John Wick a flashy affair

John Wick pic

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Puppies, the mafia, and flashy cars set the stage for John Wick. The action thriller is brain-junk food, tasty but not filling or substantial.
Keanu Reeves is John Wick, a widower with a puppy given to him by his late wife. He is wading through life in the aftermath of the death of his wife, until a chance encounter turns his life upside down. After that, he is a ruthless assassin forced out of retirement. Reeves isn’t terribly expressive and couldn’t carry the movie on his own. The chemistry is good between the cast, but Reeves’ poker face gets tiring. The majority of the movie is chock-full of guns, cars and the Russian mafia.
The start is slow and gives the vibe the whole movie will be as sentimental and slow. Fortunately, the pace picks up. The variety of music style sets the atmosphere for the choreographed action sequences, giving them a dance-like quality. The action is quick and bloody, but remains cartoonish and unrealistic. Despite the comic-book style violence, this movie is not for the squeamish or those disturbed by animal abuse.
Reeves is the one everyone is after for revenge and money but surprisingly not sex. The background has plenty of scantily clad women running around, but there is only one female secondary character. The late wife is only mentioned and seen in snapshots. Adrianne Palicki is Ms. Perkins, another assassin after the bounty on Reeves’ head. Ruthless and cruel, Palicki brings a flare to her role.
The contrast between the two women is worth noting. The wife is portrayed as an angel, who rescued Wick from a life of crime and Palicki who is a literal devil and puts her interests above everything else. However, Palicki’s character is not central to the main plot, so this may be unintentional. The absence of women was noticeable and that realization half way through the movie was jarring. Most disconcertingly, the role of Reeves’ allies are all men, making Palicki’s role feel like an afterthought to add gender diversity.
Humor is thankfully present in the movie, even if it’s dark humor. Michael Nyqvist is Viggo Tarasov, the crime lord Reeves worked for in the past, who is caught in the middle of the unfortunate situation. His responses and facial expressions are perfectly exasperated and amusing. His character has a good mix of ruthlessness and humanity to give dimension to a villain. Reeves also managed to pull of an understated form of humor.
Supporting characters lend the movie flavor and give color to what could have been a numbing, blood-filled fare. The plot is predictable but has enough action to make it interesting. The ending was satisfying but disappointingly corny. As an action movie, John Wick is entertaining and engaging, a man’s world where cars and guns determine the hierarchy.
As a thriller, it is lacking direction and plot, with holes big enough the drive one of the movie’s many cars through. 3/5 stars.

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