Box Office Report: “John Wick”

My thought process walking out (or escaping) the theater was to label “John Wick” as either bad or really bad depending on how pissed off traffic made me on the ride home. And I will say that I hit more red lights than I intended to. 

The film concerns a retired hit man played by Keanu Reeves, who breaks out of his quiet life to, essentially, avenge the death of a puppy. First time directors David Leitch and Chad Stahelski, who have both racked up impressive repertoires of stunt work in their Hollywood careers thus far, clearly did not set out to create a film that encourages an audience to think in any way, shape or form. 

What they sought to create was a film that aroused the senses and appealed to the masses. Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with this, because we go to movies to be entertained, not to learn. 

But, even if “John Wick” was intended to showcase choreography and special effects, it still should not have undermined what I consider by far to be the most important element in film: characters. 

The characters in the film were not only weakly drawn, but lacking in motivation. Why, for example, would three men break into Wick’s home, beat him to a pulp and kill his dog because he told them his car wasn’t for sale? Certainly, there are many tyrannical characters in cinematic history that would be capable of doing such a thing, but in the film we aren’t introduced to such characters. 

In fact, we aren’t introduced to anything at all. 

The exposition in this film is some of the driest contextually that I have ever seen, which is why none of the characters were relatable as the film went on. Nothing about Wick’s life is actually explained in the slightest. All I really knew was that he was some dude who kills people for a living, and I gained all that knowledge from the trailer.

In a film that did nothing but hand feed the audience from start to finish, it certainly failed to feed us anything about the actual characters on screen. 

Ultimately, it wasn’t just the lack of character development that left me unsatisfied, but also the hype that painted this film as something actually worth seeing. 

Please, no matter what anyone tells you, don’t be confused; there is nothing about Keanu Reeves’ performance that redeems his career or sheds light on previously unforeseen talent.

The man gives us what he gave us in “The Matrix”: a cold, collected bad ass — except this time with a slightly higher aptitude for killing. It was this lack of development of Wick as a character and his unnaturally somber demeanor that made me not really care at all whether he saved the day or died at the hand of some indiscriminate henchmen. 

The film in itself was NOT good. In no way is this film anything more that your typical action-packed adventure. Critically, there are almost no bright spots to the film whatsoever. 

I will heavily warn that Wick isn’t going to satisfy in the same way that the Jason Bourne franchise did (a franchise that John Wick has been getting some early comparisons to). The difference between a film like “The Bourne Ultimatum” and “John Wick” is that in Bourne, we see a protagonist that intricately develops and shows change as the film goes on. 

On the other hand, we have a film like “John Wick,” where our lead simply wants to get revenge on those who wronged him for no other reason than the personal satisfaction of seeing them die. If you’re into that kind of thing, all the power to you, go see the film. But if you’re like me and you want to see an action film where the hero does a heavy amount of retrospection, then in Wick, you won’t find what you’re looking for. By all means, “John Wick” is a FAIL.

My Rating: 5/10

Current IMDb Rating: 8.2/10

Jack is a sophomore in Media. He can be reached at [email protected].