John Wick (2014): An Amazing Action Flick That Shows Just How Great Keanu Reeves Can Be

john-wick

     “John Wick” is one of the best action movies I have ever watched. This is a movie that has an intriguing world, fascinating characters, amazing action and a narrative that flows. If you like action films. These are my brief spoiler free thoughts before I get into the main narrative and the details of the film, but truly, this film is worth your time.

    The film was directed by Chad Stahelski, written by Derek Kolstad and produced by Basil Iwanyk, David Leitch, Eva Longoria, Michael Witherill and James McTeigue.

    The story involves retired assassin John Wick (Keanu Reeves) being pulled back into the world of assassins after the son Losef (Alfie Allen) of the Russian Crime Syndicate steals his car and kills his dog leading him to go on a killing spree against the Syndicate as he finds himself pulled into the world he left.

The Pros: The idea – The idea of an assassin pulled out of retirement to go against people he used to work for is intriguing. It gives the personal touch and motivation that can easily be lost in a studio made version of this.

The World – The world is amazing! You’ve got an assassin run neutral zone that is a hotel, through which all the different organizations have a way to interact without murder…and Wick is the best of this group as of what we learn from this film.

The Soundtrack – The music is by Tyler Bates and Joel Richard and it is good at getting under your skin. You feel Wick’s conflict as well as how amazing some themes are as they are good at showing the dulled senses of a club combined with the hyper focus of an assassin on a particularity memorable sequence.

The Cinematography – The cinematography is dark but uses colors to illustrate mood and tension. Red is used a lot in the club scene and we see light used when he is with his wife and has peace living with his dog. It is truly wonderful.

The Characters – The characters are one of the strongest parts of this world and the fact that they chose great actors shows as much.

Aurelio – John Leguizamo plays the car repairmen for the different gangs and is friends with John Wick. He’s a great character as he is the first to show Losef he is in over his head and that he barked up the wrong tree and even confronts Viggo without breaking a sweat. It is a minor but fantastic role. Also I’ve always been a fan of Leguizamo.

Viggo – Viggo is in charge of the Russian Crime Syndicate and is a great overall villain as we see his respect for Wick but also his ego come into play. Wick lets him go free once and he lets it all go because he wants revenge for his bastard of a son. His death means something because of it because he tries to live honorably but gives it up for personal revenge.

 Winston – Ian McShane plays the owner of “The Hotel” and is a fascinating character as he gives protections to those who live in death and promotes it as a neutral zone. When it all goes to hell he honors that too and lets Wick know Viggo’s location and kills Ms. Perkins for killing the staff and targeting Vick. I want to learn more about this place.

Marcus – Willem Dafoe is Wick’s friend and protector in this as he joins Viggo to protect Wick and he saves Wick multiple times. IT is a great relationship and I wish we’d gotten more history as Marcus like Wick is an assassin capable of empathy.

John Wick – This is the best Keanu Reeves performance I have seen since “The Matrix” and I love that we get to see him emote and have anger, passion and the everything else this underrated star is capable of. The movie would be worth it just for Reeves. His arc involves losing everything but finding peace after revenge, which you rarely find in movies of this type where the broken person is the theme. Wick healed and we get his prime motivation in the end is justice.

The Ending – John Wick is at a Vet and rescues a dog and uses some of the medicine to heal his wounds fighting the Russian Crime Syndicate. He picks a Pit Bull and we see that even if that world of killers pulled him back in, he will always be outside of it. The dog that his wife gave him was his peace and it is once again at the end.

The Cons: Ms. Perkins – She wants to kill for money and knows John Wick? I didn’t know if they wanted to go ex-relationship route but she is a character is purely a plot device. We don’t learn about her relationship to Wick or much else, which is a shame and makes her a con.

Losef – Losef is a 2-D villain, he never grows up, shows complexity or regret…and just brings the film down. Alfie Allen is good but his character is awful. He deserved to have someone more than a plot device to up the anti for Viggo against Wick.

    The only things that really keep this film from being perfect are Losef being a nothing character who is just a coward and bully and Ms. Perkins having no motivation for wanting to take out Wick beyond money. This brings down what could have enriched the story further as she is the secondary main villain and we never learn why. Besides these two characters this film has tight writing and was beautifully filmed with some of the best action sequences I’ve seen in any film. This film is a beautiful work of art that is well worth checking out. Suffice to say, I can’t wait to watch “John Wick: Chapter Two.”

Final Score: 9.5 / 10

The 12th Doctor – Series 8, Episode 8 – “Mummy on the Orient Express” – The Doctor’s Motivation

Mummy on the Orient Express

This is one of the better episodes exploring if the Doctor is a good man. What are his motivations? What drives him to make his decisions? This episode really captures the alien parts of that and pushes us closer to Clara’s leaving. It also provides a good mystery that keeps with the soldier theme of this series.

“Mummy on the Orient Express” was written by Jamie Mathieson, directed by Paul Wilmshurst and produced by Peter Bennett.

The premise is the Doctor is taking Clara on a last adventure for her to say good-bye, which also gives him a chance to explore why the mysterious “Gus” has kept offering him free tickets as far back as “The Big Bang” on the Orient Express. We soon learn that they are test subjects as the mummy kills them in a pattern. From here the story unfolds as Clara considers whether this should be good bye for good and the Doctor’s reasons for the things he does are revealed.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: The Orient Express – I really like the setting in the episode, it is classy and at the same time a prison. We see this when Gus drops all illusions on the train to have them appear in a lab and begins killing customers because they aren’t figuring out how to stop the Mummy, who kills people once they see it, in 66 seconds. For this reason there is constant tension throughout the episode as the Doctor and other doctors work to figure out how to stop it.

Captain Quell – He is the first soldier we meet on the train (this is a theme of the season and the episode) and we see that experiences PTSD when he was the only survivor of an attack. This leads to his lack of action until 3 crewmembers die. He goes down fighting and alive though, when the Mummy targets him for his PTSD and he dies whole. David Bamber was good in this role, as it takes a lot for him to come around to the Doctor. The Doctor has to earn his trust.

Perkins – Is the engineer who it hints at, may no more than he leads on. He targets the Doctor when the Doctor dismisses the deaths of the captain, the mythologist and others as he’s told they don’t have time to morn, they need action to find out how to stop the Mummy so their death’s weren’t in vain. Perkins eventually gets this and is on the TARDIS at the end and realizes the nature of the TARDIS forces a person to change, which leads to the Doctor mentioning how it has changed him, many times. He was a good minor character and Frank Skinner did a good job.

Professor Moorhouse – This is the character who is all about data, which the Doctor uses to his advantage to learn about the myths surrounding the Mummy, and to get information from him when the Mummy is about to end his life. He is serious about his work and is up until the end, though he does start trying to make deals and reason with the Mummy as others tried to do in the myths, which doesn’t save him. Christopher VIlliers was good for playing this gentleman.

Clara – A major part of this episode is exploring Clara’s relationship with the Doctor. They hinted at her  not being in this episode, which I wouldn’t have minded…but her being there did advance her arc with the Doctor. In this one she is his soldier lying to Maisie to get her to the room with all the equipment. The Doctor does save her when he tries an experiment and we are shown the Doctor is like Maisie’s grandmother…sometimes well intentioned, but cold and cruel. She calls him out on doing that, but he mentions that it was the only way to try to save her and she calls him a good man at the core…until the Doctor foreboding brings up the other part. He was as detached when he risked his life for Maisie as he was when Moorhouse and the Captain were killed. This is going to play a part later though Clara embraces the adventure now, knowing the Doctor will always try to do the right thing even if it isn’t coming from the right reasons.

The Mummy – Is a soldier from a future war. The reason it isn’t seen is because of cloaking technology, and it targeted them one by one to destroy the weak first so there wouldn’t be distractions and so it could take their energy. It had no choice to stop fighting until the Doctor surrenders. It was a really cool concept, and like Captain Quell’s PTSD showed another dimension to war. It dies saluting the Doctor and it’s core is used to beam everyone into the TARDIS before Gus destroys the train.

The Doctor – This episode is Capaldi in his element. We truly see the Doctor more fully and can better understand his motivations. He does the right thing or tries too, but it’s with detachment and he isn’t attached to caring about people beyond the present moment. We also see his investigative side in action as he solves the mystery of the Mummy and risks his life to find out the truth. He’s calculating, but also willing to take a chance on a whim if it will help someone and help him solve the case. He tries to find out who Gus is too but Gus destroys the train, which also put folks at risk when he did that from inside the train. The Doctor and Clara decide to take the next adventure together but the Doctor is questioning now since Clara was ready to say good bye and her change of heart has him confused since he knows he’s still the same person who made and makes her angry. For this reason, we are that much closer to Clara leaving, even if she isn’t aware of it.

The Cons: Maisie – Couldn’t get into her character. She was mostly there to draw illusions to the Doctor and Clara’s relationship through the relationship she lost and to give us a new perspective on the Doctor. She was a plot device.

This was a great episode and another one of my favorites this season. It was better than “Deep Breath” and a lot of fun. My only issue would be how much we don’t know about Gus and if he is connected to the Missy arc or not. I’m also waiting for an enemy that is generally bad and evil and isn’t a Dalek. Most enemies this season have just been misunderstood slaves or soldiers….or really cheezy villains like in “Robot of Sherwood.” I definitly recommend this episode and think that when Clara leaves, we’re going to feel it.

Final Score: 9.5 / 10