John Wick

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Vampire Owl :: May be we should watch Beauty and the Beast instead of this.

Vampire Bat :: Now why should you think so after getting the tickets?

Vampire Owl :: Because you can find more than one John everywhere, but a beauty is so rare to find.

Vampire Bat :: You are beauty-blind. You never appreciate any kind of beauty. Do you know that?

Vampire Owl :: That is not true. I find beauty even in a mortuary.

Vampire Bat :: It is exactly what I am talking about. And this is why you will find more beauty or the strange image of beauty in an action movie like John Wick.

Vampire Owl :: What about Jessabelle? I have heard that she is a beauty.

Vampire Bat :: It has been panned by critics, and might not release here soon. The same is the case of Horns.

Vampire Owl :: See, they don’t release the right movie here. You should arrange a mutiny while I am planning to owlify the world.

Vampire Bat :: Still doing better than the censor board.

[Goes into the theatre].

What is it about? :: John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is spending his life in sadness and depression after the death of his wife Helen (Bridget Moynahan) due to cancer. But he receives a puppy which his wife had left for him and decides to love it a lot. One day, a group of gang members ask him to name a price for his car in which they are interested. But John refuses and leaves them very angry. But at night, lead by Iosef Tarasov (Alfie Allen), they get into his home, beat him up, kills his dog and steals the car. Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist), the leader of the gang and the father of Iosef scolds him and tells him who John actually is. He was his best assassin, who was nicknamed the boogeyman, and this ruthless killer will come to get the one who attacked him, and there is no force that can stop him. He tries to talk to John, which fails, and therefore places a bounty on him – the two major assassins who seem to take the offer seriously are Marcus (Willem Dafoe) and Miss Perkins (Adrianne Palicki). But John Wick has already started his mission – he has been in the best in the business.

The defence of John Wick :: The world of John Wick is nicely created, and it is a nice and gory one full of action and violence which stands apart. It gives a special feeling as we are guided through that strange and lawless world with its own chaos as the right thing to do. It is stylish work, and its style doesn’t go too much and make it complicated – it is simple and nice, with some melee combat and lots of gunshots, never really trying anything spectacular. We do need a good action movie with a lot of action which doesn’t get overdone with flying bodies, people doing insance stunts and all, and here is it. For those who need a bloody revenge story, here it is. It might be the time to imagine all those who were bad to you this week getting shot – yes, it is a lot like a video game and the one that first comes to mind is Max Payne. There is that kind of a feeling going on, and there is even the shot of a man playing a first person shooter getting shot, all of a sudden. Shoot, shoot and save the movie – I would say that it is the motto of John Wick.

Claws of flaw :: There is drag, and there is absolutely no doubt about it. The slowness of the movie is rather awkward and there are also some uninteresting parts of the action sequences which are uncalled for. The movie does seem to offer a lot in the beginning, but that much is not provided – John Wick is this, John Wick is that, but he is not that smart as it turns out to be, but sometimes goes on like a kind of Chuck Norris, getting rid of people who are in his way. But in melee combat, he gets beaten up a lot, and one has to wonder why he was considered that scary. It is all because of his dog getting killed, and that is also strange considering how much of a murderer the protagonist has been. Then there is the ending, and the final scenes as well as the fights are not the better things in the movie, even as they could have been – and that is a let down. We think that it has ended, and it has not, and then there is the hope for another ending, and finally it ends, it is predictable, keeping us looking on our watches – there are boring moments, and the movie is a little too long.

Performers of the soul :: Here is a movie of Keanu Reeves which is all about him as the name itself suggests. He is once again at his best, and in action, he seems supreme. He has blended into this avatar so nicely that this might be his best performance for some time. There is still nothing like seeing him in The Matrix, Constantine and Speed though – sorry, couldn’t live without mentioning them here. Michael Nyqvist is fantastic as the gang lord. The movie does leave one hoping that Adrianne Palicki had more to do – the only thing she does here is to try to kill John Wick, but she is supposed to be a smart lady assassin, and should do more, and could have controlled a lot more in the movie, and her end is also too cold. I thought she was very good in G.I. Joe: Retaliation as Lady Jaye, and here she has a blunt character, but I liked the way she dealt with it. The same is the case of Willem Dafoe who was needed more – there could have been more with him and that sniper rifle. Lance Reddick is nice indeed in his scenes. Ian McShane also leaves a nice mark. I do wish Bridget Moynahan was out of John Wick’s mobile screen for a little more time.

Soul exploration :: This is a story of revenge, and how it goes in a violent manner – there is no chance for regret in this world of chaos and annihilation. There is the assertion of the truth that one’s past can’t be asked to go away, especially if it is violent in nature. There can be many things that a man can be, but being not influenced at least indirectly by his past is rather not possible – the grave where you hide these tend to come back as zombies, and John Wick is no exception for the same. The Malayalam word for “past” is “bhootham” which means ghost, and it keeps haunting us, thus making that name a worthy one. John’s attempt to escape from his past doesn’t prove to be good for his present, and keeps his future uncertain. Yes, worrying about the past is useless, but not when it is a terrible one, and you do have something left in you to take your mind and body back to it – that means that you have not changed. Unless you have not let go in a way in which there is no return, there is no escape, because ghosts will successfully feed on them some day. There are not many twisted things in this movie, as the plot is direct – find, kill, have your revenge, leave in one piece if possible.

How it finishes :: This weekend’s challengers for John Wick are from Nightcrawler and Beauty and the Beast. The remains from the past include Gone Girl which is still going strong, along with Interstellar, Big Hero 6 and Fury which should be of no challenge for this one. Among this week’s releases too, this one should have the advantage, with Keanu Reeves being back at what he has been doing the best and can accomplish with that certain amount of awesomeness – there will be a lot of Matrix fans who have been hoping for the same. It is also the only hundred percent action movie among all the releases. The releases in other languages also has none that belongs to full action. Lets hope that John Wick will bring a change in the action genre as it hasn’t been doing that well as the situation used to be, unless being mixed with science fiction or some random adventure into the unknown or fantasy. Do give John Wick a chance if you are a strong action fan, otherwise may be you can doubt.

Release date: 14th November 2014 (India); 24th October 2014 (USA)
Running time: 101 minutes
Directed by: Chad Stahelski
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Adrianne Palicki, Bridget Moynahan, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Dean Winters, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, Willem Dafoe, Lance Reddick, Daniel Bernhardt, Omer Barnea, Toby Leonard Moore, Bridget Regan, Keith Jardine, Thomas Sadoski, David Patrick Kelly, Clarke Peters, Kevin Nash, Randall Duk Kim, Scott Tixier

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Die Hard V

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We had a hostage situation in 1988 on screen; that was what Die Hard brought with itself – one of my favourite action movies of all time and may be something superior to most of the rest when I first watched it. When they took over the airport in Die Hard 2, this sequel was not something which could have failed, and it didn’t. Actually, there were moments which made this one seem to try and overtake the first. Then came Die Hard 3, which did the exact same thing as Transporter 2 did to The Transporter – it brought the level of magnificence down from the firmament; still distant from being the worst imaginable sequel, for it became a lesser thing only due to the power of the first two movies. It took the series twelve years to come back as Live Free or Die Hard – not a bad return for something which seemed to have disappeared long ago. It was quite certain at that moment that we hadn’t seen the last of the series, and here we have Die Hard 5 a.k.a A Good Day to Die Hard. May be John McClane is forever; like the T-virus. But a virus infection would make another bloody story – and the same is the case with an immortal McClane; therefore, lets keep that away.

John McClane is back; this time in Russia – the man with his own style of facing everything, from near-death situations to almost-life situations. He is the man who is always in the middle of a crisis, whether it is a complicated family problem or an extremely simple shoot-out which might even include helicopters and fighter planes. He is specialized in being at the wrong place at the wrong time, and it might be something hereditary. The one thing that the viewer could be sure about, is that his character is not that far away from a superhero status. He faces his villains with more confidence than the superheroes – one simple thing which has to be kept in the mind before watching Die Hard V. Well, there are not many other heroes of this calibre – Arnold Schwarzenegger’s The Last Stand made me think about intentionally feeling otherwise, but one has to come to the conclusion that McClane belongs to another genre; a similar but another area of interest. Our men of the video games, featured in the movies Hitman and Max Payne, might have a shot in future though.

The scene has shifted to Moscow. The name of the villain is Yuri Komarov – brings to me the memories of Boris Pasternak’s masterpiece Doctor Zhivago with its Yuri Zhivago and Komarovsky. Other than thinking about these two names which strike a similarity with this one name, there is nothing to be mentioned about this movie related to the Nobel prize winning novel and its critically acclaimed movie adaptation by David Lean. No, that was not even a comparison but something which caught my attention. The other villain is named Viktor Chagarin, not a name I am going to identify with some other character of another work. It is in the battle between these two, that the hero’s son Jack McClane is caught. John McClane who has not been in touch with his son for years, makes a visit to Russia to get him out of trouble – or in his words, he goes on a vacation to Moscow. Jack had ended up in prison, but escapes with Komarov. Even as the father and the son never seems to get along in the beginning, they slowly begins to work together and solve the problems.

The son turns out to be a CIA agent (his father would address him as the 007 of Plainfield, New Jersey), and his undercover operation would turn out to be a lesser twist than what Komarov and his daughter Irina would have to offer for them. Fortunately, there is no twist over twist, like that one Bollywood movie, Race 2. Still, to take the story to another level (or to a rather strange idea which could have surely taken a better twist) action would soon shift to Chernobyl, Ukraine; uranium, radio-activity and weapons. There are some twists and betrayals coming close to creating an impact, but most of the time, what saves the movie is its action scenes and the one-liners. There is enough fun and mindless action to keep this running. The McClane family problems would surely be solved in the end. Jack had said that “We’re not a hugging family” before the first half, and one knows that the family is united by the end, and can guess that “the hugging problem” might be solved before a possible Die Hard VI.

Bruce Willis stands strong as John McClane. He has continued with his “everyman” action star who seems to be drifting away a little from that status. One can only remember K’naan’s lines “When I get older I will be stronger, they’ll call me freedom, just like a wavin’ flag” – something which I heard a lot during the 2010 FIFA World Cup run of the Spanish Armada; McClane is just like that, for he has only got stronger with the age. But the doubt might be about his strength and durability which is reaching a new level with experience of old age, something which reminds me of those video games. That takes away that one McClane of the earlier century who was more vulnerable and prone to errors. The age has surely caught up with McClane, but it has had a positive impact on him, both physically and intellectually. Expendables 1 and 2 had similar impact on its characters, and as Bruce Willis played one of them, one has to doubt if that element has stayed as far as Die Hard V.

Yuliya Snigir looked extremely good out there, but should have had a better role to play in this one; as her character couldn’t create that impact which one of the two main antagonists could have come up with. The twists basically revolved around her, and there was mystery surrounding her until the Chernobyl scene, but the character of Irina had to suffer due to the action-centered approach to the movie. Actually, one has to wonder what has been there for the character in the movie- a typical one-dimensional character, a title for which even John McClane might be suitable someday. There is nothing wrong in the performances, but there is that absence of three-dimensional character elements throughout the movie. Even among these confusions, the best part of the movie was undoubtedly the car chase scene, and it powers the experience from the beginning. The end-action might be a little overdose, but still not unsuitable for the style of the movie. The support of good special effects make even the ordinary action scenes worth a watch.

We surely miss that skyscraper; also that airport. But still, Die Hard series would stay alive. When John McClane says that he is on vacation, it is a fact. This is a vacation which is slightly below the quality of the other movies of the series. But still, there are gun-shots everywhere, and high-speed car chases end up in heavy destruction of property, and even the flying machines join the action. So, in simple words, this is his vacation. If that means that there is even better to expect when he is out of vacation, that would be quite a treat. Die Hard IV was an improvement from Die Hard III and therefore, there is no shortage of expectations which can be put on the shoulders of this series. Even if one might have the tendency to call it a dumb action movie, I would say that it is just because it belongs to that genre and it has performed its duty. There was Expendables 1 and 2 along with many others which could have deserved that title in an even better way. Come back, Die Hard; come back stronger.

Release date: 13th February 2013 (USA); 22nd February 2013 (India)
Running time: 97 minutes
Directed by: John Moore
Starring: Bruce Willis, Yuliya Snigir, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch, Radivoje Bukvić, Cole Hauser

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.