United States, the film has received generally positive reviews.

Variety Review
Entertainment Weekly Review
posted by arcticseal (34 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
We went to see this last night on the recommendation of friends and loved it. It is a great return to form for Keanu Reeves.
posted by arcticseal at 3:57 PM on November 15, 2014

It's kinda like someone tried to make a sequel to Grosse Pointe Blank in the style of The Raid: Redemption. Except not as good as you can maybe imagine that turning out. Movies with deliberately thin premises like this need to just keep going over the top, but this movie had an undercurrent of taking itself too seriously that prevented it from being as fun as it needed to be to make up for being so dumb.
posted by fleacircus at 6:05 PM on November 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

I thought this was Big Dumb Fun, honestly. Keanu's flat affect actually works here, considering he's supposed to be a completely devastated badass. I mean, I was not expecting a story, there wasn't a story -- just a bunch of pretty decently-choreographed gunplay. A coworker heard that description and said "it sounds like you should watch The Raid," so, I guess fleacircus is onto something, though.
posted by Alterscape at 6:18 PM on November 15, 2014 [4 favorites]

I was amused by how it was almost like urban fantasy. Like they have special hotels for criminals with rules all the criminals follow and you pay for everything in gold coins and there's a speakeasy you get into by putting a gold coin into a slot on the door.
posted by RobotHero at 6:31 PM on November 15, 2014 [16 favorites]

Not too mention the Wire alumni that were in the Continental.
posted by arcticseal at 7:03 PM on November 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

I liked the Continental detail/worldbuilding, but while, for example, something had to happen to Perkins for violating the sanctuary of the hotel, the way it was handled was pretty anti-climactic. It's good that they remembered they should do that, but they took care of it like it was a loose end instead of weaving it back in. It might have been more fun to have it all in a big final showdown, where Lieutenant Daniels shows up to kill Perkins after she kills Dafoe after he kills the uber-henchman who looks like he's going to best Keanu AGAIN.

(At least I think it was the same henchman who stopped him in the club and smacked him with the car. I forget how he dies.. in the chase at the docks? He wasn't quite distinctive enough.)
posted by fleacircus at 10:01 PM on November 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

I never understand the Keanu hate, honestly. Yes, he's not much of an actor, but in the right role, he's a pretty good movie star (which is a completely different thing, though for some, the two can overlap). It's just a matter of him choosing the right roles and he has a not bad batting average for getting that right.

Also, when you read interviews with him, he just about redlines the Chill Sounding Person You Could Actually Like meter.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:22 AM on November 16, 2014 [7 favorites]

I think a lot of the Keanu hate comes from the fact that he took himself seriously enough to do Hamlet...OK it was in Cananda, but still.
posted by miss-lapin at 10:43 AM on November 16, 2014

Cananda - home of lumberjack pandas?

I think the height of Keanu mockery came from when he starred in the Much Ado About Nothing movie. Peak wooden acting was achieved.
posted by arcticseal at 11:32 AM on November 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Average third-person shooter. The characters lacked sufficient motivation and it needed a mod to change Keane to Elba or Leguizamo or really anyone exciting.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 1:37 PM on November 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

I may be mad enough to kill Keanu's puppy, but not crazy enough to kill Idris' goldfish.
posted by arcticseal at 4:35 PM on November 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

I thought this was tons of fun. Great gunplay, great cast, good sense of humor. I loved the world-building centered around the hotel. RobotHero, your urban fantasy comparison is spot on.
posted by brundlefly at 7:11 PM on November 16, 2014

I never understand the Keanu hate, honestly.

I don't know that it's ever been Keanu hate, just Keanu disappointment. You can't really hate Keanu, he's just too good of a guy. Anyone who hates hates him doesn't have a soul.

In regard to the movie, it was pretty great. It's one of those things where I tried to explain the plot to my wife, and it took some selling. (Mob puppy revenge flick.) But I think that the initial motivation really humanized him such that I cared about what was going on. Otherwise, it was just another over-the-top action flick. It needed the humanizng subtext.

Also, I loved how everyone was ligitimately pants-peeing scared of him, and yet you still got this sense that he was not bullet proof, and you saw his vulnerability all the time. Somehow, they found this balance between genuine fear of his ability and not presenting Keanu like he was just running around in god mode.
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:32 PM on November 16, 2014 [4 favorites]

Great action flick and a good role for Keanu. I heard him recently on the Nerdist, and he was much more animated in that interview than he's been in any movie since Bill & Ted. Kind of weird.

And it's always a pleasant seeing Ian McShane and Willem Dafoe in anything.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:30 AM on November 17, 2014

This movie was so dumb. My husband convinced me to go see it with him because the premise is a guy murders tons of people because one dude kills his dog. I just had to see it to see if that could possibly be true and yup, it pretty much is.

As far as superviolent action movies go, this was ok, but The Raid and The Raid 2 were better.
posted by Librarypt at 1:28 PM on November 17, 2014

I find the concept of a murder spree for dog revenge completely plausible.
posted by phearlez at 1:32 PM on November 17, 2014 [11 favorites]

Yeah, I liked the Raid movies too, but they don't make John Wick obsolete. I've got time to watch and enjoy more than one ultra-violent murder marathon.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 1:37 PM on November 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

However, with all the work than went into 99% of the choreography, I was surprised that Perkins was executed via a literal circular firing squad.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 1:40 PM on November 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

Honestly Keanu in Much Ado About Nothing has really grown on me. He captures that snivelling little brother sort of evil really well, which works for a comedy.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 7:37 AM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Honestly Keanu in Much Ado About Nothing has really grown on me.

I mean, I like Keanu as much as anyone, and quite a lot as a pretty great-seeming actual human, but there is a line.
posted by pseudonymph at 2:22 AM on November 19, 2014

I adored this. As well as the old ultra-violence, I liked the word-building - shades of Rian Johnson - and all the little super stylised touches.

Keanu is clearly a lovely human but has he been guzzling the blood of sacrificial virgins because how can a fifty-year-old man look like that?
posted by Gin and Broadband at 2:14 PM on April 20, 2015 [3 favorites]

Plastic surgery is a hell of a business, c.f. Johnny Depp.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 7:05 PM on April 20, 2015

So I just watched this thing, because I don't really like movies or keep up with them and so I just heard of it, but I like (fictional) revenge, and, so help me, I really liked it. It's like a Raid movie with more gunplay, and the whole thing takes place in shades of blue and gray, and there are some nice old cars, and Russian gangsters with Russian-gangster tattoos, and a bunch of 'The Wire' alums (and Freamon basically playing Bizarro-Freamon) and even a lovely minimalist home? If it wasn't for the part where the dog dies, it would be like they made this just for me. It's decent, not great, but it's like they made it just for me.
posted by box at 7:09 PM on May 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Just saw this last night, and I found it really rewarding to watch it as a Matrix AU where Neo took the blue pill, went home, and then his illicit hacking resulted in him becoming a mob hitman.

The palette of the city colors was really similar (washed out, metallic, often with a tint of green), and him unknowingly tapping into his Neo powers would help explain how his skills helped him rise to the level of horrifying unkillable legend.

I also thought it would work nicely as an extension of the stylized Lucky Number Slevin universe.

Also: were we supposed to assume that his wife worked at the animal hospital? When he walked out at the end with his new puppy, he was on the same waterfront where he was with his wife when she collapsed. I thought it was a nice touch, if the inference was "unstoppable mob hitman falls in love with kindly veterinarian".
posted by a fiendish thingy at 5:29 AM on August 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

"unstoppable mob hitman falls in love with kindly veterinarian" Now that's a Mills & Boon I'd pick up.
posted by Gin and Broadband at 1:23 PM on August 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

It's one of those things where I tried to explain the plot to my wife, and it took some selling.

"Theon Greyjoy just fucked with the wrong Mexican."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:19 PM on August 20, 2015 [5 favorites]

Late to the party, and I really enjoyed it, but...

I realized would *also* have watched a movie about John Wick slowly figuring out how to take care of a puppy and that being a metaphor for the grieving process. Ie, take the first 12 minutes of the movie and then head off in the other direction. It doesn't have to end with romance, just him being a complete person.
posted by Mogur at 9:08 AM on September 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

This was an utterly ridiculous movie, but in a rather enjoyable way. I did have to do some therapeutic cat petting after the thug killed that absolutely adorable dog, though.
posted by orange swan at 10:17 PM on March 7, 2019

posted by snofoam at 5:57 PM on June 11, 2019

What? No? Everyone had NJ license plates.

I liked this movie except for how outstandingly bad the dialog was at the graveside reunion scene and then due to my visceral reaction nightclub shootout scene.

Visceral might be too strong a word. But the nightclub was the first time I was really cognizant of bystanders/innocents being around all the gunfire. I started paying attention to their behavior, then everything got Too Real for a while. Not bad enough to turn it off, but it did bring my discomfort with fetishized violence back to the front of my mind.
posted by itesser at 8:15 AM on June 12, 2019 [2 favorites]

huh. I just watched this film because it's been a long day. I'm surprised no one in the comments has said anything about the (to me) very obvious parallels to capitalism. It's got it all - the venture capitalist rules, the working class solidarity (and scabs!). The worth of a gold coin. Capital's refusal to do anything but squeeze every ounce of value out of the working class. The indictment of capital for its hypocrisy of protecting its owners over its employees, or business value.
posted by rebent at 9:04 PM on June 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

I just watched this for the first time on the basis of knowing the sequels were good and becoming a thing. Great film! I love that it was very simply just what it was. Barest of plot to motivate the action. Lots of great action. Interesting novel fighting style. All in all a fun popcorn movie.

And then the thing that elevates it, the world building. I spent the whole movie trying to figure out what series of novels or comic books they'd lifted from. None, apparently, it's just its thing. They did such a great job making it seem like it all made sense, fit into a universe that existed before. The hotel and nightclub stuff felt very much like it was borrowing from vampire movies. My favorite scene is when the neighborhood cop stops in to check on a noise complaint at Wick's house. And he sees the dead bodies and just says "you going back to work John?" No more explanation, and none needed.

It's nice to see someone execute a movie like this well, without stupidity.
posted by Nelson at 4:54 PM on June 19, 2019

"I had to kill them because of a puppy" double feature: John Wick / Equilibrium
posted by vibratory manner of working at 9:26 AM on June 8, 2021 [1 favorite]

Alfie Allen sure does play a great "failson who fucks with the wrong person."
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 11:51 AM on January 24, 2022

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