Sweatpants Theatre: John Wick, Action Flick For Dog Lovers or Art House Film On The Elusive Female Orgasm?


 

I’m a pretty busy guy, my dance card is almost always full. For that reason, it’s taken me awhile to watch John Wick. A movie that almost everyone with a penis in my life* can’t recommend enough. Described as stylish and sleek with lots of death, it totally sounds like something I’d totally be into. While that description is apt and the movie delivers an assortment of ass kickings in urban settings filled with noiry darkness and douchey club lights, there were a few things that I didn’t like.

For those who haven’t seen it yet, don’t worry this thing is mostly spoiler free, not that there is much of an opportunity for spoilers. In order to have spoilers, a movie must have a plot and landmarks along the journey. Which are two things John Wick tricks the viewer into thinking it has, but does not. What passes for a plot is really just a trigger that leads to an anthology of fight scenes that happen because someone said they needed to. And because there is no plot, there can be no landmarks.

What I Didn’t Like (Besides The Obvious)

Alright, spoiler warning ahead. This is going to be the only spoiler. You’re a smart person, you know what to do.

What kicks off the story is one of those off-beat trigger things that one would expect from Chuck Palahniuk and sound like it would be hilarious if John Cleese and Terry Jones wrote it. However, none of these folks did. So, no matter how quirky and cynically ironic the premise is, it never seems funny. It also doesn’t help that the characters speak about it in serious dismissive tones the entire movie.

Alright, enough beating around the bush, time to rip off the bandage. Prepare thyself for the spoilers. Some twatty mobsters son, played by consummate weeny Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy) kills John Wick’s dog. Which is the last gift from his recently deceased wife. Not only that, it’s a puppy! Who kills a puppy? It was a bit too macabre for me personally. Maybe the writers are cat people and think they are super funny because their mom has always told them so. The entire point never seems to spread its quirky wings and ends up being void of dark humor it so craves by the end of the movie. Yet as a dog lover, I was hungry for revenge.

More of What I Didn’t Like

The characters, for the most part, seem to know it would be better to avoid John Wick, but do nothing to improve their chances of survival. It’s almost like a 80’s slasher flick where the viewer roots for the psycho killer. John Wick’s location is always known. Hell, everyone seems to know where everyone is. I mean, they’re old gangland acquaintances. No one seemed to move on up to the west side. Same old haunts, clubs, lofty penthouses. Yet that doesn’t really put anyone in real danger. Not the kind of danger the danger producer’s could produce. Threat is governed and throttled for the sake of screentime. I don’t recall seeing such truly insipid characters since Prometheus.

The plot as a whole, looks like a EKG reading for a patient in stable condition watching C-Span while eating saltines and water. There simply is no climax, just a few people vying for the spot of main antagonist/”the person voted most likely to have their asses handed to them next,” and doing things to piss off John Wick. It was strange to realize that there was no climax. No sense of closure. No tension. John is a super character, I mean an almost zero fault character. There is also rarely a point where he is in a near death situation that he can’t get out of on his own.  When he is – which is hard to believe after seeing him kill one hundred and forty people – the script fixes it easily enough. It just didn’t seem like he should really screw up.

What I Liked

The fight scenes are what this movie is all about. Of course with two stuntmen at the helm, how could they not be. There’s lots of interlacing of martial arts and guns. I found myself wondering how much cooler Equilibrium would have been with action sequences like this. Then I thought, “And the award for Movie Most Likely To Have Benefitted From Being Written By Kurt Wimmer Goes To -”

The Continental Hotel and, in general, the movie’s world building and history are pretty cool. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

Well, that was short. Oh well.

The Verdict

I’m not saying that I need my action movies to be so cerebral that they need to be directed by Werner Herzog. Their stories don’t need to be so serious that I ultimately end up seeing Paul Giamatti put Maggie Smith through a table after she does the splits and punches him in the Tom Johnson’s nutty uncles. However, having respect for the story and having believable characters whose actions adhere to what they say is really important.

If it were sex, this movie would be supremely frustrating. Sure, it would be really good looking sex with plenty growling and bangs. But there is no climax! It just drives around the block for an hour and a half, but never really gets you there. And when you think it’s done, it turns out it has another thirty minutes in it.

If you like action movies, check it out.

 


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*Are you cringing.

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