Tag Archives: John Wick

Atomic Blonde (2017)

29 Jul

1989 Berlin. The wall is just a few days short of tumbling down and tensions between the East and the West halves of the city have never been higher. This is the setting we are placed in while being introduced to a British M16 spy Lorraine (Charlize Theron) who has been assigned to meet with David Percival (James McAvoy), a German operative who has sensitive information pertaining to both American, British, and Russian interests which could unravel an international conspiracy. The events of Atomic Blonde are mostly presented to us in flashback, as Lorraine is presenting her side of the story under interrogation by British and American authorities (Toby Jones, and John Goodman, respectively).  

What starts out as a simple spy thriller premise quickly unfolds into a stylish and sleek action film, filled to the brim with neon lights, martial arts, and shootouts. Unfortunately, much of the action comes at the expense of the characters, who come across as simple, two-dimensional cutouts from spy movie cliches.  The nonsensical story goes to great lengths to distract us from simple plot holes; what should have been fleshed out in the writer’s room gets covered up with the attention-grabbing, one-take fight scene or the frequent german rock song blasting out the speakers. Oh, and in case you forgot this was a German presentation, don’t worry – the film goes so far out of the way to remind us at every opportunity; most characters don’t go more than two minutes without saying the word “Berlin”. The film does have a few bright spots. Charlize Theron, our kick-ass heroine, absolutely devours every minute she is on screen. Her character delivers just enough deadpan humor to help carry us though the limp story. James McAvoy is also pretty good, doing his best Tyler Durden impersonation with a German twist.

Atomic Blonde aims to be a star-studded rock show, and in many aspects (especially on a visual level) it succeeds. But, without any substance behind what’s on screen you can’t help but think the director turned to an old trick stage producers will use when the band starts to suck: when in doubt – just turn up the volume and add some strobe lights.

Bottom Line: In a textbook example of style over substance, Atomic Blonde delivers a violent 120-minute music video at the expense of character, tension, or a sensible narrative.

Rating: 5/10

Film recipe: John Wick + Wanted + Salt 

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John Wick (2014)

13 Nov

He’s back and meaner than ever. Keanu Reeves stars as the titular character John Wick, a retired hitman hell-bent on avenging his dog by taking out a few members of a NYC mafia brotherhood. We don’t know much about Mr.Wick; we know he had a lover who recently passed away. We know he makes (or made) an insane amount of cash for his services, and we know he likes his guns.

Directors David Leitch,  and Chad Stahelski keep the action at a tight pace with John Wick, while providing us with just enough exposition to get us from scene to scene. The action is stylish and sequenced very well, complimented with feverish amounts of blood and gore. Keanu seems to fit right at home in his action environment. Though he shows no real character depth, he plays his role as hunter/executioner fearlessly and is a commanding presence while on screen.  The supporting cast is mostly composed of stock archetypes and flatter-than-pancake characters, the few notable standouts being played by Willem Dafoe and Michael Nyqvist

The script is pretty much B-movie type stuff, but the execution of certain sequences never quite reach the playfulness a script like this needs to be successful. John Wick takes itself way too serious to have much fun and instead of trying something original with the material, the directors simply copy and paste what successful genre films have done before. We get the same characters and scenarios we have seen countless times before from Taken to Die Hard to Transporter.

Overall, John Wick quickly becomes a fairly typical shoot-em-up thriller. Stylish yes, but not enough substance to warrant a second viewing.

 

Rating 5/10 

Similar to: Taken (2008), Mission Impossible (1996), The Transporter (2002)