Now the third installment in Keanu Reeve’s JOHN WICK trilogy has made it into cinemas, I can think of no better time to share my thoughts a mere half decade late on the original film that lit the wick five years ago.
Put simply, I have no hesitation in declaring JOHN WICK (2014) underwhelmed me to the extent it was immediately relegated to my WORST FILMS OF ALL TIME / HALL OF COMPLETE SHAME list.
If that’s too ambivalent for you let me make it even clearer: I did not like this film – even a little bit. ‘Utterly Ridiculous’ is the best description I can use to sum up a story based solely on 100 minutes of non-stop slaughtering all because someone killed the title character’s puppy at the beginning of the film. I’ve seen some quality revenge films in my time but this is definitely not one of them.
It’s a pity because the fight choreography in this movie (correction – the fight choreography IS the movie) is next level eye-candy stuff: a complete knockout in every sense of the word. Yet without well-drawn characters to cheer or boo for and something resembling an engaging, possibly twisting plot, it’s simply all desert and no main meal. That becomes unsatisfying well before the end credits roll.
I get that stripped-back movies like JOHN WICK (MAD MAX 4: FURY ROAD is another example) which deliver spectacularly on the promise ‘never a dull moment’ represent pushbacks to the traditional Hollywood rulebook insisting that movies, no matter what their genre, be padded out with needless subplots, predictable romances and unnecessary character super tropes (eg the troubled teenage daughter, the beautiful girlfriend who delivers the moral speech which gets the main character back on track etc).
But in the case of JOHN WICK and it’s cartoonish, hard-to-like-or-take-seriously-for-a- single-moment main character, the experiment just doesn’t come off – at least for me. If I want to see a stripped-back actioner spotlighting a no-nonsense person on a single-minded, succeed-at-all-costs quest, I’ll call on Denzel – THE EQUALISER 1 (2014) and 2 (2018) – or alternatively go retro with a dose of snarling Kurt (Russell) – ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK (1981).
Not being one to hold a grudge (very unlike John Wick himself) here’s the trailer (anyway) for JOHN WICK 3 –
All this pent-up negativity brought on by a movie now five years old – a movie that deserved to be forgotten the moment it ended but somehow managed to linger in my subconscious simply because it was SO DAMN AWFUL – got me thinking about some of the other film turkeys I and others have endured over the years.
Movies can be relegated to the fifty cent bin for a variety of reasons – (A) they’re turtle slow (B) they’re silly but not in an entertaining way (C) they’re populated by unlikable or worse still bland characters it’s impossible to care about or relate to (D) the landscape is literally riddled with plot-holes you could likely drive a wide-load prime-mover through that you might possibly have been prepared to overlook had it not been for the presence of any combination of the aforementioned A, B or C.
There are plenty of movies that disappoint because for a variety of reasons they fail to meet our expectations. That is not what is being talked about here. These movies are true stinkers from start to finish. Here is my dirty dozen list of WORST WATCHED MOVIES –
The only small consolation with that list is that half of them I saw via free passes. Not hard in retrospect to work out why they were free-pass movies. Before leaving this subject for good I thought I’d patch in what might be called a ‘bonus’ list. A bit of quick research on my part revealed these films are amongst a sizeable list of ‘D’ grade celluloid that regularly makes it onto critic’s and filmgoer’s ALL TIME WORST MOVIES lists.
Of those mentioned here I’ve only seen two – THE SWARM (1978) and THE IMPOSSIBLE (2012). While I can confirm THE IMPOSSIBLE was truly wretched, by comparison THE SWARM was watchable and even entertaining in parts. Then again, that movie, about a killer bee invasion of Texas based on the novel of the same name by Arthur Herzog (1927 -2010) was produced and directed by movie mastermind Irwin Allen, the genius behind LOST IN SPACE, so admittedly I might be a little biased there.
Here’s the list –
P.s And then there’s this… Go ClICKETY CLICK HERE
Pss. News is that JOHN WICK 4 has already been given a scheduled release date of mid 2021.
Psss. In the interests of journalistic balance click HERE for a really, really positive review of JOHN WICK 3.