John Wick - 1,2 & 3

“Art is pain, life is suffering” mentions Angelica at some point in the movie - 'John Wick - Chapter 3 - Parabellum'. That probably about sums up the three John Wick movies so far - there seems to be at least one more coming up.

What John Wick is, is a lot of suffering - again, Angelica says it 'All of this, for a puppy?' - but suffering nonetheless. How that suffering is rendered is where John Wick becomes art - pulp - but art, nonetheless.

The cinematic genre - noir - is all about cynicism and the ambiguity of moral stories told stylishly. They tend to be serious, self-deprecating, violent and brooding - 'China Town' comes to mind. Nothing gets more serious or cynical than that.

Add pulp into that - it becomes hard to define - pulp movies are just mindless fare with a mix of sex and violence and punch talks and of course, hard crime stories. There is no movie that beats 'Pulp Fiction' here. (insert a 'Pulp Fiction' trailer here - because I love it!)
 Now, add Keanu Reeves into this Pulp-Noir and New York at night with all its landmarks and drop pop-culture references all around, what you get is mind-blowingly stylish and violent 'John Wick'.

'John Wick' has no story. That may be most strongest part of the movie. The supposed story starts with John losing his puppy (in part 1) and that he used to be an assassin before and that his wife passed away earlier. So John starts his vengeance to get his puppy back.

We know nothing about John (aka Jonathan) other than what is said above. There is no back story, there is no flashback - you get to see war lords and mafia heads and Ninjas talking reverentially about John (aka the Boogeyman) - that's about it. John Wick is violent because he is. That's all.

John Wick 3 has a distinct style and timeline. The action happens in 'now' but this 'now' still uses Nokia phones and sliders, there is the distinctly 60's looking operators at switchboards passing messages through rotary phones, the computers are mainframes but the city is a neo-noiristic New York of the present - I had fun trying to identify places in every shot, most the places are out-of-ordinary non-touristy places. Add Keanu Reeves in crisp black suit with 'lots of guns' that completes the picture.

The movies are an excuse for beautiful action sequences. Like the ballet sequences in 'John Wick 3', every step of the action is like a dance, beautifully choreographed, the cinematic angles and shots are absolutely brilliant and watching the men die - in tens of hundreds - is pure joy (however perverse it may be!).

The references to 'Matrix' or the Tarkovsky or the insanely beautiful shots of Oculus or Modern art installations in the mirror rooms or the intricate inside story of a complete underworld with its own stories, spaces, currency and what-not and a lot more is what makes the movie worth watching.

The pure cinematic joy of watching a Tarantino movie is what you get. I couldn't stop thinking about 'Kill Bill' references or the old Hong Kong movies of Jackie Chan or Sammo Hung - who tend to break as much glasses or fall hard as many times as John Wick.

It is this cocktail mix of all of these things with the unbridled violence which does not restrict itself makes the movies such fun. If you look for all these references, you will enjoy or if you dont, you will enjoy nevertheless.

Grab a popcorn - and nothing makes it taste better than 'John Wick'.


Kasthuri Rengan said...

One of the best reviews I have read so far...kudos bro..

Muthuprakash Ravindran said...


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