Sunday, 18 January 2015

REVIEW - JOHN WICK (DAVID LEITCH AND CHAD STAHELSKI)


Style and technique in service of the perfect action film, or what is intended to be the perfect action film. John Wick's leanness is a part of its appeal, but it's also what prevents the film from even the capability of aspiring to such perfection. It's in the accuracy, and the inaccuracy, of directors David Leitch and Chad Stahelski's style and technique that they approach such aspirations at all. They favour restrained verve, flashiness condensed, not compromised, into neat little bursts of brilliance. The brilliance is not in the concept, which is excusable only in that it smartly exploits its position within the history of macho revenge films, but in its execution - few films can get away with existing only to show off what their filmmakers can accomplish, and generally only do so when those accomplishments are great. Truly, Leitch and Stahelski's action scenes are great, ingenious in the intricacy of the stunt co-ordination, and the inherent understanding of spatial dynamics that these action experts can provide - crucial, since that's largely what action films live or die on. John Wick is clever in its own way, then, which makes it enjoyable to watch; it's questionable in very many other regards, no matter how one might brush off notions of sexism (valid) or xenophobia (debatable) by relating this film to the countless films that have inspired it. Their existence does not justify even themselves, and if John Wick is a tribute to them, then one must ask why a tribute must exist at all. Its style and technique raise it above the flaws in its most basic design, however, regardless of whether or not they're genuinely in service of the perfect action film.