John Wick, by Albert W. Vogt III

There are many reasons why John Wick (2014) is a completely asinine movie.  It has nothing to do with what sets off Jonathan “John” Wick (Keanu Reeves) on a murderous rampage through a Russian mafia family.  Having a former hitman turned family man turned revenge man say lines like “They killed my dog” may sound dumb, but if you see how cute the puppy is and why he got it, you can at least understand his anger.  I cannot condone his actions, but I would be pretty mad, too.  If not what triggers him, then what could be another reason for my inability to take this movie seriously?  A larger reason could be my growing distaste for purely action films.  They are beginning to become like musicals for me. Whenever an action sequence begins, like a song interlude, it is an opportunity for me to play a game of chess, take a walk around the block, or do my taxes.  A more specific reason could be the Russian crime boss’ assistant Avi (Dean Winters).  If that actor’s name does not mean anything to you, then perhaps you might recognize him better as “Mayhem” from State Farm Insurance commercials.  If you can see his face and witness him trying to be an integral part of an organized crime syndicate, and still take this seriously, then you are a better man than I, Gunga Din.  My favorite reason to see this all as the steaming pile of garbage that it is, though, is something that would only appeal to a select few.  One of the bodyguards tasked to protect that same Russian crime boss’ son, Iosef Tarasov (Alfie Allen), is a character named Kirill (Daniel Bernhardt).  Bernhardt has had bit roles here and there, perhaps his biggest one being Agent Johnson in The Matrix Reloaded (2003).  While watching the train wreck that is John Wick, I kept thinking to myself, where have I seen him?  Then I remembered all the Mystery Science Theater 3000 (1988-1999) episodes I have seen, and the one that he is in clicked: Future War (1997).  Despite its title, it is not set in the future, and there is no war, but there are dinosaurs.  These dinos are brought from another time to track down “I really want to be Jean-Claude Van Damme” Bernhardt’s character.  I am getting off topic here, but check out the episode that features that flick to get the full experience.  It is things like this that take me completely out of any enjoyment I might get from John Wick.

Well, it appears I have deviated from my usual format in talking about John Wick, but I am only getting warmed up.  How about we talk about plot holes?  So, John Wick’s wife, Helen (Bridget Moynahan), dies of cancer.  Apparently, at some point in the middle of her treatments, she arranges for John to get a beagle puppy to cope with his loss.  Days after her passing, with Daisy the beagle in the front seat, John is accosted by Iosef at a gas station.  He is impressed with John’s 1969 Ford Mustang, and the dog to boot.  So, he offers to buy them on the spot.  John refuses and Iosef gets angry.  So far, so clear.  Yet, somehow, he is able to get John’s address.  We do not see what secret contacts or information he uses, he just shows up later that night in John’s house.  I would think that a person who can find out information like that so easily might also know the identity of the person whose car he had stolen and whose dog he had killed.  Aurelio (John Leguizamo), Tarasov’s auto shop owner, knows right away when Iosef pulls up in John’s car.  But do we see again after the first fifteen minutes a character who knows a thing or two about what they are all about to experience?  Nope!  It takes the boss, Iosef’s father, Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist), filling in his way-too-confident son as to what is about to be brought on them.  To Viggo, John is not just the boogeyman, or baba yaga in Russian, but the man you send to kill the boogeyman.  This is where I take one huge yawn because you know what comes next.  Punch, shoot, stab, bang, boom, blah, blah, blah.  Yet, we are talking about plot holes here.  Another involves John’s competitor and close friend, Marcus (Willem Dafoe).  Viggo approaches Marcus and offers the assassin $2 million to kill John.  Marcus accepts, and we see several scenes where he has a sniper rifle trained on John, only to give his target warning shots or even help him on occasion.  You can quibble with me all you want about this being a plot hole.  At the same time, if he never thought to fulfill the contract, why go through the pretense of saying he is going to do it?  He had to know that eventually Viggo would figure out that something is amiss with John still walking among the living.  Yet, John finds out where Viggo’s vault is from another would-be assassin trying to kill him, Ms. Perkins (Adrianne Palicki).  He goes there not because he is interested in Viggo’s money, but because he is told that is where Iosef is located.  This turns out not be true, which means either John is really gullible or he is lied to.  Potato, potatto.  Whatever it is that happens, it leads to even more plot holes.  John gets captured.  Not killed, captured.  Viggo could have ended it all right then and there, but he has to have the talk with John before having someone suffocate him.  Pretty dumb.  Surprise, surprise, John frees himself and has a gun trained on Viggo.  In exchange for his own life (for the moment), Viggo gives John the location of his son and agrees to lift any contracts on John’s life.  While John Wick goes and does what John Wick does, Viggo takes out his ire on Marcus, saying Iosef would still be alive had Marcus pulled the trigger.  Uh, hello, do you not remember the time a few moments ago when you signed your son’s death warrant by giving a man on a murderous revenge quest Iosef’s address!

So far, I count 629 different plot holes in John Wick.  I exaggerate, of course, but there are many.  Yet, now I shall be returning to my usual routine of focusing on Faith for this paragraph.  There are a lot of little things that annoy me here, like the front for Viggo’s vault being a Catholic Church.  How do I know it as such?  Well, there is a man dressed as a priest in the seasonally appropriate robes.  There is also the priest at the funeral scene at the beginning not wearing the proper vestments.  As usual, it is more evidence of Hollywood only half caring about how our Faith is depicted on screen.  What I care about more are the Christian symbols tattooed on John’s body.  There is a bit of a stereotype here to which Hollywood is all too eager to contribute.  In movies and television shows, you often see criminals or other underworld types with body ink that one can identify as being Christian.  For the life of me, I cannot understand why this is the case.  Or maybe we really have not moved past the nineteenth century when Irish Catholics were depicted as wild animals pouring over the Atlantic to invade the United States.  However, the Tarasovs are clearly Russian.  I have yet to see any Orthodox ink of the praying hands like John has, or the Latin phrase “Fortis Fortuna Adiuvat,” which means “fortune favors the bold.”  Latin, by the way, is the language of the Catholic Church.  Also, since John seems to know Russian and had been in their employ in years past, why would he have these drawings in his skin?  It does not make any sense.

The final insult comes at the end of John Wick.  After he has killed the guy from Future War and the guy from the State Farm commercials, as well as both papa and son Tarasov, the movie winds back to the beginning (a frightening thought) when he is wounded and looking at a video of Helen on his phone.  It seems to be the thing that revives him.  He also seems to have also stopped outside of a veterinary clinic.  He then promptly goes inside and comes out with another dog.  In other words, he could have replaced the old dog quite easily!  In summation, do not see this movie.  There is nothing of value.

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