John Wick – Franchise Catch Up

Before this week, the fact that I hadn’t seen John Wick is always something that surprised people when I told them. It just didn’t appeal to me. It sounded like a middle age fantasy about being a killer. Not something I avoided, but just never got round to it. To be honest I’ve had the DVD since it came out. Well now’s the time.

For those that are new, Franchise Catch Up is where I take a series of films (of at least 3) that I’ve never seen before and binge watch them, writing an initial thoughts for each one shortly after watching it. Whether you haven’t seen the John Wick series and are curious, or you love the franchise and want to see what a newbie thinks, I hope you enjoy.

John Wick

The only thing I knew about this film was the beginning. Everything I knew about the plot happens in the first five minutes. I thought it would take longer to get going, but it just hits the ground running. This is a thrill-ride of a film. It’s Rambo for the 21st Century. It’s unintentionally funny with some awkward dialogue and intentionally funny with some of the insane action. I really enjoyed this for about an hour and then I was hoping the end would come a little quicker. For me it really ran out of steam by the end of the nightclub sequence. That would have been too short for a film, but I don’t think the action got better than that. It was a decent film, and I was honestly really enjoying it up to that point. Maybe it’s the heat. I watched this on the 18th July with a fan on me the whole time. It’s really hot, and that could play into it. Hopefully the sequels are as good as the first half of this one.

John Wick: Chapter Two

John Wick is back and this time the dog survives. Set straight after the first one, John Wick hunts down his precious car, destroys it and then heads home. He is met by an old friend who calls upon a favour John owes him. At first John refuses and then the friend burns his house to the ground so John accepts. The man wants him to kill his sister, which he does and then the friend puts a hit out on John to keep up appearances. This film’s set up and plot is stupid and not in a good way. I didn’t like this one. It’s way too long, the action isn’t as good as the first one. It’s just shoot everyone in the head. John is invincible. Even when he gets hurt he seems to shrug it off until the plot needs it.

It looks stylish as hell and each scene is well shot. Reeves does a good job and the action looks good, but I just found myself getting bored. I don’t have a problem with big dumb action films, but I just don’t get this one. It’s too long to be entertaining. It’s near enough 2 hours of Reeves shooting people in the head. There is one assassin who hunts him down, but doesn’t shoot him at subway station, and they instead just look at each other and then shimmy closer in the train. Why?

I like the world building and how it’s slowly being presented to us, but the ending in this one is stupid. The world is after Wick. Is literally everyone an assassin? I hope the third one is better. I kind of liked the first one, but this was just boring.

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

Here we are with the latest release in the series so far. Again this film is really way too long. It could be half an hour shorter easily. This one starts off strong where he uses a horse to kick his enemies, slapping them to trigger their back legs to kick enemies in the face. That made me laugh out loud and he does it twice. The film then quickly goes downhill, just being 2 more hours of headshots, main characters surviving everything. There’s some very nice action sequences but it does drag on. The lore is also getting annoying in this one. It may just be me, but the whole underground world of assassin’s and their oaths, rules and contracts is just too much. I thought it was cool at first, but it seems to almost be a parody of itself at this point. Also everyone surviving everything. How does Wick survive so much, all 3 films take place in a week. I understand that it’s just a film and it’s action, not supposed to be taken seriously, but it feels too forced, especially at the end of this one.

Final Thoughts

I haven’t avoided the John Wick films, I just never got around to seeing them. Now that I have, I wasn’t really missing much. They are OK. Not spectacular, not bad. For the most part they are enjoyable but the defining trait of the series for me is that they go on too long. Action films with no plot, other than shooting everyone in the head and a lead character who is as paper thin as Keanu Reeve’s voice acting in Cyberpunk 2077, should be at max 90 minutes. They are essentially Rambo for the 21st century. It’s a wish-fulfilment fantasy for middle aged men who want to kill people. The action is really good and well shot, the cinematography is fantastic with the whole series looking stylish and polished. It’s just every film gets boring and repetitive. The first one is the best one, being the strongest of the lot and the series high is the horse kicking in the third one. I wouldn’t call myself a fan, but they are what they are.

To be fair I do also think the heat has played a part in it. It’s been so hot in my house, the rooms are stuffy and I think that’s made the films feel longer. I don’t think these would be classics without this problem though. I would re-watch the first one quite happily, but that’s it. I will go and see the 4th one when it eventually comes out. I’m sure on the big screen this would be a great night out.

Thanks for reading and until next time,

Ashley

About ashleymanningwriter

Young Adult Fiction writer. Horror and fantasy blended together.
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2 Responses to John Wick – Franchise Catch Up

  1. As an avid movie fan, action films included, I still haven’t seen a Wick film. I’m not certain I’m going to rush out and get a copy anytime soon. Of course, I have always found Keanu Reeve’s films to be a little hit and miss with me. A boyhood grin and parchment-thin depth is too often the case.

    • You aren’t missing much. I agree about Keanu. I think The Matrix was the perfect fit for him, essentially as a new born adult, learning about the world around him. I also like Bill and Ted. Other than that I haven’t seen him in anything that’s left an impression. There are better action films out there than John Wick.

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