John Wick: Serial Killer or Mass Murderer?

DATELINE: Kill Count Around 200?

Keanu with Anjelica.

We just had the pleasure of watching a film that is the epitome of political incorrectness in America after a half-dozen shootings in society. John Wick: Chapter Three Parabellum is a violent satire of gun use. At least, we think it is meant to be funny.

Para bellum is Latin for “prepare for war.”  It is only one of several high-toned touches of art and culture in a brutal shoot’em up. We did not have our clicker with us, but we believe Wick kills over 150 people, one at a time. It causes the movie to run for a full two-hours and have credits that will feature keanu’s chef.

Keanu Reeves has now appeared in three of these sagas, his big money-making series. At 55 he is giving contemporary Tom Cruise a run for old age. We cannot imagine how he can run, jump, kill, and duck endlessly and never be out of breath. And, he is shot and stabbed on more than one occasions.

You know that Wick is dangerous when he kills an assassin in the New York Public Library—with a book. And then puts the bloody tome back on the shelf.

The film is a series of set pieces of mayhem. It seems everyone in the world is packing heat—and most of those are hired guns. No wonder we have shootings every week. It’s part of a movie fantasy world.

Among the high-brow stars is Anjelica Huston playing The Director, some kind of Russian oligarch balletomane who runs a dance company like she’s a female Diaghilev. Also on hand for chuckles is Ian McShane and Laurence Fishburne. Don’t worry about your stars being killed off: they will need to return for the fourth entry (yes, it is clearly coming).

In the meantime you can wonder about the brilliant choreography done by Reeves, and then there are outlandish set scenes like a swordfight on motorcycles.

We want to say the body count is quite high, but we think more panes of glass were broken than any other kind of vandalism. There isn’t a window in which someone does not put his head right through.

We also see plenty of blood splatter as heads are blown away with armor piercing bullets when a sword through the eyeball is not handy.

We haven’t seen this high a body count since Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood went Where Eagles Dare, killing Nazis.

 

 

 

 

Bill & Ted Face the Music!

DATELINE:  Bill & Ted at 50 Years Not Counting!

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Thirty years after the original Valley Boy dudes hit the big screen with immortality, a third movie is in the works, with principal photography starting this summer. Bill and Ted had one excellent time in their youth.

Not a big fan back then, it is always interesting to re-visit a story with the originals having aged well, or not well. We recently returned to Deadwood after fifteen years. Now we are going back to bogus San Dimas, California, to see how teen idols are living at age 50.

It may not be pretty. Alex Winter has not flourished quite the way John Wick/ Keanu Reeves has.

We were curious as to how they can update the tale: it seems that George Carlin has fallen victim to the Grim Reaper, but the Reaper of movie 2 will return to visit the boys.

It seems that they have wasted their lives! What a surprise!

And now they are facing the music of old age: can they finally write a hit song? The film shall be Bill and Ted Face the Music, more or less. It’s written by the same man who gave us the original insipid twosome.

Music may save the world. Good grief! talk about big expectations.

They have given our intrepid dudes marriages with daughters who look just like their fathers. Hmmm. We don’t know what other genes have been passed.

The film won’t come out for a year, but the dudes will have Ted’s father (with Alaskan military school threats long gone) and Bill’s stepmother (likely still hot for her stepson).

It comes out next year. Until then, we have only to return to Keanu and Alex in their heydays—in two ridiculously funny movies where they show no brains in a historical laugh-riot.

We can hardly wait for the summer of 2020 with its hindsight.

John Wick Chapter 2 Comedy of Year

DATELINE:  Androgynous Villains Ruby Rose & Riccardo Scamarcio

Ruby Rose & Riccardo Scamarcio

Keanu Reeves is hilarious as the hitman in John Wick 2.  If you don’t believe this movie is a comedy, you have no sense of the ridiculous.

We lost track of how many people Wick kills at the Caracalla Baths, among other notable settings. It becomes utterly preposterous amid the stunning scenery. We also enjoyed a shootout in the subway with silencers so that the bustling crowds have no idea the hitmen are trying to do each other in.

Of course, one of the great set pieces is the homage, or parody, of Orson Welles’s mirror shootout in Lady from Shanghai, done here in super-exaggeration.

We are also bemused by the various androgynous killers after Keanu, especially the so-called woman (Ruby Rose) posing as a boyish killer. We laughed at Reeves buying guns at a secret shoppe like he was ordering bottles of wine for a big party.

The film is a flamboyant hoot, populated by a bunch of cameo star roles, from John Leguizamo to Laurence Fishburne and Ian McShane.

When Keanu walks down those streets of New York City, he discovers nearly every other person on the street is a professional hitman. It defies anything but laughter.

Wick is a sentimental guy who goes bananas when his dog is killed, or his car is stolen with a birthday card in the glovebox from his deceased girlfriend.

This is a big, glossy picture, filled with set pieces set around the globe with Keanu as some kind of mobster version of Jason Bourne.

We generally don’t like killings, car chases, and explosions. Yes, the film does seem to go too far with a nightclub massacre, reminiscent of the Pulse club down in Florida last year.

Other than that, the violence becomes so mindless that you figure it is like watching the latest news reports about mass shootings in (you name the location). No one blames these kind of movies nowadays for glorifying violence, or inspiring a view that life is cheap and easy to throw away.

John Wick Chapter 2 is merely a symptom of the world we live in today. Laugh it off.

Keanu & the Whole Truth

DATELINE:  Witness for the Defense

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This courtroom thriller used to be the sort of movie that was marketed by saying, “No one will be seated during the final five minutes.”

You may be cynical and contend that this is bargain-basement Agatha Christie without a witness for the prosecution coming to the surprise.

Keanu Reeves is a young, hotshot attorney, sort of like Jose Baez who is presently defending Aaron Hernandez in Boston. For Ramsey (Keanu), his client is a 17-year old wealthy scion with a bad case of affluenza. He is being tried for killing his legal whiz father.

If you think the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree, you would revise your opinion when you discover within the first few minutes of the film that Jim Belushi plays the murdered pop.

We thought that made it an easy call of justified homicide.

But, just hold on, all you armchair detectives. Keanu Reeves may be ruthless in his legal life, but he has a couple of roadblocks in his way: including his client (Gabriel Basso) as the clever suspect and Gugu Mbatha-Raw as his second seat assistant lawyer. She’s hit with a bad case of ethics.

Keanu’s character contends that everyone lies in court—and apparently outside it.

Director Courtney Hunt acquits herself with a taut and tidy crime drama that has more red herrings than an Agatha Christie story. It’s actually written by Elia Kazan’s son (using a pseudonym to hide the truth).

We always enjoy watching the double-crosser being double-crossed. So will you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wicked Wick, Sticky Wicket

 

 DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP

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When those teenage heartthrobs of the ‘80s come back as middle-aged mean, you better look out.

Keanu Reeves, one time pantywaist, is now tougher than dirt. His new film John Wick reincarnates him, raises him from the dead, and breathes new life into an old actor.  John Wick is a familiar movie about a retired killer for the Russian mob that should be the dog that you let sleep. When some inconsiderate minor league mobsters pick on him and kill his puppy, they make him return to form. And, that means he is a one-man superhuman wrecking machine.

Oh, we’ve seen it before—in fact, in The Equalizer just last month. He can clear a room of deadwood before it’s dead.

With a cast of familiar faces (Ian McShane, Willem Dafoe, John Leguizamo, etc.), we have a movie so intensely cool that you will need to fan yourself at the half-way mark.

John Wick apparently is a candle in the wind that everyone recognizes. His friends simply defer and step aside. His enemies won’t have time.

Though you’ve seen the dance steps before, they are done with style and panache again. The old wine is now in a new bottle, perhaps a franchise movie.

Reeves is so laconic you may start to become giddy with his no-nonsense mechanical killer. We still can’t figure out why these sort of movies are entertaining. Violence and kill count are astronomical, but it works on a plane or dimension that string theory can only dream about.

Time flies when you’re counting corpses left in John Wick’s wake. Director Chad Stahelski already has the sequel on the drawing board.