JOHN WICK REVIEW

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Woah! If you’re looking for a half decent action flick, I’d pick Wick.

An ex-hitman (Keanu Reeves) comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that took everything from him.

Reeves’ deadpan delivery and ultra-serious demeanour have finally found its home.

This is probably the best I’ve seen him act in some time. His whispery voice, stone faced pallor and wooden delivery suited the mystery action man.

What I liked about John Wick was that it didn’t mess around. It set the premise up and got down to business. The only gripe I had about the opening was that it was a flashback. We watch Wick collapse to the floor bleeding out while looking at a video of his wife.

It wasn’t necessary and while everything else was entertaining enough, that little niggle kept reminding me that this was all a flashback. The hitman will get hit.

Wick gets the adorable little beagle within the first few minutes. And loses him with fifteen. I kid you not.

We get a sense of the isolated life that John has made for himself straight away. You could relate to his frustration and aggression quite easily. His angry test track burn out on an empty airfield demonstrated that perfectly.

I expected more flashbacks or flickers between him and his wife. Bridget Moynahan (Blue Bloods) had the easiest job going. What is it with directors giving talented supporting actresses meaningless roles? An extra could have played her part.

Now I must reiterate that this is not just a revenge movie over a dog. Apologies to the RSPCA lovers but the dog is merely a symbol of John’s love and grief. The fact he was not allowed to grieve.

That right metaphorically taken from him in the form of a bludgeoned beagle. The death was off screen and done as subtly as possible for anyone who doesn’t fancy seeing a little pup punished. So John seeks out vengeance on the idiots who thought it was funny to cross him.

If anything, it was all over a car. A Mustang. Wick didn’t want to sell and Alfie Allen’s cocky spoilt gangster brat Iosef Tarasov REALLY wanted it. What a fool. He really picked the wrong guy.

Alfie Allen (Game of Thrones) may be getting type cast at the moment with playing creeps but he does it so well. A snarly little toe rag in desperate need of a slap or two.

The mystery surrounding Wick and his past are never really explained or explored. It’s infuriating in one instance but great in another. I loved the respect and code of honour among the gangsters and assassins in this seemingly ruthless and cutthroat business.

Michael Nyqvist (The original Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) was superb. A perfect adversary to Wick. His reaction when his son informs him that he has stolen from Wick. Fear, terror and anger.

The build up was just right. The gangsters preparing for battle. Wick breaking up a hidden briefcase with gold and guns under his concrete floor. You know. The usual.

The gold? Some strange currency that the assassins pay each other off with. Baffling. A gold coin here and there. No questions asked.

I like to have everything resolved. It’s not as if everything wasn’t self explanatory. BUT I wanted to know more about the underbelly and society that Wick desperately tried to escape. Not bad for a shoot em up. I actually wanted to know more about the story.

The hotel was an interesting set up. It added an extra dimension to something that should have been a bog standard actioner. The establishment even has rules. No killing without cause or authority. Mental.

There was quite a good supporting cast. Shame that some weren’t really used to their full potential. Adrianne Palicki (Friday Night Lights) was stunning as the sultry assassin out to break said rules. Ian McShane (Deadwood) was pretty much Ian McShane but played the hotel owner Winston with aplomb. I wanted more of him. Scene stealing at every chance.

John Leguizamo and Lance Reddick (Fringe) were reduced to small roles. They did their best with the parts. Reddick with his stern prowess as The Hotel Manager being a particular highlight.

Considering Reeves is 50, he can still kick an ass or two. Not quite ready for the Expendables scrap heap yet. If a Matrix reboot (Because let’s be honest, it’s only a matter of time) was ever on the cards, he could still do it.

The fight sequences were fast, frantic and furious. If a little repetitive. There are so many hand gun combinations you can do in a fight scene without them being flat out ridiculous or just tedious.

It was a lot better than I expected. Violent, brutal and mental in one instance. Mysterious and intriguing the next. The pace may dither in parts and the end result was always going to be a predictable one but I can certainly commend the writers for trying to do something a little different or at least make it worth watching.

3/5

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THE GUEST REVIEW

THE GUEST

This is one house guest you won’t want staying around. Crawley is back and kicking ass. Dan Stevens has definitely escaped from the dusty confines of Downton Abbey and boy . . . what a film to break the mould.

Stevens is incredibly charismatic and proves that he can handle the leading role with ease. He was one to watch after his turn as Matthew Crawley in Downton Abbey, but this performance will certainly put him on the map. However, it appears Hollywood have already clocked him with a supporting role in the new release of the Neeson crime showpiece, A Walk Among The Tombstones.

Now brought to you by the people who did You’re Next. When I read that, I dreaded what laid in store. I hated You’re Next. It completely flipped what I thought would be a solid slasher flick and turned it into a ridiculous farce. As soon as the opening credits of The Guest began with the highly elaborate overture that usually belonged to the 80s B-movie flicks, I was anxious. However, once Stevens flashed the pearly whites and unleashed that perfect American drawl, the anxiety dropped and a slow burning, suspenseful tension soon had me hooked as we try and decipher the intentions of the all too helpful lodger.

What’s it about? A soldier (Stevens) introduces himself to the Peterson family, claiming to be a friend of their son who died in action. After the young man is welcomed into their home, a series of accidental deaths seem to be connected to his presence.

A hint of A Shadow of a Doubt hovers over this indie action hit. In one moment, Stevens’ David works the charm offensive off every one in the screen, in the next he’s ready to destroy them. His unpredictability certainly makes for good viewing. However, one person isn’t buying it and that is Maika Monroe’s bizarrely dressed Anna Peterson. I don’t really pay attention to what people wear in movies but Monroe’s waitress stripper look was just strange and unattractive. The electro-infused soundtrack certainly made for interesting listening. Hypnotic at times but also balls-out random, which pretty sums up the movie and the finale in a nutshell.

The small cast play their parts well. Leland Orser’s (ER) frustrated feeble father, Joel David Moore’s pathetic pothead (Bones) and, scene stealer, Brendan Meyer’s Luke. Meyers delivered some of the better encounters with David. A tense encounter in a bar with some school bullies allows for cracking one liners and funny exchanges. Once Monroe seems to get over her sulking phases of having David in the house, she soon becomes a more interesting character. Especially with the fractious sexual tension inevitably blossoming between her and Stevens.

A little too much time is spent on the exchanges and glances that it slows the pace of the film down. However, the final 15 to 20 minutes came out of nowhere. The film goes in a completely different direction when Lance Reddick’s straight faced  (Fringe/The Wire) secret soldier creeps out of the woodwork. Now I think it will be down to the change in tide that will either make or break the film for people. For me, it made it so much better. For others, they may have preferred another route. Normally I am the latter. I’m staying cryptic because I want people to see this but it’s rapid, violent and balls-out (a lot of balls-out this time) reckless.

3.5/5 for me. Action packed, dark, funny, if a little long at the tooth in parts with an all out shoot em up and slightly abrupt finale. But not bad, not bad at all. Films aren’t testing me today.