Back in November, when John Wick was in the theaters, our very own Alex Wolfe gave the film a glowing review. Then, just last week, I listed it as one of the Top Ten Crime Thrillers of 2014. Now, the DVD/Blu-ray release of the film is imminent and I’m here to once again tell you to go watch this freaking movie. Buy it and watch it. It’s that simple. The last time I was as impressed with an action film was Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning — which if you still haven’t seen, you need to fix that as soon as possible. Writer/Director John Hyams committed fully to making the action in that film as brutal and realistic as possible, loading the cast with MMA fighters and focusing on bloody hand-to-hand beatdowns. Directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch hit all of those points in John Wick but then take it up a notch by also incorporating Judo, Gun-Fu, and even Car-Fu before everything is said and done. Stylistically, John Wick is a hyper-real dive into the deep end of world of assassins and criminal empires. The action is slickly edited and magnificently choreographed — which should come as no surprise given the directors are the top fight choreographers in Hollywood. The cast is filled to brimming with brilliant cameos, including Willem Dafoe as John’s best friend Marcus, Adrianne Palicki as a rival assassin with eyes on the John Wick prize, John Leguizamo as a chop-shop owner who knows what’s what, Lance Reddick as the Hotel Manager where all the assassins in NY hang out while in town, Alfie Allen as the sorry dipshit who sets everything in motion because he has no impulse control, Michael Nyqvist as his father, who immediately has to decide whether or not to simply give his son up to his fate or fight it, and my favorite, Ian McShane as the man in charge, the man who maintains the rules, the man who balances the scales. Even Kevin Nash and The Wire‘s Clarke Peters make brief but memorable appearances. And oh yeah. Keanu Reeves is John Wick. Once the deadliest assassin of them all, Wick has retired to live a quiet life until his wife dies, leaving him alone with his grief, the puppy she left him, and his muscle car. Until Alfie Allen breaks into his home, beats John senseless, kills his puppy, and steals his muscle car. And with that, admittedly sappy set-up, John Wick is off to the races in what is a virtually non-stop exercise in pure cinematic mayhem. By keeping the script simple and fairly linear, John Wick is able to really concentrate on the action, which serves to keep the film moving forward smoothly and quickly with a laser-like persistence. There are no side stories that don’t immediately work their way back into the main narrative, and every twist has a solid payoff. I’m something of a self-made expert on assassins on film, and one of the things I loved most about this film is that it takes the most common topos of the genre and twists it around. Usually in these films, the assassin finds themselves on the outs with their employers after being given a job that they found to be too much for their moral code. John Wick is not that assassin. In order to get out of the business he did the impossible and essentially laid the groundwork for the criminal empire of Michael Nyqvist’s Viggo. With that done, Viggo held up his part of the bargain and John was a free man. Instead of the boss taking out a contract on the hitman for not completing the job, or betraying him/her for whatever reason, in John Wick, it’s purely a revenge tale back the other way, set against the backdrop of the romanticized world of high-class assassins (Classassins?). And this character, once called the Boogeyman by others in the trade, is unstoppable once he sets his mind to his mission. In the world of Assassins on Film, this is a fresh take and I was won over almost from the get-go. And I loved the way the occasional uses of subtitles were worked into the scenes. They’re clever and over-stylized, but that’s what this movie is all about. When the directors talk about going for a graphic novel feel (in the featurettes) you can really see what they mean. John Wick is one of the best comic book movies not based on a comic book that you’re going to find. Special Features Audio Commentary by Filmmakers Chad Stahelski and David Leitch: This is a pretty entertaining and informative commentary that not only gives you a look behind the scenes but also provides a fair amount of inspiration for new filmmakers. Don’t F*#% With John Wick (15:17): If you didn’t know what to think about Keanu Reeves as an actor or as a person, this featurette will probably make you like him a lot. The man is fifty years old and absolute devoted to learning the stunt training and getting in there to make the action as real as possible. Calling in the Cavalry (11:58): A more general behind-the scenes that looks at the initial pitch for the project, how Reeves, Stahelski, and Leitch all got involved with the project, plus a look at the making of various action sequences. Destiny of a Collective (6:19): This one takes a look at the partnership between Chad Stahelski and David Leitch as they direct their first film. But they’re not coming into this with no experience; they’re in charge of one of the best stunt teams in the business and have been doing 2nd unit directing for a while now. The Assassin’s Code (5:18): A look inside the hyperstylized world of the assassins in John Wick. Very cool, but a little more flash than substance. I do enjoy the filmmakers’ insistence that they were going for a graphic novel style approach to creating this world, despite the work not being based on a comic already. The Red Circle (6:26): This featurette takes us inside the nightclub battle set-piece. It’s cool, but not really necessary. N.Y.C. Noir (6:00): A very interesting and informative look at the way New York is turned into a character in the film, with a blending of old and new architecture, and stylistic elements that emphasize both the graphic novel approach and classic noir. Theatrical Trailer: See larger image John Wick [Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD] New From: $6.34 USD In Stock John Wick (2014) Blu-ray ReviewPaul's Rating4.5Overall ScoreReader Rating: (2 Votes)Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related One Response George February 5, 2015 “Classassins” – ha, oh dear. 🙂 Brilliant film, very refreshing take. And you’re right: Keanu Reeves comes over very well, sincere and dedicated. Seemingly John Wick 2 is already on the cards. I want to see more, but only if it’s done right. If the same directing team and Reeves are on board though, I have high hopes. Log in to Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.