Sep 282015
 
Title: John Wick
Genre: Action
Starring: Keanu Reeves,
Michael Nyqvist,
Alfie Allen,
Willem Dafoe
Certificate: US: R
UK: 15
Picture: 1080p
2.40:1
Audio Format: Dolby Atmos 5.1
Subtitles: English
Runtime: 1 Hours 41 mins
Extras: Featurettes,
Deleted Scenes,
Interviews,
Making Of,
Photo Gallery
Studio: Warner Home Video
Release Date: USA: Feb 03 2015
UK: Sep 21 2015
See If You Like: Taken,
Safe,
Yeah, I’m thinking he’s back…

 

Remember the film you wanted Taken 3 to be? The film you wanted The Expendables 3 to be? The film you wanted The Gunman to be? Well after being let down by so many action films this year, we’ve finally got one which delivers; the cool, slick, simplistic but sublime John Wick.

Keanu Reeves (The Matrix) stars as ex-assassin for hire John Wick; a man so proficent his employers referred to him as The Bogeyman (not because he was as bad as the Bogeyman but because he was the guy you’d call to kill the Bogeyman); a man who comes out of retirement when the son of a mob boss decides to steal his car, and murder his dog (a last gift from his dying wife) causing John to dive back into his old life, and headfirst into a glorious 1-hour-40-minute-long, revenge-fuelled killing spree.

It’s simple, it’s effective, and it’s basically everything you need from a modern day low-ish budget ($20 million) action movie; a recognisable star slotting into a role which is prefect for him (not only because Wick is a man of little words or emotion, but because it’s essentially mirroring Keanu’s own explosive return to the Box Office), an easy to understand plot, the odd chuckle, and some expertly choreographed action sequences which gives any action fan everything they crave; an R-rating and some sick kills.

In this regard John Wick doesn’t falter at all; we get the gore, we get to see Keanu dispatching countless henchmen in a number of cool ways, and we thankfully get to linger on a number of the best kills. Though sadly, with the lack of any stand-out set-pieces (aside from a final fight on the docks) the majority of the action takes place in clubs (or houses/hotels which look like modern clubs), and as it always involves Keanu/Wick using a gun to dispense with faceless nobodies, it does get a little repetitive by the end.

 

 

Still, it’s well shot, well choreographed, and Wick is fantastic part for Keanu; he exudes cool, and is perfectly set up as a believable badass throughout (even even does a solid turn in the more emotional scenes during the beginning of the movie). It is a shame however that the supporting stars don’t really get a chance to shine; as the mob boss’ son Alfie Allen plays a whiney little bitch much like his character Theon from Game Of Thrones, and does little except run away and throw tantrums; Michael Nyqvist (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) is acceptable enough, though like many of the supports his character is nothing but the personification of the Eastern European mob boss stereotype; and while it’s always good to see Willem Dafoe (Out Of The Furnace) it feels as if there was a large amount of squandered potential for both him, and his character.

John Wick, Keanu Reeves 01

Dean Winters (Oz), Adrianne Palicki (G.I. Joe: Retaliaion), Ian McShane (Hercules), John Leguizamo (Romeo + Juliet), and The Wire co-stars Lance Reddick and Clarke Peters close out the list of recognisable faces, and while some obviously have much more input than others, there’s also a feeling you’d have enjoyed seeing more from many of the people who complete John‘s world – just as you would the exceptionally cool criminal hotel in which John spends a portion of the movie.

There’s no depth to John Wick, an abundance of dire dialogue, and the entire thing is one gigantic cliché but Wick, like its titular character, is a movie which hits everything it aims for with ease; the action is awesome, Keanu’s back on top form, and the whole thing is a near perfect action movie; slick, cool, super-fun, John Wick is Wicked.

Highly recommended, John Wick is an action film guaranteed to please any true action fan. A potential franchise builder which leaves you craving for a sequel, as it not only hits all the necessary notes but has created an engaging and easily expandable world ready for the next instalment in the series.

Picture:

With much of the movie appearing through various colour filters, or having clearly ‘enhanced’ lighting to provide a set, one-colour, look for various locales, it should come as a pleasant surprise to note John Wick‘s colour representation and contrast is excellent. While the various colour changes may hamper detail here and there, their influence is largely negligible, and overall detail, sharpness, and clarity remain extremely strong. Black levels are solid, textures are well represented, and as there are next to no compression issues or pesky artifacts, John Wick is a solid video presentation on Blu-ray.

Audio:

Likewise the Dolby Atmos (which will play as a Dolby TrueHD core track through amplifiers which aren’t capable of reproducing an Atmos signal – as mine is not) audio track is suitably punchy and vibrant; bombarding any listener with weighty bass, non-stop gunfire, smooth pans and effortless transitions which only enhance the film, and serve to provide a full 360 soundfield. Surround channels are consistently active (be they blasting gunshots, or booming the soundtrack), dialogue is consistently clean, crisp, and ineligible, there’s an exceptional dynamic range on display, and all-in-all there’s very little to gripe about with this excellent audio presentation.

Extras:

As well as an Ultraviolet Digital HD copy of the film (the demand for which varies greatly, and never tends to add points to any review), John Wick comes to Blu-ray with an audio commentary by directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch (which proves to be both fun and informative throughout despite, as the pair point out, it being their first), and a number of short featurettes exploring various aspects of production.

Aside from the 15 minute Don’t F*#% With John Wick feature (an interesting look at the stunt choreography, Keanu’s involvement/dedication to stunt work and performing as many of the stunts he could, with interviews from stunt guys, producers, stars and directors), the featurettes stay around the 5-7 minute mark, and cover various aspects of the movie; including Chad and Dave’s journey from stunt men to choreographers and eventually directors; Keanu pitching the film the Chad and Dave; creating the heightened, graphic-novel style, world in which the assassins of John Wick operate; the decision and logistics behind filming in New York City; and crafting the infamous nightclub fight scene; all providing an interesting (albeit brief) look at different parts of the film, with behind the scenes footage, interviews, and storyboards, showcasing exactly how John Wick came together.

The featurettes themselves do feel a little promotional in nature, and come across a little praise heavy, though it does appear as though everyone involved had a fun time working on the film, and as each segment provides new information (there’s very little repetition across any of the clips), and they’re all interesting in their own way, there’s plenty for John Wick fans to enjoy and explore here.

 

John Wick 04

The Bottom Line:

John Wick is a fantastic action film. There’s no plot, at least not one worth caring about (John’s miffed, so everyone must die), but the action is fantastic throughout, the cast is great; not only is Keanu back on top form, but the supporting stars are excellent as well; and as it’s a well shot, easy to watch, thrill ride which has been brought to Blu-ray with excellent picture and sound quality, as well as a solid selection of bonus materials, it’s a great buy for any action fan. Super-slick, and super-cool, it’s Keanu’s best film in years, and hopefully the beginning of not only a rousing comeback, but an impressive franchise.

Matt Wheeldon@TheMattWheeldon.

Film:
Ratings 08 Buy from Amazon.co.uk Buy from Amazon.com
Video:
Ratings 08
Audio:
Ratings 09
Extras:
Ratings 08
Overall:
Ratings 08