Fri 31 Mar 2017
As John Wick: Chapter 2 is on screens and gets unexpected good reviews and not only from fans, I thought that it’s a good opportunity to see the first and original John Wick which also received some positive echos, much above what is typically delivered for a film in its genre. It’s certainly a matter of setting expectations, but I personally was not disappointed. If violent action movies are one of the genres that entertain you, good chances that you will not be disappointed either.
Rule #1 to enjoy such a film is to accept the conventions of the genre. The story takes place in the parallel universe of the crime underworld. Although bodies start to accumulate in piles pretty soon, there is no policeman in view with the exception of one cop showing up at one point, looking at the scene of the carnage and wishing good evening to the hero who happens to be a professional killer. This parallel universe is not lawless, it’s just that the laws or better said the rules are different. There is a code of honor, there are territories of neutrality, and there is only one punishment – death – for breaking rules or trespassing borders. At the roots of the story stands a failed tentative by the main hero to break the cycle of violence of his profession and jump in the universe of normal people. All this is just memories when the action starts. This film is for Keanu Reeves what ‘Jack Reacher’ is for Tom Cruise and I suspect that at some point even taking the name of the hero as a title is not a coincidence. It’s the start of a series and the second installment was not too late to come.
Assuming you bought into the story and the convention, there is some good stuff to enjoy. Stuntman Chad Stahelski is sitting for the first time on the film director chair and he delivers exactly what is expected – a coherent story telling and perfect choreography of the many action scenes that occupy more than half of the duration of the movie. Keanu Reeves delivers what is expected, and a few other fine actors show up in small and even smaller supporting roles. Cinematography is just beautiful, with combinations of dark colors that fit well the violent dark universe that they populate. If you can just forget how sketchy the whole story (or pretext) of the film is, you have good reasons to enjoy it.