By: Cal Parsons
Since the John Wick movies haven’t been talked about at all on this blog, I feel that it’s my duty to persuade everyone who reads this to watch the John Wick movies. Over spring break I watched three movies in one day at the theater: Get Out, John Wick: Chapter 2, and Logan. I loved all of them, but I’m here to tell you to go watch John Wick.
The John Wick movies have redefined actions movies today the same way the Jason Bourne trilogy redefined action movies in the 2000s. In my opinion, however, the John Wick movies do a better job of it. Gone are the days of awful shaky cam with close-up shots of hands flailing that hurts the eyes of every viewer, and in comes the days of longer and wider shots of choreographed action that continues to up the ante in these gritty, bloody action scenes.
John Wick, a film about a retired hitman who returns to the world of killing to get revenge on the son of the Russian Mob boss who wronged him, came as a surprise to most who decided to go see the film in theaters in 2014, earning an 85% on Rotten Tomatoes and a pretty low box office, for a film so well-reviewed. But word of mouth quickly spread, and the sales of the film on Blu-Ray and streaming popularized the film quickly and is highly regarded as a great film that brings a fresh new take on the action genre with bloody, gritty action and stunning cinematography, which is another huge thing John Wick did for action films.
This is just one of the many stunning shots in John Wick during an action sequence at a dance club. The use of more noticeable color in the film is extremely satisfying to watch on the screen and is a great refresher from all of the muted, gritty tones used in most modern action films. And, to be honest, this is nothing compared to the cinematography in John Wick: Chapter 2. The colors and shots in John Wick: Chapter 2 are so detailed and colorful that you’ll wish that more action movies featured vibrant colors.
Another reason John Wick works so well is the stunt work and fight choreography, all with the help of the extremely dedicated Keanu Reeves. Reeves dedicated a full four months to train extensively on multiple fighting techniques, martial arts, and gun training to become as close of an assassin as he can, being age 50 at that. For Chapter 2 he goes through even more training, shown in this video.
The co-director of the first and solo director on the second, Chad Stahelski, is a former stuntman-turned-director that respects the art of stunts. Stahelski uses wider frames and smoother camera movements to put Keanu’s incredible stuntwork on display, using the R-rating to his full advantage, bringing audiences some of the most brutal and gritty hand-to-hand combat ever put to film. These films also feature some of the best subtle world-building I’ve ever seen.
If you like action films and are tired of seeing the same close-up, messy shaky cam in every action scene, then the John Wick films are perfect for you. If you’re not a fan of blood/minor gore in action films, then I would stay away.
If you need any more persuasion, here’s a video that sums up why John Wick needs to be seen. Spoilers.