Top 100 Films Of The 2010’s – #57 – John Wick (2014)


RELEASED: 10th April 2015

DIRECTORS: Chad Stahelski and David Leitch

CAST: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Willem Defoe, Dean Winters, Adrianne Palicki, John Leguizamo, Lance Reddick, Bridget Moynahan, David Patrick Kelly and Ian McShane

BUDGET: $20m

BOX OFFICE WORLDWIDE: $86m

AWARDS: None

An ex-hit-man comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that killed his dog and took everything from him.

 

The film centres around John Wick, a former hitman who retired from that life after he fell in love and married Helen. Five years later however is when we’re placed in the life of John Wick, who is now grieving the loss of hi wife Helen as she dies from an illness. Out of the blue after the funeral, John gets a special last gift from his late wife, a puppy to help him move on and get past the grieving process. One night however after a chance encounter with a few Russians at a gas station, they break into his house to steal his car, beat him up and also kill his dog, leading to John going on a revenge spree to track the men down that robbed him and killed his dog.

 

The late 90’s/early 2000’s seen Keanu Reeves become a sci-fi icon as Neo in The Matrix trilogy and in the 2010’s seen him become an icon again, this time in the action genre as John Wick. With its simplistic tale of revenge after losing the last gift of remembrance from his dead wife (a beagle puppy), the film feels like a homage to the 80’s one-man-army action films within a modern setting. stunt doubles and stunt choreographers, Chad Stahelski and David Leitch (uncredited), make their directorial debuts here and thanks to their previous history of working in the stunt industry, they bring a unique perspective to the action genre this decade in showcasing the action rather than shaky-cam that we were accustomed to at this point after the Bourne franchise. The films key sequences of action, from the hit squad assault on John Wick, to the Red Circle nightclub shootout, are done brilliantly and highlight just what a tremendous job Stahelski and Leitch done in that scene, as well as the stunt workers. What makes the film interesting underneath the action and violence is the sub-plot about the Continental Hotel, which is a high-class safehouse for assassins. It’s concept has been explored further in the sequels (and eventually a TV series spinoff in the near future), but it adds that special intrigue to the film, particularly with the owner of said Continental Winston, played with such charm by Ian McShane. The cinematography work from Jonathan Sela is great as well, especially during the Red Circle sequence. Keanu Reeves is excellent in portraying John Wick, Michael Nyqvist is also really good as the villain Viggo Tarasov, the one that reluctantly has to have John Wick killed because of his son’s stupid actions. The supporting cast as also solid, from Willem Dafoe as Marcus, a ‘work colleague’ by association of John’s, to John Leguizamo as Aurelio and, of course, I’ve always got time for Dean Winters who plays Avi here in the film.

 

FAVOURITE SCENE: In the aftermath of John handling Viggo’s hit squad at his house, local police officer arrives at his doorstep due to a noise complaint. The whole interaction, asking John if he’s back in business whenever he notices a body in the background, I absolutely love that scene and laugh everytime I rewatch the film. One of these days we’ll learn the history behind John/Jimmy.

FAVOURITE QUOTE: “I heard you struck my son.

Yes, sir, I did.

And may I ask why?

Yeah, well, because he stole John Wick’s car, sir, and, uh, killed his dog.

(long pause) Oh.” – Viggo Tarasov and Aurelio

DID YOU KNOW: Michael Nyqvist cut his entire head open during a shooting of a scene with a stuntman, leaving his ear resting on his right shoulder. This resulted in eighty stitches. Some of the last scenes had to be re-done to hide Nyqvist’s scar.

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