Thursday, April 9, 2015

Puppy Love from JOHN WICK

Some folks probably still think of Keanu Reeves as he was in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, Point Break and Speed.  Well, not only has he grown up, he can get AARP Magazine.  Yep. Dude, Keanu is 50 now.  A trim, handsome 50 who looks more like 39 as he plays the tender-hearted yet tough-as-nails JOHN WICK.
I just got around to seeing this action movie and I totally dug it.  It's a stylish revenge thriller on the pulp fiction side.  The violence and the killings don't resort to over-the-top, graphic gore.  The editing is crisp and smart.  The stunts are well-choreographed.  This is a B movie that gets an A for filmmaking creativity.  Also, John Wick shows how Keanu Reeves has matured as an actor.

The animal magnetism narrative was inspired.  We don't really know who John Wick is as the film opens.  We do see that he and his wife were truly, madly, deeply in love in New York.  She took ill and died.  He was at her hospital bedside.  After her funeral, he gets a special delivery and a note.  The wife had arranged for a gift to be sent to him after her death.  The gift is the cutest little puppy you've seen in a modern movie.  The loving wife felt the puppy could help John through his grief and loneliness.
A young Russian thug messes with John when he's filling up his car at a gas station.  He wants John's car and notices the dog.  The thug says something in Russian and is dumbfounded when John answers back in Russian.  The thug and his henchmen invade John's home at night, beat him up, steal the car and kill the puppy.  That dropkicks John back to his initial point of grief.  He buries the puppy he loved.
Those hoods messed with the wrong man, we discover.  John Wick's name causes tough guys to tremble.  He was one of the most lethal hit men in the business.  Then he retired and found love.  How lethal was John Wick?  He once killed three men with a pencil.

John Wick is going after the gangsters who killed his dog.  This movie is one intense case of puppy love.  I did not expect to like this movie as much as I did.  Keanu makes you feel Wick's grief.  Especially when calls his enemies on it.  He's quite good.

My partner bought us a little turtle.  It made me laugh when he showed up with it because I hadn't had a  tiny turtle like that since I was a kid.  After Richard died, and days after his funeral, I came home from work one evening to find that the turtle had died.  I sobbed.  All that loss came up again like a tidal wave in my heart.  All the sorrow and all the anger because Richard was gone.  I understood the rage of Keanu's film character over the death of the puppy.  That was some clever scriptwriting from Derek Kolstad.  Former stuntman turned director Chad Stahelski gives us a slick action thriller that's a entertaining weekend pastime.  Stahelski was a stuntman on Point Break (1991) and The Matrix (1999), both starring Keanu Reeves.

Willem Dafoe, John Leguizamo and Ian McShane co-star in John Wick.

For a DVD double feature that puts some doggie style affection into your weekend, here's my tip for a movie to rent along with John Wick.

It's also got a lead male character who lost a loved one, carries grief in his heart and has a cute little dog to walk him through his loneliness.  THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST stars William Hurt, Geena Davis and Kathleen Turner.  The novel of the same name is my favorite book by Anne Tyler and The Accidental Tourist is one of my favorite films of the 1980s.  William Hurt deservedly got a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his performance as Macon Leary, the best-selling travel writer.  Macon lost a child and his marriage fell apart.
Macon needs to move on from grief, move out of the Leary Family rut that keeps him distanced from life and be embraced by unsophisticated, chatty and kind dog trainer who can help him with his dog.  Macon Leary really needs to be held.


Muriel, the dog trainer, is a single working mother.  For her performance as Muriel, Geena Davis won the Oscar® for Best Supporting Actress.  This quirky and touching film holds a very special place in my heart.  Lawrence Kasdan directed and co-wrote the screenplay.  The Accidental Tourist, like To Kill a Mockingbird and Brokeback Mountain, is one of those rare screenplay adaptations that's very faithful to its literary source.  The Accidental Tourist was an Oscar nominee for Best Picture of 1988.  I highly recommend it.

Enjoy your weekend and the movies.







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