20 April 2015

Bullet Time

Like a lot of people, my parents were stupid enough to get married and as a result are obviously now divorced. After twenty something years of marriage, they returned from a holiday with the news that I was now from a broken home. At least one of them didn't have to unpack their suitcase, I suppose. In the time since then, they've both found new partners and we've all been happier since. My Step-Mum punched me in the throat, my Mum's partner phoned my up in a rage to randomly tell me that I was a “piece of shit”. My Dad told me not to bother with my dream of one day trying stand-up comedy because I'm just “not funny” and then when I was going through a bad patch, my Mum said it was my own fault because I'm simply “incapable of being happy”... I wonder fucking why! I think it's only thanks to a laid back temperament and an aggressive addiction to hardcore pornography that's prevented me from going on a kill-crazed, murder rampage. It's nice that people feel I'm calm enough that they can talk so bluntly at me however sometimes a bit of humanity might be appreciated. Is it just me or do most people find that after about five minutes of talking to their parents they'd be delighted for the chance to just walk out into oncoming traffic?

Speaking of murder sprees- and being blunt- I happen to have recently seen the action film John Wick. To cut a short story even shorter.. Keanu Reeves is John Wick, a retired assassin who receives the gift of a young puppy from his recently deceased wife. I guess she figured that nothing helps you get over a loss like finding out you've now got to include picking dog shit up into your daily routine. Soon after, he's awoken one night by the sound of intruders who promptly kill his new pet, beat him up, and steal his car. As is traditional when you fuck over an assassin, Wick decides to then do the diplomatic thing, be the bigger man and just let the whole incident go. And by that I mean he smashes his old guns out from under his cement floor before heading out on a dementedly violent action-massacre in which he kills fucking everybody. If the death count in this movie is about 300 then he must fire about 2000 bullets with every single one hitting their target. Thanks to his OCD trigger finger, Wick fills people so full of metal that their bloodied carcass must look like if Robocop had been sat on by John Goodman. 

There are plenty of things to love about this movie, with the fact that it's just fucking brilliant being the most important. This is a film that knows exactly why you've paid to see it and so delivers with all the pain and bluntness of a conversation with my parents. This isn't a movie that will change the world with its insight into the human soul or its scathing political message. It's a movie which aims to answer one simple question, how many people can Keanu Reeves kill in about ninety minutes? As it turns out, it's quite a fucking lot! He breaks peoples necks, punches knives into them and pretty much murders more people per minute than I'd meet in a year... and that's if I decided to leave the house. He's a one man army who, in the space of a very reasonable running time, has single handedly solved our over-population crises with nothing more than a couple of guns and one dead dog. In fact, the death of the dog itself is proof of the film's knowing sense of self as it literally couldn't find a more efficient and ridiculous motive to get a psycho killer back in the saddle. Anyone who's ever seen any shitty disaster movie will know that a few billion people could die and we Nazi's wouldn't view it as any more than a statistic. However if one dog was to get melted by lava or burnt to death in a lake of acid then we'd lose our shit and turn the demonic movie off. We could have Wick's wife killed by a gangster but at best that'd only justify him going after that one man. If they've killed his cute little puppy though? Fuck the world, I want to see him stick every goons head on a fucking stick before drop kicking it through God's anus and into the Sun! 

I should point out though that as with the Fast And Furious franchise, this isn't a film that's enjoyable because of a self-awareness to its own stupidity. In fact, this film just isn't stupid. Rather, it's fucking hilarious due to its total commitment to absolute efficiency. Kind of like that bit in the opening chase from Casino Royale in which the humour comes from Bond saving time by just running straight through a wall. Thanks to its reasonable length, a fat-free story and a set-up that's about as simple as your average Rob Schneider fan, we really are allowed to just have fun watching Reeves kill people. This therefore leads me to the other thing that I loved which is simply the character of John Wick. Back in the day, iconic anti-heroes were being shat out left, right, and center, however now everything is rated PG-13 and only features characters who were previously only known to obese nerds in their pizza hovels. I mean don't get me wrong, I love superhero movies as much as anybody, but I also miss the days when a tattooed Kurt Russell could hit a man in the head with a baseball bat of nails and it'd make me laugh. Tony Stark might be enjoyably arrogant but he'll never quite be as cool as a younger Clint Eastwood feeling the need to single-handedly murder a small gang of men for casually insulting his mule.  

John Wick is a throwback to the good old days in which heroes were almost definitely going to hell and spent more time killing people than delivering lines. Some people might therefore argue that a character that specialises more in action than emotion would be perfect for Keanu Reeves. Those people are fuck-nuggets and we could never really be friends. I'm a huge fan of Reeves and although I admit that his performance in Dracula was like watching somebody use a coma patient as a ventriloquist's dummy, there's still no denying that he's a good actor. Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure, The Matrix, Point Break and My Own Private Idaho are just four examples of him being able to express more emotions than Paul Walker ever could, and look how much people are claiming to miss him now! However that's not to say that I don't think he doesn't excel in the action too, which is fine as every actor has a niche. In the way that Ray Winstone does particularly well at playing fat little cockneys, Reeves is at his best when punching people in the throat with the grace and elegance of a gazelle that exists on a diet of posh dresses and angel tears. As a result, the action in John Wick is just brilliant, with it being perfectly summed up by Five Live's Edith Bowman as being “like watching the Royal Ballet do a Tarantino film”.  

This sense of elegance is not only a result of Reeves' insane skills but also the way in which the camera has the common curtesy to stand back enough so that we can see what's going on. This is obviously in stark contrast to most modern films that feature so many close-ups and cuts that you could probably stick sex noises over the soundtrack and convince the audience that the characters were violently boning. I watched Fast And Furious 7 last week and there were some shots during a fight between The Stath and Vin Diesel were I honestly can't be completely sure that penetration wasn't taking place. I suspect it helps that this film was directed by two ex-stuntmen who have probably spent months perfecting a move for it to end up being a forgettable blur across a screen. I mean, Danny Dyer also ends up being a forgettable blur across a screen in all of his movies, but at least he hasn't risked his life to do it. Also, it's not just the fighting in which the directors have excelled with the 'world building' also close to being up there with that of Rian Johnson. Reeves is by far the main character, but we also get brief snippets of people like Ian McShane and John Leguizamo that draw intrigue for further investigation in subsequent films. Oh- and they have also done a great job at injecting the movie with a huge sense of style by plonking a blue filter over the lens and hanging up some neon lights. Anybody that doesn't think this is enough has clearly never seen Taken, which was so bland that I think I slipped into a trance deep enough that I accidentally reached enlightenment. 

Maybe you're a fan of Keanu Reeves and you've been waiting for him to reclaim his rightful crown as one of our leading monosyllabic killing machines. Maybe you've walked into the wrong cinema screen and you thought you were about to watch some poncey three hour worthy about a posh bitch determined to prove that love truly does conquer all. Maybe you've just stormed out of a conversation with your parents and their partners and were about to start looking for kitchen utensils that might aid you in your journey to the afterlife. If any of the above is true then I'm confident that this film will be more than a breath of fresh air. John Wick is a great slice of action and one of the more fun experiences I've had at the movies since I was tossed off on the back row by a gorgeous girl in a dream I once had. Thanks for reading motherfuckers, and I'll see you next time. 


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