Why John Wick’s Movies Are America’s Greatest Action Movies
Die Hard, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Speed, Kill Bill, Lethal Weapon. These films are just a few of the many great action films of our time, films that have managed to stand the test of time and can still be viewed today. While all of these movies are great on their own, I’m here to talk about another action movie franchise. A movie that managed to turn a low budget action flick into an entire franchise that no one saw coming. I’m talking about John Wick, the greatest action movie of modern times. However, keep in mind that this is only an opinion and while I have a lot of respect for other action movies, I’m here to tell you why this one is the best.
Well, the story is pretty straightforward actually. A very dangerous man who did very bad things to people retired and sought a normal life with a woman he fell in love with. When she dies suddenly, he only has one puppy left, which she sent him, in the hope that he will continue his life in peace. One day, a spoiled young punk takes an interest in John’s car and makes him an offer to buy it. John refuses and the man decides to follow him home to take him for himself, in the process the man also kills the dog his wife left him. Taking the last memory of his wife, John seeks revenge on the man and his known associates.
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The story is so simple that it’s easy to get started. The film gives its viewer a simple and clear premise to follow, while also making you sympathize with John. Its motives make sense, they don’t require anything elaborate to be explained, nor do they require you to research an underlying message. It’s simply a revenge movie but done with good taste. Even after the success of the first film, the second installment still contained an easy narrative. As John is forced to answer a scorer’s call by Santino D’Antonio, tasked with executing D’Antonio’s sister so he can take her place as royalty. John is dubbed and a blow is put to his head by the underground company of assassins. At the end of the film, John claims his revenge on D’Antonio on the mainland and sets the stage for the third installment. The third film continues with John fleeing from assassins around the world who try to claim the bounty. John must then find a way to save his own life or lose the life of one of the many killers on his trail.
With such a good setup, the third film picks up Mr. Wick as he goes through any assassin in the world. With limited resources and major injuries, he must find a way to speak with the leader of the Continental to survive. Once again, we’re given a story that prioritizes action over story, but gives audiences just enough to step back and care about John Wick’s epic journey.
Many give Tom Cruise for doing his own stunts in the Impossible mission movies, which is great. But often don’t realize that Keanu Reeves also does around 90% of his own stunts. If you don’t believe me, watch his face closely during the stunt scenes and see that it is indeed him. If you still don’t believe me, then that’s how good Reeves is at his own stunts. He’s always trained to the point that he looks as good as a stuntman. But that’s what elevates the quality of the movie, instead of a stuntman coming in and doing an incredible feat, we can watch Keanu Reeves play the character and perform some of the most death-defying stunts on screen.
The fight choreography
After Keanu Reeves doing his own stunts, he also does the majority of his fight scenes. One thing that is often seen in American action movies is the quick cuts and never the actor’s face. John Wick’s director and fight choreographer makes sure audiences watch Mr. Reeves perform every fight scene he’s in. Rather than just cutting every time a scene gets too complicated. In the John Wick movies we are blessed with great angles and great choreography that sells the action and puts us in the action. We end up buying into the character and what he’s capable of. Even guest actors like Common and Halle Berry go through intense training to star their scenes alongside Reeves. Something American audiences might not even have realized while watching the movies.
Director Chad Stahelski manages to offer audiences a forgotten art, the art of natural stunts, simple storytelling and wide angles. With the John wick movies, we see Reeves bringing to life a character audiences don’t care about since Neo in The matrix. By bringing back some of the old Asian ways of making movies, taking a few pages from Jackie Chan himself, the team behind the John Wick franchise has managed to deliver some of the best American action movies to date. And with the anticipation of the upcoming fourth installment, we anticipate what else they’re capable of in the next movie.