Boom, Headshot! John Wick and the Importance of Taking Out Your Cinematic Enemies
I used to watch The Blacklist. I had to stop due to the constant head-shaking and disbelief that trained FBI agents could really be that incompetent. It made me too angry. Part of it was the writing, part of it was the acting, but all of it was infuriating. The Blacklist is just one example, though, of the idiot that doesn’t think to take out the enemy/pursuant/generic bad guy in a fictional world. It’s rampant in both film and television. It’s not a tricky concept: make sure that the bad guy doesn’t get back up. Do not give that person a second chance. If you’ve got solid writing, then you don’t need to take the easy way out of letting your villain get back up to surprise the hero.
You know which movie nailed this concept? John Wick. This film got so much right: it’s peppy, it’s action-packed, it has heart, and most importantly, it does not fuck around when it comes to taking care of business. Some have criticized Keanu Reeves for being the lead, but honestly, that stems from the dude stereotype he’s (unfairly, in my opinion) picked up over the years. The man did a great job. Case in point: upon receiving a note from his late wife, he presses it to his nose. Call it direction, call it scripting, but he broke my heart in that moment. I got attached and wanted good things for the character John. And he made me love the character even more when he had the brains to take out his enemies with a shot to the head.
|Good aim AND knows how to wear the hell out of a suit.|
When John begins his mission to get revenge against Iosef (played to crap-weasel perfection by Alfie Allen), he prepares himself with weaponry and quiet resolve. He then proceeds to take out attackers, enforcers and assorted mobsters with precision, skill and old-fashioned common sense. John does not suffer survivors. He takes people out when they get in his way, and he doesn’t give them a second chance to bite him in the ass. They get between one and two bullets in the head apiece, save for the odd person or two that gets fatally stabbed or a snapped neck. There are only two instances in this film when he allows someone to walk away: Francis, the doorman of the nightclub, and Perkins. In the instance of Francis, he offers a night off. This comes off as a professional courtesy rather than an act of misguided mercy (memo to the writers of the sequel: if you make Francis the big bad wolf of the second film, we’re going to have some words). As for the sparing of Perkins, he operates within the ethics of the hotel for hitmen: no killing on neutral ground. He defends himself, incapacitates his attacker, then leaves her to be dealt with by management. That’s not stupid; that’s a consumate professional. In the end, even Perkins get the headshot treatment from hotel management. She won’t be back for a half-baked sequel.
|Nice knowing you, Perkins.|
It’s extraordinarily refreshing to see a film that doesn’t go for the easy out. I was surprised at first because it’s been so long since someone actually had the smarts to make sure that the person trying to kill you is really dead. No Michael Myers-style revivals. No “I’ll leave a survivor to tell the tale”m mistakes. Nope. There are no cheap scares or surprises, no last-minute gun battles stemming from the mistake of leaving a pulse. We know that John is going to take out his attackers. He is efficient and does not leave anything to chance. He does not believe in mercy. This has kept him alive and makes him the top of his field. You don’t earn a nickname like Baba Yaga by leaving a sloppy mistake. John takes out the boogeymen, one headshot at a time. It’s about damn time.