Following in the footsteps on many films in the action genre, I finished John Wick somewhat disappointed. There was nothing specifically wrong with the film, per se, but nothing that made it stay with you. As I watched, I kept waiting for the part that was yet to come that would grab me and make me feel part of the story, and like the stakes were high, and maybe even mattered, but that part never came.
John Wick was an assassin. We learn this because everyone and their brother tells us so, and multiple bit part characters make reference to it, though the first scene meant to show it really just seemed like John Wick took the time to aim and didn’t walk out into the line of fire without checking to see if someone was waiting for him with a gun, first.
The film is not told in chronological order, and it opens with John looking at the verge of death in the rain, where he is crawling away from an SUV and watching a home movie on his phone of a woman who turns out to be his dead wife, played by Bridget Moynihan (Blue Bloods), who only even shows up through home movie and very brief flashback.
Apparently, she recently died and John is a mess about it. When the son of an old business acquaintance breaks into John’s house to steal his car, John is also beaten and his dog is killed. This doesn’t sit well with John and serves as the film’s inciting incident.
As soon as the father finds out, it becomes clear that within the world of assassin’s, the name John Wick is relatively equivalent to the bogeyman. The film is then just a sequence of meaningless scenes of people shooting each other until virtually everyone in the film is dead, and nothing seems to have been accomplished and no characters go through any emotional growth.
The main problem with John Wick wasn’t that is was a heavy action film with little plot, but that there wasn’t enough character development to make the viewer care. It was like joining the movie halfway through, after the wife was killed and after the fall out with the other assassin. Since we came in half way through the story, it’s hard to make enough emotional investment to care about who kills who during the rest of the film, as we see shoot out after shoot out, with the occasional explosion.