Tuesday, August 09, 2016

"John Wick": An '80s Action Film Sanitized for SWPLs

Would you kill for a dog? With how people are with their pets, it would make sense for people to be pushed to the edge for their cats and dogs. Maybe not cats, but definitely a trusted dog. This would not apply to people with extended families, but if you were a lonely person with a dog for ten years or so, killing for that dog might make sense. The film John Wick finally answers what would happen if a man was driven to revenge for his dog.

John Wick is a 2014 action film that was shot on a low budget. Keanu Reeves stars in a film directed by one of his old Matrix stunt men. Reeves had promised him to be in his first film if he ever directed one, and Reeves delivered on that promise. This was successful enough to warrant franchise talks, and honestly, this could become like a modern, SWPL Death Wish franchise because of the better back story of the protagonist.

If you like '80s action films, please watch this. The film is like one stunt sequence after the other, which is unsurprising considering the director's start in stunts. This film is non-stop revenge and carnage. Keanu Reeves is a grieving man wronged by gangsters who then goes nuts on the mob using his hitman skills to exact revenge. There is little dialogue. There are few intentional jokes. There is no forced love interest. This is purely an action film. I definitely recommend this popcorn flick.

This is also an action film made safe for SWPLs and the Millenial/Gen X imagination. Death Wish was a film about an architect who had been a conscientious objector becoming a vigilante after his wife is killed and daughter is beaten, raped and left catatonic. Crooks get away with it. Like Dirty Harry or The Star Chamber, it was a film that expressed Silent/Boomer anger at the decayed society that allowed crooks to walk. Where was justice? Charles Bronson also very clearly goes after black hoodlums. Bronson transformed into the vigilante with the old timey pistol. John Wick is not going to tell a story like that.

John Wick the man (played by Keanu Reeves) is grieving over his wife who died of an illness. She is played by Bridget Moynahan who gets the call for "aspirational Gen X wife" when Hollywood requires because Kristin Davis is now too old. Moynahan is a classic beauty that you can take home to mom, take out to a classy bar and still want to have hot sex with. No kids, this is SWPL friendly come on. After the funeral, she sends him a gift; a dog to help him grieve. Wick bumps into gangsters, evil Russian gangsters, who want his car. Not for sale. They beat the crap out of him at his home, take his car and kill his dog. Wick snaps and revenge is on. He's gonna get revenge but the crooks better be white!

See, Wick was a hitman for the Russians and has a huge reputation for violence. He stepped away five years ago. Everyone knows him. Everyone but the Russian hot head. This sets a Rube Goldberg machine of watching Wick return to the life of crime and kill at will. Later in the film, the filmmakers double down on the revenge being over the dog as Keanu explains in full Keanu delivery that the dog was his last chance!

This is for SWPLs as there are cues. The bad guys are a white gang, but good whites would not have a mob so it's bad Russian whites. The bad Russian gangster has a pool party with no nudity and one of his floozies is a black girl, wait what? What are you nuts? Even NFL players don't have black girls at their pool parties? A Russian guy will have all Russian girls. A major SWPL sign though is the use of the dog. Wick has the dog 2 days. Not 2 years, 2 days. He went on his killing spree for a dog he just received. Ehhh, this is SWPL friendly so the filmmakers couldn't make it a kid. SWPLs don't have kids despite a dead child being maybe the prime reason for someone to go on a murderous rampage. Safe space factor since seeing a kid killed would trigger them plus the urban elves that are SWPLs probably would be angry about a dead dog more than a dead kid.

This plot bit and the weird timeline reveal another modern need: that yes John Wick was living a quiet life in a fantastic, modern looking home, but he was a cold blooded killer that everyone feared. A plot improvement would have been having Wick retire when his wife died, he gets the dog and has the dog for five years as the Russians then kill it. He would be rusty, but get back in shape. They did not even need the backstory that he was a hitman, and could have just gone the Death Wish route, but they did not. The problem is no one wants to see that development. Going from newbie amateur hell bent on revenge to crazed killer in 90 minutes is not as sexy. Moderns want the hero to already be an efficient killer, he just chooses not to be. Like how SWPL men could be macho but they choose not to be. The viewer wants to think they too could flip the switch and mow everyone down. It is an identity a viewer can use and discard at will.

A key though is the end where John Wick comes to grips with what he did. Not really. He watches a video of his wife. The SWPL ending comes into focus as Wick goes to a vet or animal shelter to get some meds and heal up. What? No? Good God man, he wouldn't??? Yes, he takes a dog out of a cage and walks off with him to start anew. That dog: a PIT BULL. In the theatres, the SWPLs must have all been reduced to tears.

End credits. Would watch again, will watch the sequel. Hoping that there is better motivation next time but that the stunts are just as well choreographed.


ConantheContrarian said...

The (((Russian mafia))) is not Slavic, although it is typically portrayed as Slavic in popular media. See the book The Red Mafiya by Robert Friedman.

Son of Brock Landers said...

Conan - I know. I did an entire post on that book.... http://28sherman.blogspot.com/2015/11/when-russian-mafia-is-not-russian-mafia.html

Murray said...

To be fair, Death Wish obfuscated its criminal element as well. While Kersey certainly goes after black muggers later in the film, the perpetrators of the initial murder/rape are a completely implausible gang of white freaks led by (((Jeff Goldblum)))! The whole sequence beginning in the grocery store and ending with the home invasion is kind of embarrassing to watch, with three awkward white guys fresh out of acting school trying hard to look scary and dangerous. Russian mobsters might have been an improvement.

Portlander said...

Sounds like I'm probably gonna miss this one.

What are the odds the self-parodying Pit Bull ending was focus grouped prior to release and was the clear winner with the target demo in test audiences.

Revilo Oliver's Revenge said...

Who ever directed John Wick should direct the Suicide Squad inevitable sequel, I watched Suicide Squad recently and is a trainwreck, David Ayer is a good director for LA crime stuff bu was out of his depth in this big budget supervillain film.

Suburban_elk said...

I look forward to giving it a watch, if it available for free. See how Keanu has aged.

"Like how SWPL men could be macho but they choose not to be."

Yeah that's about it.

Corn said...

I watched John Wick, was surprised how much I liked it. Don't get me started though on our society's attitude towards animals (my dog is my baby!!....barf).
Speaking of Death Wish though it's being remade. Bruce Willis is supposed to be playing Paul Kersey.

Anonymous said...

Keanu has zero talent and is unwatchable except when he played Johnny Utah in "Point Break." He's a younger Kevin Costner, another dullard who has made tons of money while sucking big time.