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John Wick

Keanu Reeves is no stranger to action.  Star of ‘Speed’ and ‘The Matrix’ trilogy, he has proven his skill for high-octane fisticuffs.  ‘John Wick’ successfully draws on his established persona.  A fast, furious and relentless ride, it uses the stripped-down story to good effect.  Enhanced by Chad Stahelski’s energetic direction, those looking for excitement should find much to enjoy.

 

John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is a retired hit-man recovering from his wife’s recent death.  Finding solace with their cherished dog, when his canine companion is killed by thugs related to vicious Russian gangster Viggo (Michael Nygvist) a deadly chain reaction is ignited.  Tearing the streets in a swathe of bloody vengeance, Wick swiftly moves against those daring to cross him with lethal force.

 

Although not a great actor, Keanu Reeves equips himself admirably in ‘John Wick’.  Reeves’ acting parameters may be limited but he has chosen a role effectively utilising his range.  You feel his character’s rage at his foes and the despair at the loss of his wife.  Using his wits and heavy artillery, his mind is his most powerful weapon.  Staheslki wisely builds up Wick’s reputation amongst his adversaries fearing his retribution.

 

Action is what everyone wants and ‘John Wick’ delivers.  Each punch and gun-play is amazingly shot without being too gratuitously grisly.  Sequences logically flow with ease as the tension and dead bodies increase.  The shadowy world of assassins in which Wick thrives adds an intriguing layer and something which could be further built upon.  This sinister universe is effectively captured by the cinematography evoking New York’s mean streets.

 

‘John Wick’ is one of the few movies where you hope a sequel is made.  There are plenty of avenues the character could go down with this stylish entry proving the art of war can be deadly in the hands of any gifted soldier.

 

Rating out of 10:  7 

 

 

 

Pride

‘The Full Monty’ has a lot to answer for.  Charting a group of British working-class gents stripping off in defiant solidarity, it spawned a slew of imitators.  ‘Brassed Off’, ‘Billy Elliot’ and others have used the recipe to great success.  The character’s struggles under the effects of Conservative government rule gave them qualities viewers could relate.  ‘Pride’ takes up this baton with ease.  Using a slice of history to tell its tale, it is a familiar but fun exploration of community spirit.

 

Affected by a huge miners strike during 1984, miner’s families struggled.  Seeing this hardship were a gay and lesbian group determined to help.  Among them were Jonathan (Dominic West) and Gethin (Andrew Scott).  Forming an alliance with a mining village whose inhabitants include Cliff (Bill Nighy) and Hefina (Imelda Staunton), both sides fought for equality for all persuasions.

 

Filled with clichés and overt sentimentality, ‘Pride’ usually would be best forgotten.  Whilst the overly earnest script occasionally grates, the heart is in the right place.  Achieving good results are the multi-layered characters and the evocation of a recent era.  Homosexuals and miners were persecuted with a vengeance back in 80’s Britain, with the mutual demonization forging common ground.  Although prejudices were found from either side, they learnt to mutually understand their respective viewpoints.

 

Matthew Warchus weaves some insightful threads within the formulaic screenplay.   Whilst occasionally this formula gets in the way of a story based on true events, it has enough authenticity to maintain interest.  ‘Pride’ is a little too long to be totally engaging as it meanders towards a predictable conclusion, even if it highlights issues pertinent to today.  In some ways ‘Pride’ adds a wistfulness during viewing as it reflects a time when people readily questioned authority and agitated for change.  The constant resolve to stand by beliefs is well realised with both sides portrayed with astute sympathy.

 

Whilst ‘Pride’ follows a very familiar pattern, it provides an interesting snapshot.  A lesson it teaches is to never just accept enforced hardship.  In this respect it has a relevancy to the current generation to have respect for themselves and fight for a dignity ‘Pride’s’ characters continually fought for.

 

Rating out of 10:  6