John Wick is the sleeper hit of 2014 for a reason

John Wick Posters at AllPosters.comStory 

After the death of his wife and murder of his dog, retired assassin John Wick comes out of hiding to find the men who took everything from him and get his revenge.

The story is so simple it can be boiled down into 2 words. Revenge flick. That's what John Wick is at its core. And because of that simplicity, you have a movie with interesting characters as well as different avenues that the writers could take to tell the story.

Acting 

The acting in this film is very nuanced. At no point did I watch this film and say "So and so is overacting." That is to say that the actors in this film did their jobs VERY well, especially Keanu Reeves.

In my Matrix review, (which you can read here, shameless plug I know) I mentioned that Neo had no personality and that Keanu was perfect for that part and I'm going to say the opposite about  John Wick. He's one of those characters that doesn't say much but manages to say everything at the same time and Reeves' performance is effortless. While there are a lot of actors who could have delivered a good performance in this role, I don't know if they would have been this good. It could have something to do with the fact that much like John, Keanu is returning to action movies time away but whatever it is, it worked.

This movie also stars Alfie Allen, Michael Nyqvist, Dean Winters, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo and Willem Dafoe. This is one of those movies where the more you watch, the more recognisable faces you see and they are are brilliant, much like Keanu, the actors in this movie have brilliantly muted performances which allow the writing and direction in this movie to shine.

Writing/Direction 

The writing and direction in this movie are *chefs kiss*. Chad Stahelski and David Leitch did a fantastic job and for a directorial debut? Trophies!! As mentioned earlier the simple nature of the story and muted performance of the actors allows the other elements to shine. The characters are well written as they act and react like real people which allow you to latch on to them are care about their motives, John especially. I mean they took everything from him! His response is warranted. Funny how a hitman is the protagonist of the story. And that is one of the things I love about movies like this, the characters live in a moral grey zone and because of that their actions don't always align with your personal moral compass but you can understand why they do what they do.

I said it before and I will say it again, the direction is *chef's kiss*. At no point, while I was watching did I feel bored or disengaged. Every scene is interesting and feels like it is building up to something.
The cinematography is stunning. Jonathan Sela did a brilliant job of bringing the neo-noir thriller to life. The contrast and use of colour makes the film visually interesting. scenes are set up and shot beautifully and the whole film has a sleek look to it that I love.

I mean look at this!
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And this

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And THIS!!

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The film has a single shot format and while writing this review I found out that it was a choice made by the filmmakers out of necessity but due to the single-shot nature, there are a few long takes which make the film more immersive. Another interesting thing to note is how steady the movie is. While shaky-cam has a time and place in a movie like this, it wouldn’t make any sense. Having a steady camera allows you to see what is going on which works because there is so much to see.

One of my favourite scenes is an example of what I stated earlier about the use of colour and how that represents different aspects and characters. it also shows how well the movie is set up and shot. Also, it's a REALLY good scene. I watched it 3 times while I wrote this review.



I also cannot talk about directing without talking about the FANTASTIC stunt work in this movie. Now it has to be said that both David Leitch and Chad Stahelski worked as stuntmen and stunt coordinators, meaning that they are VERY experienced in stunts. If the stunts in this movie weren’t  amazing there would be a problem seeing as they have many years of experience. The choreography is not only amazing to look at but it looks realistic. sometimes you watch an action movie and everything about it reads over the top, this is not one of those movies.

CGI/Set Design

This also one of those movies that uses VFX but does not rely on them. You honestly wouldn't know if you were not told. The directors and VFX supervisor did a great job of blending practical and visual effects.

Something else to note is the set design, which lends itself to the cinematography. there are two distinct looks. John's life outside his work which is a lot more sterile and lifeless and his life while e works that has a lot more in it physically and metaphorically.

Another thing worth commending on is the costume design. If Luca Mosca could send me all of the suit's John wears throughout the movie I would be very very grateful. The costume design is another visual aid that shows the difference in John's life. Before he goes back to his old life, he dresses like an everyman, jeans, t-shirts and leather jackets but once he goes back to his old life, he's incredibly dapper in 3 -piece suits. It's little (not really little) details like this that make the movie more enjoyable for the viewer.

Score/Soundtrack

Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard did a great job composing the score. The emotional moments in the movie are made even more haunting with the use of violins and the effect is mesmerising. The score also had different musical elements like hip-hop. The scene is very reminiscent of a lot of spy thriller and I am of the philosophy that if it ain't broke don't fix it.

Overall Thoughts

If it isn't obvious I loved this movie. The writing, direction, cinematography, pacing and stunt work all make for an enjoyable action movie that you would enjoy even if you aren't a fan of the genre.  The beauty of movies like this is the easy nature of the film, it doesn't require a lot of attention like a thriller would so you can enjoy watching John Wick kill a load of people (serious it has to be over 50) without having to piece together a plot. It's one of those movies that you can you watch over and over without getting tired of it. (Trust me on this). If you haven't watched it you NEED to.

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