I Unfucked Myself and Watched All 3 John Wick Movies This Week...
Before you all start jumping on me at one time, please allow me to hit you with a little disclaimer. You ready? Okay: I’m not really big on action movies. I don’t hate them; I have a big soft spot for stuff from the 1980’s and old kung-fu movies. But the modern fare like the Mission Impossible series or the God-awful Fast and the Furious series? I’d rather dig out my eyes with a melon baller and no pain meds. Everybody has likes and dislikes. Some of you (I’m sure) can’t stand the kind of B-movie fare that I live and breathe for. I get it…I really do.
Still, the world has gone mad not just for the John Wick series but Keanu Reeves as a human being. While it’s a well-established fact that he’s one hell of a fine person, I just assumed the movies were more of the same stuff that fills the shoot ‘em up void today, Keanu or no Keanu. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I’m eating my words without a single complaint.
The premise of the entire series is simple. John Wick (Keanu Reeves; Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, The Matrix series) is a legend in the underground world of organized assassination. He’s the Baba Yaga, the Boogeyman. He once killed 3 men with a fucking pencil. He’s “a man of focus, commitment, and sheer fucking will.” He is, in short, beyond legend; the ultimate assassin. He manages to retire from the life and marries the love of his life. When she dies from a terminal illness, she leaves him an adorable beagle puppy. One night, three Russian thugs rob his home and take his prized 1969 Boss 429 Ford Mustang. They also kill his puppy for good measure. Having reawakened the beast, they start a chain reaction of insane death that will cross oceans and break all the rules.
While it’s true that action movies are more about style than substance, you’d be hard pressed to find a series that embodies that better than John Wick, John Wick: Chapter 2, & John Wick: Parabellum. They’re the most stylish action flicks going. The attention to detail is utterly first rate. Every setting feels rich, powerful, & imbued with heavy underground history. The gold coins are masterworks. The markers are just plain sick in form and function. The suits are damned sexy. The workers at the call exchange are all dead sexy beauties covered in tattoos and looking like Bonnie Rotten in a pinup shoot. The weapons displays are hypnotizing. The rules and regulations cover the bases for a secret world that (admit it) we’d all kill to be a part of. It’s the stuff of dark dreams made manifest. There’s a whole mythology at play that is just beginning to be explored (thank God they’re not stopping with a trilogy).
The cast is a bunch of heavy hitting badasses- Ian McShane (Deadwood, American Gods) and Lance Reddick (LOST, Fringe) as the manager and concierge (respectively) of the fabled Continental Hotel in NYC are there for every film and actually manage to steal scenes from Keanu! The other appearances are just as stout- Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix) as The Bowery King, Willem Dafoe (The Boondock Saints), Alfie Allen (Game of Thrones), John Leguizamo (Spawn), Michael Nyqvist (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), Common (Suicide Squad), Ruby Rose (Orange is the New Black), Halle Berry (Monster’s Ball), Anjelica Huston (The Addams Family), Mark Dacascos (Brotherhood of the Wolf)….you get the idea. It’s a diverse selection of Hollywood A-listers, rappers, martial artists, fighters, and even a Maybelline model/boxer! That’s some serious fucking diversity. It shows you the commitment to putting all the cards on the table.
Again- attention to detail. That assassin’s underworld is representing the entire scope of humanity in all sexes, sizes, colors, and shapes, and John Wick is still the fucking Baba Yaga!! Reiteration of sheer badassery!!
Then there’s Keanu Reeves. To say he’s cast “against type” here is an understatement. Yeah, yeah…I know he was in the Matrix but that’s night and day from this. Keanu has a slow, awkward style; his delivery of lines and a methodical way of doing practically everything that just doesn’t jump out and scream action flick. I imagine the first exec to hear the suggestion laughed like a banshee. I damn sure laughed when I first heard about the original back in 2014 while I was working at AMC theatres. It shouldn’t work, but his overall charm and sheer “focus, commitment, and sheer fucking will” carry it wonderfully. It’s my favorite work of his, bar none, and I AM the Bill & Ted generation! John Wick is for Keanu Reeves what Pulp Fiction is for John Travolta. I’ll die on that hill.
And the action? Fuck me running! It’s like an old kung-fu movie with more double taps than you could possibly count. The body count is legitimately retarded. The brutality is unapologetic and unchecked, a thing of violent delight. It’s got an Eastern style and a Western sensibility. That’s the best way I know how to describe it- no wasted motion combined with a glamorization that makes you want to fucking shoot someone in the face.
Besides, the message is one we all universally agree with: if you kill my dog, I will rain down 666 flavors of Hell upon you. Death couldn’t come quickly enough for you.
Am I right, or am I right? (I’m so sorry, movie Gods, for not having seen this sooner)