In 2014, a small genre film titled in Spain as ‘Another day to kill (John Wick)’ raised the slumbering career of the once great name in action cinema, Keanu Reeveswith a well-known formula for fans of the style in its most violent version.
A revenge storyflat and solvent, which has been generating more and more followers until its sequels, ‘John Wick: Blood Pact’ (‘John Wick: Chapter 2’, 2017), ‘John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum’ (‘John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum’, 2019) and ‘4’ (‘John Wick: Chapter 4’, 2023) have filled theaters, ratifying the cult status of an inevitable saga that could have up to a fifth part.
But, really, what did ‘John Wick’ offer to become a phenomenon and generate that wave of positive word of mouth? Is it really more than just an action movie generous in blood and coarse argument? Perhaps something escapes us, perhaps it is a matter of luck or it falls directly into the current trend to recover forgotten or buried ways of understanding cinema. A nostalgia product to the cannon cinema or the new hope of action cinema? Let’s review the reasons behind this surprising success.
For a deceased puppy
To begin with, let’s take a look at his argument. A guy who has lost his wife is attacked by mobsters who kill his dog, which was basically the last memory he had of his wife. Oh. Besides, the owner of that dog turns out to be one of the most feared assassins in the business. Obviously, the rest of the plot is an all-out revenge for Wick, who is very angry about the death of his dog. No, not a parody. Or at least it doesn’t seem so from the tone. It belongs to the “they screwed the wrong motherfucker” subgenre.
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back to basics
This may be his secret. Cutting complications and narrative mattresses until leaving the pure skeleton, in which an endless number of conventions are established with shooting scenes, hand-to-hand fights and the only justification needed: revenge. Also, the whole planet is aware that he is the deadliest man in the world. This exaggeration gives a tone of absurdity (one comes to doubt to what extent he is serious) and hilarious that he seems to like, probably because of that return to the silent and unstoppable protagonist as a superhero.
Veteran second unit directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, they film with a clean and sober look, with a certain taste for brothel lighting, which gives it a graphic novel chromatic scale that fits with its quasi-parodic quality of the genre. Perhaps that tone makes it fit among fans of action movies, although sometimes, one doubts if the thing she takes herself too seriously. More worrisome still is the false feeling that the film offers something out of the ordinary. It is effective, yes, but it is also flat and quite limited.
Another reason for its acceptance is the use of the violence without any complexes. It is easy to appreciate a cold killer, who simply tries to kill each target in the shortest possible time, with precision and an eye to blow the brains out of all the gangsters. In this sense, it is striking that Wick has received and how unnoticed other ultraviolent and gore vigilante and vigilante films such as ‘Death Sentence’ (‘Death Sentence’, 2007) or ‘Punisher 2: War Zone’ (‘ Punisher: War Zone’, 2008).
One of the elements in the shadow of success is that, for many, the protagonist of the ‘Matrix’ saga was unfairly removed from the real pot where the relevant productions are cooked. Gradually separated by box office flops like ‘The Legend of the Samurai: 47 Ronin’ (’47: Ronin’, 2013), Keanu Reeves He has pecked at low-budget projects, always related to martial arts and action movies. Working on another trail of budgets, it seems clear that ‘John Wick’ is the project that has definitely recovered him.
return of the watchmen
From b-series modesty to a new audience on VOD, Reeves looks like he’s never been seen before, bloodstaining his hands like a stylized 21st century Charles Bronson. The fact that he’s a hit man turned anti-hero also helps. It may be his connection with the samurai world that is the key to the success of a film with connections to yakuza cinema, and violent policemen, which also seemed to be missed since it was released. John Woo, Takeshi Kitano or Takashi Miike They left a gap that John Wick seems to have taken some advantage of.
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