Interlude:John Wick (a review)

Day 47. 64 pages, 30,172 words.

Off to see Endgame again tonight so maybe I will have some follow-up thoughts to add to that particular mass of comments. But I don’t know, maybe not.

In the meantime, we finally got around to watching the John Wick trilogy.

I’d heard a lot about how great these movies were and I’d wanted to watch them for ages, because Keanu is fun. I just never got the chance to see the first movie, and then the second movie was available on Netflix but I still wanted to see the first and the first wasn’t on Netflix, then the third movie came out and I began to worry that I was turning into that trendy guy who drags himself across ten miles of borken glass just to tell you he doesn’t watch Game of Thrones.

Anyway, long story short, I finally got booted into action by my lanttumies and watched the first movie on DVD (fun action movie with a tight revenge plot and intriguing hints of worldbuilding), then we watched the second movie on Netflix (classic sequel with ramped-up action, even more interesting worldbuilding and expansion, and erring just a little bit on the side of superhuman killing machine [not complaining!] rather than pushing the revenge plot), and then we watched the third movie at the cinema (brilliantly over-the-top action and world, the character motivations are well and truly gone but who cares at this point, it’s Keanu).

In fact, if you like a bit of long story short, that there was my review.

I don’t have much else to add, because what more can you say? I want the Bill and Ted franchise, the Matrix movies, and the John Wick trilogy to tie together into a nine-episode Keanu Star Wars (or Star Whoas), but that probably won’t happen. Oh well.

Mildly interesting note, Mrs. Hatboy’s blog talks about the US’s antebellum era a bit. It means “before the war”, usually referring to the US Civil War. So it was fun to figure out that the third chapter in this trilogy, Parabellum, refers to the preparation for war. Which is basically what we get. So whether this means we’re going to get a fourth John Wick movie (I kind of hope we don’t because it runs the risk of going too far), or whether it will in fact be Bill and Ted 3 (I hope it will but suspect I’m not that lucky), I suppose remains to be seen.

There was a lot of stuff I enjoyed here. The little (and sometimes not-so-little) nods to the Matrix franchise were only part of it. I hadn’t realised, although I should have, that a lot of the popularity of this movie seems to be with its realism, at least insofar as the guns and their usage is concerned. Real-life-accurate firefights, reloading, bullet calibres and so on, it was all here and it was fun to see my lanttumies bouncing in his seat in excitement. And I mean that in a non-condescending way. I can totally understand the enjoyment in seeing something you love, which has been consistently portrayed in a dumb and incorrect way, finally being shown some respect. I mean, isn’t that why we’re all so pleased about comic book movies these days?

And it helps that Keanu has managed to land himself ain a movie perfectly scripted and cast for him. His dry and often monosyllabic responses were basically all this movie trilogy needed in between explosive and highly entertaining fight scenes. I laughed more and more as the trilogy progressed, but it wasn’t at the expense of the movies’ story – it was just a reflection of the delightful overblownity of the whole thing.

The Continentale, and the High Table universe that we see unfolding here, was strongly reminiscent of Gaiman’s Neverwhere, and for that alone I loved it. It was also fortunate that Ian McShane was a leading character throughout, which allowed me to pretend he was Odin and thus connect Gaiman’s American Gods to this as well. Especially since he had Charon working at his hotel lobby. Anyway, not really necessary – but it added to my enjoyment.

I will of course take the word of the ammosexuals about the whole gun thing, it all seemed great to me. What I enjoyed about the fight scenes (apart from the outrageous Hong Kong B-movie jitterbugging the hand-to-hand fighters all did, which was hilarious) was the sheer number of nutshots that were involved. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched a fight scene in a movie and wondered just how much more quickly and easily we could have gotten away from another boring round of kicky-punchy if the protagonist had just kicked the antagonist in the sack. I mean it’s at least five times I’ve wondered.

Okay, this happens a lot in this trilogy and protagonist and antagonist alike still seem to shake it off pretty easily, but at least they go there, damn it.

The violence increases almost exponentially as the trilogy progresses. Maybe don’t go see Parabellum if you’re squeamish about head-stabbings and blood fountains. It’s not exactly Kill Bill, but … well in a way it’s “worse” because it’s not so overblown. Well alright, yes, it’s overblown but … enh, I don’t know. You’re probably a grown-up so make up your own mind.

I had lots of fun. Not really to my specific tastes but I do enjoy a good revenge arc and a good killing-machine antihero. And the way the rest of the characters interacted with him and talked about him was just spot-on. For what it was, the John Wick trilogy had surprisingly good writing.

Good stuff. I give it an unexpectedly hard punch, a loud grunt, an involuntary backwards somersault and faceplant, a staggering recovery, an energy-regathering pose and a super-fast whip whip whip hand beckoning gesture to signify “renew your attack if you dare” out of a possible kung fu battle.

About Hatboy

I’m not often driven to introspection or reflection, but the question does come up sometimes. The big question. So big, there’s just no containing it within the puny boundaries of a single set of punctuationary bookends. Who are these mysterious and unsung heroes of obscurity and shadow? What is their origin story? Do they have a prequel trilogy? What are their secret identities? What are their public identities, for that matter? What are their powers? Their abilities? Their haunted pasts and troubled futures? Their modus operandi? Where do they live anyway, and when? What do they do for a living? Do they really have these fantastical adventures, or is it a dazzlingly intellectual and overwrought metaphor? Or is it perhaps a smug and post-modern sort of metaphor? Is it a plain stupid metaphor, hedged around with thick wads of plausible deniability, a soap bubble of illusory plot dependent upon readers who don’t dare question it for fear of looking foolish? A flight of fancy, having dozed off in front of the television during an episode of something suitably spaceship-oriented? Do they have a quest, a handler, a mission statement, a department-level development objective in five stages? I am Hatboy.
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15 Responses to Interlude:John Wick (a review)

  1. brknwntr says:

    Not saying you are wrong about the title usage, just suspect that you were unaware that this is a thing.

    • stchucky says:

      Oh yes, when I googled the word I had to specify “etymology” because otherwise I got the gun, was going to mention that because it was amusing. And certainly intentional.

      However, the “preparation for war” usage was the primary one in the movie.

      • brknwntr says:

        Nice. I didn’t know that it was the name of the caliber because it was the slogan of the unit which initially adopted it.

      • stchucky says:

        It’s a very appropriate slogan for a gun. The Romans would definitely have approved.

      • brknwntr says:

        OK, I let it go the first time. But I’m gonna correct you this time. It’s the name of the caliber 9×19 not the name of a gun. 9×19 is the caliber of almost all modern handguns. 9mm Luger, 9×19, and 9mm Parabellum and 9mm all mean the same thing.

      • stchucky says:

        That’s nice. I was thrown because I was thinking of “unit” as in “gun” (because products come in units and I was writing manuals all morning), not “group of military guys”. So … cool?

      • stchucky says:

        I mean I’m feeling pretty permissive about letting the ammosexuals have nice things for once, you absolutely deserve it, don’t ruin it.

      • stchucky says:

        Also also, it’s a bunch of stuff so don’t come at me now.

      • stchucky says:

        (and no, not actually trying to correct you[1], I was just confused by the Wikipedia entry, seems to talk about a couple of guns that have that nickname and a couple of different calibres as well. Either way, I don’t think it was mentioned in any context aside from the Latin saying in the movie although again, it’s a very appropriate layered meaning and if you spot the gun / calibre itself on your viewing, please mention it.)

        [1] Is there an SJW-on-ammosexual version of mansplaining? Gunsplaining? Civsplaining? Libsplaining? Work in progress.

  2. brknwntr says:

    Am in fact hoping the usage is accurate and not simply a nod. As that would be totally in character for the series.

  3. dreameling says:

    I had a lot of fun, too. This is by far one the best action movie franchises of recent years, or really ever. I love the trademark no-nonsense, semi-realistic, hard-hitting, but nonetheless beautifully stylized gun-and-melee action.

    Like you, I’m a little worried about the chapter 4. By the end of this one, John Wick is basically a superhero (in terms of maximum hit points, damage resistance, and attack bonuses). It’s really hard to talk about “realism” anymore.

    Also, as my second and last gripe, the action started to look and feel too staged and too choreographed toward the end. The endless martial arts that capped off the movie was almost too much, and did not play to the franchise’s strengths (= guns and grounded melee). Why bring in the guys from _The Raid 2_ to basically just show off?

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