Military Acttion Never ceases

By Evan Simon
MCP Staff Reporter
The main character Punished Snake is deep in the jungles of Africa; his mission is to infiltrate an enemy camp and rescue six prisoners. Snake has to lead them up a hill where a helicopter is waiting.
But there are several enemy soldiers standing guard throughout the encampment and an enemy chopper patrolling the area.
So Snake and his party sneak toward the rendezvous point, but he spots two men standing nearby, “Wait.” He instructs the prisoners as he pulls out his tranquilizer and quietly shoots both men in the head He then gives the okay and the move forward.
But another enemy in the distance sees them Snake tries to shoot him in the head but it’s no use; the guard has a helmet on.
This is bad because if he gets to call for back up Snake and his posse are dead. Luckily though Snake brought some back up.
In the distance hides the deadly sniper Quiet. She shoots the helmet off the guard, which gives snake an opportunity for another head shot. He aims and fires at the man, bull’s-eye; the man goes down and they keep going forward.
That’s what’s great about Metal Gear Solid V; it gives the player nonstop action set pieces to experience. But what’s even more impressive is that the only objective was to escort the prisoners to the RV. Everything was spot on, including the third guard seeing me, Quiet shooting off his helmet allowing the player for the perfect headshot, and the shooting of the helicopter out of the sky. All things happened because of the players choices, none of which were scripted.
The player could have gone at a different time of day with a different set of equipment and a different companion. These are all variables that affect the outcome of the game which also gives a game a strong sense of replay ability, something a lot of games lack.
Another thing the game does is to let players feel like they are amazing soldiers. Early on another character tells Snake that “ (He’s)… a legend for those who live on the battlefield…” The game does nothing short of making the player feel that way, everything from how Snake sprints to a destination, or how he holds a gun, to something as simple as standing.  A lot of games give you the promise of being the world’s greatest assassin/fortune hunter/interstellar space guardian, but few make good on that promise.
The gameplay is king, and whether it be sniping an enemy from across the map, or sneaking up on them and knocking them out, everything is extremely fun and accessible.  There are a lot of mechanics in this game, but it teaches them in a reasonable pace, and so the amount of things to do never feels overwhelming.
The missions in this game are really fun and engaging to play and are challenging but never too frustrating that they stop being fun. Even when players has failed several times, they are always willing to come back for more.
The open world is also amazing as well, with it being both beautiful and vast with several enemy composts to infiltrate, plenty of fun side missions to do and a whole lot of resources to collect. It’s big enough to have fun in, but it never feels like the player is going miles with nothing happening.
Everything about this game is balanced and engaging except for maybe its story. Not to say the story is bad by any means, but it simply doesn’t add up to how the gameplay feels.
Long time Metal Gear fans might be let down by this, but on the other hand the, story’s hands off approach may help newcomers to the series come into the franchise with little or no confusion.
That all being said, the story never takes away from the gameplay, and that’s a good thing considering how fun it is. The strong mechanics, vast open world, and beautiful graphics make it not only one of the series best but possibly the greatest action game of all time.

Words that should be banned in 2015

MCP Staff Reporter Tori Aldana polled a class of ECHS students to find out what words they consider “so last year.”

  • Bae
  • YOLO
  • fleek
  • dafuq
  • swag
  • Barely
  • or nah
  • salty
  • thot
  • Bruuh
  • Bish
  • thirsty
  • twerk
  • 21, or the associated “stoopid”
  • #hashtag
  • Kobe
  • Ebola
  • Felicia
  • turnt or turn up
  • “about a week ago”

However, by general consensus of a room of 17-18 year olds, “ratchet” should be kept for 2015

Netflix on a Nickle 04

SushiGirl_posterSushi Girl
Sushi Girl has an amazing explosion of retro star power, ranging from Sonny Chiba to Mark Hamill and everyone in between. Seriously, name a male star from the 80s to the 90s and they’re probably in this film. Danny Trejo, Tony Todd, James Duval, Michael Biehn, Jeff Fahey, and what truly blew my mind, Noah Hathaway. Hathaway is best known for playing Atreyu in the Never Ending Story.
Sushi Girl follows a thief as he is released from prison and reunites with his criminal cohorts. The film dives into darkness quickly; walking the line between criminal and psychological thriller.
This amazing cast nails every performance, but Mark Hamill steals the show. Mainly known for playing Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars franchise, Mark Hamill has a huge voice-over career. He played the voice of the Joker in the Batman: The Animated Series and a few of the Arkham games. Fans of Hamill’s Joker will enjoy his performance in this film. There are a few moments that the character takes on a similar persona.
If you like yakuza or western gangster films, check out Sushi Girl. However, due to the graphic violence, a torture scene and partial nudity, the film is not for everyone. The amazing cast is reason enough to watch this criminal thriller.

automata-poster-antonio-banderas-01In the future, robots are everywhere and there are laws blah, blah…seriously can we get a new concept involving the evolution of robotics? Isaac Asimov wrote the exact same story over 50 years ago.
I am a fan of science fiction and I love the idea of artificial intelligence but seriously I can only watch the exact same movie so many times.
Automata stars Antonio Banderas, Dylan McDermott, Melanie Griffith and Robert Forster. Another film with an amazing cast combination.
All of the actors do an amazing job however the plot is pretty close to any robots-becoming-aware film.
If you want to see a passable science fiction film about robotics with decent digital effects, check out Automata.
If you want to see something with more action (more of a Terminator plot) check out The Machine.

Clive Barker, known for making disturbing horror films and novels, is a prolific artist. Barker has been described as a living art factory—the amount of content he creates is mind blowing. He consistently turns out short stories, paintings and even murals.
Nightbreed shows the darker side of the film industry as well as the magical side. Right before the film was originally released the studio heavily edited the film, to the point of cutting out a main character. The studio also advertised the film as your standard slasher flick. Barker felt violated and mislead by the studio, wrote off his film as a lost cause and attempted to move forward.
An original print of the film was discovered, and late last year the director’s cut was released. Barker’s original version had been restored and the film was received with eagerness.
The film is about a troubled young man who is drawn to the town of Midian where a variety of monsters are hiding from humanity
Nightbreed is not a slasher flick. It has moments that are similar to some slashers, but overall it is a monster flick.
The monsters in the film are amazing, and the mythos that Barker has created feels real and believable.
Even though the clothing and music dates the film, the effects and story are not dated. Fans of horror and monster films should check out Nightbreed.

Netflix on a nickel 03

Life sometimes gets heavy, and thankfully we can take a break by watching movies.
Here are some silly and fun movies to check out.

Dabangg 2

dabangg-2-posterBollywood is the Hollywood of India; the primary difference is most of their films are musicals. Every genre has a musical counterpart, everything from romantic-comedies to action-flicks are made into musicals.

Imagine Dabangg 2, as a musical mashup of Jackie Chan’s Supercop and Rush Hour, it has the over-the-top action sequences and the great comedy cop moments. However, it doesn’t stop there, it also gives you amazing dance sequences with a catchy musical score.

Dabangg 2 is the story of Chulbul Pandey, an honorable cop who fights against corruption. Salman Khan, often referred to as the Sylvester Stallone of India, stars as Chulbul Pandey and his performance is thoroughly enjoyable.

If you want to watch a film that literally has something for everyone, check out Dabangg 2. This is especially true if you think modern action films take themselves too serious and miss the campy cheese of yesteryear.

Troll Huntertroll-hunter-poster

For the last few years, amazing films have come out of the Norway and Sweden region. Films like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Let the Right One In did so well internationally that Hollywood did big budget remakes. Troll Hunter is a Norwegian horror/adventure film that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Troll Hunter is about three students, who enter the Norwegian woods to film a documentary on a bear poacher who claims that he really tracks trolls for the Norwegian government.

I strongly dislike the self-shot movie, but there are a few exceptions. Troll Hunter is one film to make it work well. All of the trolls are computer-generated, and it is obvious from the beginning. However, the way the filmmakers incorporate practical effects makes up for sub-par CGI. When the trolls slam the ground, dirt explodes or if a giant pushes up against the trees, the actual trees move and bend.

If you are a fan of creature movies or just love fantasy check out Troll Hunter.

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil

tucker_and_dale_vs_evil_posterCombining dark comedies and slasher flicks from the 70s describes Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, starring Alan Tudyk (Frozen, Serenity) and Tyler Labine (Monsters University) as the titled characters. Together the two are hilariously brilliant and make the film fun from beginning to end.

Expecting to relax at their “vacation” cabin, Tucker and Dale’s trip turns into a nightmare when they are attacked by a group of preppy college kids. The film quickly starts referencing redneck/hillbilly slasher flicks and never loses its edge as it embraces the comedic moments.

A great introduction to the slasher sub-genre, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is for both people who do not enjoy slasher flicks and cannot get enough.

For the next issue, I will be reviewing different TV series that are on Netflix.
If you have any movie suggestions for the next issue, email me at, and in the meantime, watch more movies!

Netflix on a nickel 02

Halloween is coming and I’ve got some spine-chilling, hair-raising and bloodcurdling movies for you to watch. Clear out your queue and prepare to scream, it’s horror movie mayhem!

All Cheerleaders Die

All Cheerleaders Die PosterLucky McKee is a popular name with horror fans; he is credited with creating amazing and shocking new horror films.

All Cheerleaders Die is the definition of modern horror. McKee hits all the appropriate beats while maintaining quality. The beginning of the film starts out as a self-shot teen flick; thankfully that ends quickly.

A rebel girl signs up a group of cheerleaders to help her take down the captain of their high school football team, but a supernatural turn of events thrusts the girls into a different battle. All Cheerleaders Die is fun and fast-paced while maintaining the gore and scares. While full of superficial jokes and plot devices the film also covers gay rights, bullying, rape, and domestic abuse .

All Cheerleaders Die is a horror film that most people can enjoy but because the target audience is 18-to 21-year-olds it might fall flat.

ContractedContracted Poster

Some films ask the audience to be patient, with the promise that the film’s experience will be rewarding as a whole, Contracted is exactly this kind of film. The pace is slow and the plot slowly unfolds which might bore modern audiences. Eric England, the indie director from Arkansas, wrote and directed Contracted.

A young girl, Samantha, contracts what she thinks is a sexually-transmitted disease but it is actually something much worse.
Najarra Townsend’s performance as Samantha is captivating and her emotional journey is a rollercoaster of extreme ups and downs.

The scares come in the form of the grotesque infection and Samantha’s physical transformation. Personally I loved Contracted and enjoyed it from beginning to end. However, because of the slow pace, it is not for everyone. Fans of infection films should check it out.

Argento’s Dracula

Argentos_Dracula_3D-posterDario Argento is famous for combining the grotesque and the beautiful, as he showed in Suspiria. Combining Argento with Stoker seems like a match made in horror heaven, but the reality is quite disappointing.

Argento’s Dracula has copious amounts of nudity and gore but no plot and phoned-in acting. Thomas Kretschmann plays the infamous Count Dracula like he’s constipated with laryngitis. Van Helsing is played by the legendary Rutger Hauer. While Hauer has the best moments in the film, he seemed to need an oxygen machine or a nap based on his overall performance.

For an enjoyable horror experience watch the original 1931 Dracula or even the 1992 remake but avoid Argento’s Dracula.

Big Trouble in Little Chinabig_trouble_in_little_china_poster_01

John Carpenter is the horror master, known for Halloween, The Thing, Christine, The Fog, They Live, In the Mouth of Madness, Vampires and The Ward. Few directors have the scope and the longevity that Carpenter has. Not all of his films are horror, and some, like Big Trouble in Little China, combine horror, action and fantasy with generous amounts of humor.

Big Trouble in Little China is the story of Jack Burton, a trucker who thinks he is a living legend and a self proclaimed ladies’ man, as he gets dragged into centuries-old mystical battle in Chinatown. The effects are dated and the film is definitely a product of the 80s, but it holds up.

Big Trouble in Little China is loaded up with cheese, memorable quotes, and ridiculous over-the-top action sequences. While not a horror film, it will provide an entertaining and fun palate cleanser between horror films this Halloween.

 Have a terrifying and creeptastic Halloween. If you have any movie suggestions for the next issue, email me at, and in the meantime, watch more movies!

Zombie scares American audiences

Horror movies, costumes and fear-filled nights are what people expect around Halloween. Here to satisfy is rock star, writer, and director, Rob Zombie who has given America the privilege of attending an event that provides everything anyone could want on Halloween. There are two locations for visitors to attend, Scottsdale, AZ and Villa Park, IL.

Opening night for Rob Zombie’s Great American Nightmare started in September. The last day to go will be Nov. 1. The hours are 7-10p.m. Thursdays and Sundays. and 7-12p.m.  Fridays and Saturdays

The first two opening nights, Zombie performed for visitors, who headlined with The Devil Wears Prada. Other bands visitors can expect to see are Ghost Town, Vampires Everywhere! and the Butcher babies. Other events included are three attractions at each location. There is also an area named Blood Boulevard where there are freak shows, horror themed refreshments, vendors, music acts and characters that roam around.

Everything is indoors. It is advised to not wear flip flops or high heels. Though the attractions are open to all ages, it is suggested that no one bring anyone under the age of 13 because of how terrifying things can get.

The haunted houses at the Villa Park location include the Haunt of 1000 Corpses, Lords of Salem in Total Black Out, and El Superbeasto in 3D.  The Haunt of 1000 corpses takes visitors through the Museum of Monsters and Madmen, a recreation of the one from Zombie’s movies House of 1000 Corpses. It also includes a murder ride which allows riders to come face-to-face with infamous serial killers like Charles Manson and John Wayne Gacey.

The Lords of Salem attraction takes visitors through a 60-degree maze. According to a video posted on the website, all visitors have a bag placed over their heads throughout the entire maze. Those who are afraid of the dark or who have claustrophobia are advised against going through this attraction.

The El Superbeasto attraction incorporates humor and fright. It is based on another film by Zombie and is an attraction for visitors with faint hearts. It has a surprised entrance and is guaranteed to have visitors laughing and screaming.

The Scottsdale location also has the Lords of Salem attraction. The other haunted houses are The Devil’s Rejects and Captain Spaulding’s Clown School in 3D. Both attractions are based on Zombie’s movies The Devil’s Rejects and House of 1000 Corpses. The Devil’s Rejects attraction makes visitors a part of the group of state troopers who are searching for a family of murderers, the Fireflys. Captain Spaulding’s Clown School is promised to scare the bravest person and make visitors feel as if they are hallucinating.

Those who attend are likely to have a great time. Granted, Zombie is a genius when it comes to making people scream, cringe and jump from fright, his haunted houses are sure to exceed expectations. A website with more information, ticket sales, videos and pictures is

Tickets can be purchased online or at the location’s box office. For general admission, tickets are $25 online and $30 at the box office. There are two VIP ticket options. VIP1 gives visitors a t-shirt and faster access to attractions. VIP2 tickets give visitors a t-shirt and immediate access to attractions. VIP1 tickets are $36 online, $45 at the box office. VIP2 tickets are $50 online and $60 at the box office.

Reincarnate rises to the top

Tattoos, outrageous music videos and makeup are a few things most metal bands are known for. Motionless In White has taken everyone’s expectations of them and smashed them to pieces. True, they do possess those qualities, but they’ve proven to be more than image. MIW has been busy this year touring on Vans Warped Tour, and now with A Day To Remember and Bring Me The Horizon.

Bass player, Ghost was nominated for best bassist at the first Alternative Press Music Awards, which the band attended in July. Despite their busy schedule, the band members managed to create an incredible album, titled Reincarnate. Two singles from the album, Reincarnateand Puppets 3 (The Grand Finale [Feat. Dani Filth),were released prior to the album release date. A scavenger hunt took place around the world the week before the album’s release.

Small, wooden coffins were placed in major cities around the world with one track in each. When found, tracks were streamed on a website that was set up during the hunt.The album was available in stores and on ITunesin September, along with a music video for the single, Reincarnate.Many of us “creatures” bought the album with no hesitation. The morning after Reincarnate’s release, the album was ranked number 1 on ITunes’ metal chart, number 2 in rock and number 10 overall. MIW went on to reach number one on the Billboard Top Rock Albums chart.

I have listened to the album about 15 times, and I am convinced that I will never get tired or annoyed with it. I’ve been a fan of MIW ever since I heard the single Creatures and watched the brilliant music video that went along with it. I’ve seen them in concert twice and they’re true performers. They don’t disappoint, and neither did this album.

My favorite songs on the album are Death March, Unstoppable, and Everybody Sells Cocaine. The songs are so good that the hair on my arms stood up when I listened to them for the first time. The musicians and vocalists know how to make great music. The respect I have for each one of the members is unreal. All members are artists on their own, and when combined create something astounding and powerful.

They push buttons, but all great artists do. The album has 14 tracks, including a bonus track which is an acoustic version of the song Sinematic from the album Infamous.I can relate to every song on the album, and even cried once or twice.MIW’s lyrics are powerful andits music correlates perfectly.

“Eleven tracks is not enough to tell you how I’ve died inside” are lyrics from the song Creatures, and I’m thrilled that MIW provided the world with two albums and 28 more tracks to become obsessed with.

     Reincarnate has three featured artists, Dani Filth from the band Cradle of Filth, Maria Brink from In This Moment, and Tim Skold who has played guitar for other bands and artists, including Marilyn Manson. MIW has set the standards high for future and current metal bands.

The amount of intelligence and hard work that goes into every song is enough for me to add MIWto the top three of my list of favorite bands. The members of MIW understand that when there is no one to listen to or understand one’s thoughts; music is always there. Theyprovide music that comforts their listeners and helps them cope with the world when it feels like the world has turned its back on them. MIWhas made so much progress the last few years and I hope to see them become more successful.

Netflix on a Nickel 01

I’ve watched over 2,000 movies and rated over 1,800 on Netflix. I’m going to save you the hassle of bad movies. Here are some movies streaming on Netflix that may provide you with a treat or two after classes and studying.

Harlock: Space Pirate

Harlock Space Pirate Poster

Space pirates and 70s style mixed with CG anime sums up Harlock: Space Pirate. Directed by Shinji Aramaki and produced by Toei Animation, the film is based on the original 1970 manga and anime TV series.

The plot of this film is hard to understand. The filmmakers set up this futuristic universe where mankind has overpopulated the galaxy and is slowly dying. Billions of dying people decide to return to Earth,a tiny planet that cannot sustain their numbers.An intergalactic war breaks out over who has the right to return to Earth. The winners of the conflict declare Earth a sanctuary that cannot be violated. Then enters the mysterious Harlock, an immortal space pirate,whose mission is to return to Earth, and his “mission” is at best a weak plot device.The themes range from conservation to redemption but are never fully explored or carried out.

The film is sporadically exciting and full of one-sided space battles,with a convoluted story that fails to deliver. The style is heavily influenced by the 70s, and Harlock: Space Pirate is a beautiful anime, but that is its only redeemable quality.

The SacramentThe Sacrament poster

The Sacrament was written, directed and edited by Ti West, who directed The Innkeepers and V/H/S. The film was produced by Eli Roth (Hostel) and is one of the best documentary-style horror films of recent years.

Three journalists trail a man traveling to an undisclosed location to find his missing sister. Upon entering “Eden Parish” and meeting the community’s leader, it becomes apparent to the newcomers that this paradise may not be as it seems.

The film draws upon cult events like Jonestown and Waco to ground the story in reality. While not a fan of the self-shot style, I admit this one was beautifully executed. The cinematography is believable because the characters are professional journalists. The whole cast is excellent, but Gene Jones’s performance as the community leader was especially captivating. Some horror films tend to be slow or uneven in their delivery; The Sacrament is balanced and well paced.

The Sacrament is a thought-provoking and disturbing film, and I’d recommend fans of the horror and thriller genres to check it out. However, the religious themes might be offensive to some viewers.

Beyond the Black Rainbow

Beyond The Black Rainbow PosterI’ve seen some weird, esoteric art films in my life, but Beyond the Black Rainbow is on a whole different level. This film is a twisted journey through madness. Those of you brave enough to watch it will be rewarded by stunning visuals, mind-bending storytelling and an amazing score. The film was written and directed by Panos Cosmatos. Beyond the Black Rainbow was his directorial debut.

Viewers are reminded of the greats: Kubrick, Stone and Argento. The colors and set design invoke the sci-fi of the late 70s and early 80s. The optical narratives are bold and take leaps most “modern” directors would never fathom to attempt.

On the surface, it is a story of a trapped girl and her struggle to escape her life. Buried beneath this is a deep, thought-provoking film tackling issues ranging from death to self-hatred to patricide. Also, the director was trying to make a statement on our culture’s need to self-improve beyond reason, a desire to make ourselves perfect to extreme levels, and how that corrupts the powerful and victimizes the weak.

From the beginning to the end, Beyond the Black Rainbow is visually satisfying. It is a piece of cinematic art that I haven’t experienced in many years. While not suitable for everyone, abstract science fiction fans will enjoy this film.


            There are a lot of great movies on Netflix. Over the next few issues I’ll try to cover some of my favorites and at the same time review new content. Email me at your suggestions. In the meantime, watch more movies!

Twenty One Pilots wows

The Austin date of Twenty One Pilots’ Quiet Is Viølent tour was, hands down, the greatest concert experience that I have ever attended.

The show was held at the Stubbs Bar-B-Q outdoor stage in Austin. It was a sold-out show. We got to the venue at 6 p.m., and the line was already stretching over four and a half blocks.

The concert started about 45 minutes after the gates opened. The first band that played was an up-and-coming band called Vinyl Theatre.

Vinyl Theatre is rather new to the music scene, and most of the people in the audience hadn’t heard of them prior to the show. The band put on a really good set, and I bought their CD at the merchandise table after the show.

After Vinyl Theatre left the stage MisterWives started to perform their set. MisterWives are also an up-and-coming band and have only been a part of the music scene for a few years. MisterWives are a very energetic band got the crowd pumped up. Lead singer Mandy Lee said that Austin was the most energetic crowd and the most fun that she had playing on tour

After MisterWives then came Twenty One Pilots. When Josh Dun’s drums were revealed and Tyler Joseph’s piano was rolled onto the stage, the crowd went crazy.

Twenty One Pilots’ set began with Nigel (an electronic voice) welcoming the crowd and introducing himself and the band.

When the two-man band came out onto the stage, drummer Josh Dun was wearing a skeleton body suit and mask, and front man Tyler Joseph was wearing all black and a ski mask.

The performers sang the majority of the songs off of their album Vessel including Migraine, House Of Gold, Screen and Trees. It was amazing to see everyone around me bond through their love of Twenty One Pilots.

Even though it was over 80 degrees and everyone was pushed up against each other, making it feel even warmer, seeing the impact that Twenty One Pilots has on people gave me the chills.

During part of the show, Tyler instructed everyone in the audience to find a partner and get on their shoulders (which I did not do).

It was amazing to see how trusting everyone was, many people got on the shoulders of complete strangers without hesitation.
Tyler and Josh made a few wardrobe changes throughout the show. At one point Josh was drumming in an alien mask. During House Of Gold, a song Josh wrote for his mother, he put on a long, floral robe, telling the audience that his mom always tells him he wears too much black. So he picked out the robe to be more ‘festive’ during her song.

At one point during the show, Josh’s drums were brought out to the audience on a piece of plywood and he crowd-surfed while drumming. During another part of the show, Tyler came out into the audience.

Tyler interacted with Nigel, the computerized voice, throughout the entire show. During part of the show, Nigel requested that Twenty One Pilots play songs from “way back in the day.”

Upon his request,Twenty One Pilots began to cover songs such as Bugatti by Ace Hood, Beyonce’s Drunk In Love, Lana Del Rey’s Summertime Sadness, and Say Something by A Great Big World feat. Christina Aguilera.

After completing Nigel’s requests the duo went on to perform songs from their self-titled album such as Addict With a Pen and Fall Away.

Toward the end of the show, Tyler left the stage and Josh did a drum solo. After Josh’s drum solo, he told everyone to turn around.

When we turned around, we saw Tyler climbing his way to the top of a tall post near the sound system crew. (Tyler is infamous for worrying security, fans and his mother because of his climbing habit.)

Twenty One Pilots performed a few more songs and then said goodnight. Before anyone had a chance to leave, Nigel’s voice came over the speakers again.

Nigel informed us that if we were loud enough, Tyler and Josh would take the stage again.

So, of course, the crowd went insane. After a couple minutes of a complete cacophony of cheering, screaming and whistling,Twenty One Pilots took the stage again. Twenty One Pilots performed Car Radio, Truce and Trees and then Tyler recited a poem and said goodbye.

As soon as the show ended, I already wanted to see them again. I was entertained throughout the entirety of the show and most of the other people in the crowd were very polite and apologized if they bumped into you, which is a huge rarity in a general admissions show.

Twenty One Pilots definitely knows how to keep a crowd entertained.

John Wick a flashy affair

John Wick pic

Photo courtesy of

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.