Movie Review: John Wick

Movie Review: John Wick

John Wick is the sort of revenge-motivated killing spree that Hollywood churns out with clockwork regularity. But beneath the spent shell casings is an equally recognizable Christian conviction maintained by a non-Christian world.  Keanu Reeves returns to the screen as John Wick, initially presented as the grieving widower of a wife taken by cancer. A beautifully […]

By Mark HadleyWednesday 29 Oct 2014MoviesReading Time: 3 minutes

John Wick is the sort of revenge-motivated killing spree that Hollywood churns out with clockwork regularity. But beneath the spent shell casings is an equally recognizable Christian conviction maintained by a non-Christian world. 

Movie Review: John Wick 
Keanu Reeves returns to the screen as John Wick, initially presented as the grieving widower of a wife taken by cancer. A beautifully crafted opening montage tells us everything we need to know about their heartfelt love and the aching holes she has left in his life in under a minute. The conclusion is the arrival of her final gift: a puppy to help him learn to love again. However a chance meeting with the son of a Russian mobster, the theft of his car and the killing of his dog reveals a different side to John’s character. Viggo (Michael Nyqvist) reveals that John is actually ‘the bogeyman’, a former freelance killer of formidable skill and his criminal organization braces for bloody retribution – which arrives on cue and in precision, three-round bursts.

To be honest, there’s not much new in this latest version of the vigilante killer. Keanu Reeves does a semi-convincing performance as the ultimate warrior, though nothing to rival his performance in The Matrix series. There are one or two surprises – a fighting style that integrates handguns and a mysterious hotel that caters to visiting hitmen and women – but otherwise it’s a hackneyed body-countdown to the conclusive confrontation with the ultimate bad guy. But underneath it all is an equally reliable human conviction about the come-uppance evil faces.

We may live in a secular world that publicly proclaims either the non-existence or non-judgmental nature of God. Fellow hired gun Marcus (Willem Dafoe) assure John:

“There’s no rhyme or reason to this life. It’s [bad] days like these scattered amongst the rest.”

– but neither John nor the audience believe him. However the stories we tell ourselves suggest otherwise. Films like John Wicks are built on the belief that the perpetrators of evil will one day suffer a judgment of Biblical proportions. In fact Viggo tells John that God is quite aware of his misdeeds as well:

“We are rewarded for our misdeeds, which is why God took your wife and unleashed you on me. This life follows you.”

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In short, those who live by the sword will die by the sword – another Biblical moral taken from Jesus’ words in Matthew 26:52. However, like most films in this genre, John Wick doesn’t end without a note of hope.

Our society may publicly deny the Bible, but we clearly believe in evil and that it cannot avoid judgment. We even believe the heroes we identify face the prospect will be called to account. But we hope that they, and us, might still find some path to redemption. John Wick concludes with our soiled hitman getting a chance at the cleansing love his wife hoped for. It’s by no means a Gospel ending but it lets you know what our filmgoers are secretly hoping for.

Rating: MA15+
Distributor: Roadshow

Release Date: October 30