Sometimes you find yourself stuck at a party you don't want to be at.
As a rule, I don't do action films very well. If an action movie has a great story line or if it attempts to engage in a meaningful way (even a very small way) with significant questions, I do better. I loved The Matrix (although, technically, I guess The Matrix is more accurately categorized as sci-fi than as action). I guess what I'm saying is...I don't like gratuitous violence. Watching violent movies for the sake of watching violence does not make sense to me. On the contrary, it seriously disturbs me on many levels - physically, emotionally, spiritually, socially.
Yesterday evening I came home from a meeting to find my family watching the movie John Wick. The first thing anyone said to me when I walked in the door was not "Hi, honey!" - or - "How'd the meeting go?" - or - "Have you had any dinner? Can I get you something to eat?" Instead, I was greeted with: "Oh? You're home already? I though you'd be out a least a couple hours later?" I guess I should have taken that as a warning, some kind of disclaimer. Maybe as a sideways confession: "Guys, Mom's home! We are so busted!"
I fixed a plate of dinner and sat down to watch John Wick with the rest of the family. They watch my movies, so I should make more of an effort to watch theirs, right? Besides, our house has a very open floor plan, so I had nowhere to hide away to read or write and sleep would have been impossible.
The movie had just started, so I hadn't missed any significant plot development. If I had sat through the entire movie with my eyes closed and my ears plugged, I still would not have missed any significant plot development...because there wasn't any. After nearly two hours of blood splatters and a body count that grew faster than bacteria in a petri dish, I was left asking, "Guys, what was the point? I don't get it."
To which one of member of the viewing audience replied, "There isn't a point. It's just fun."
"There isn't a point." Except that everything has a point. The writer of a book, the director of a movie, the composer of a piece of music, the potter in the clay studio...people create because they want to communicate something to others.
I didn't get a satisfactory answer to my question. I went to bed and mentally talked my heart rate down from heart-attack mode and struggled to calm my frantic brain - What was the point? What was the message? What was this movie trying to say? - so that I could go to sleep. (Movies like this distress me, remember?)
This morning, I looked for answers to my questions in online reviews.
Paul Verhoeven, over at junkee.com, wrote in his article "In Praise of 'John Wick,' Angry Keanu Reeves, and the Intensely Gritty Action Movie"-
"[John Wick] is a very serviceable, ridiculously enjoyable, unashamedly B-grade action film which plays less like a revenge flick, and more like exploitation cinema on steroids...In John Wick, we're subjected to a film that is utterly classless, but totally aware of how classless it is; it takes place in the blingiest, skeeviest [skeevy: morally or physically repulsive] yet most polished nightclubs, and it's filled with tacky cars and tackier music..." - Paul Verhoeven, "In Praise of 'John Wick,' Angry Keanu Reeves, and the Intensely Gritty Action Movie"; May 18, 2017. (Read Verhoeven's entire review HERE.)
Note: Paul Verhoeven was praising this movie. Just in case you missed that.
Over at The Atlantic, Sophie Gilbert, also in praise of John Wick, wrote:
"John Wick kills, by my count, 78 people in the movie's 93 minutes, and he doesn't just kill them, he toys with them first like a cat with a mouse, delivering a stray bullet in the shoulder or a kick to the kneecap before offing his targets with two shots to the head, assassination-style. The movie's tagline is 'Don't Set Him Off.' but it really should be 'This Idiot Killed My Puppy and Now Everyone Must Die.'" - Sophie Gilbert, "John Wick: An Idiot Killed His Puppy and Now Everyone Must Die"; October 24, 2014. (Read Gilbert's entire review HERE.)
Strange praise, indeed.
After spending a good chunk of my morning reading action-movie connoisseurs and experts in an attempt to better understand the point behind the movie John Wick, here is what I have concluded:
There isn't a point.
This is not a movie about good vs. evil: everyone in the movie is bad - there are no good guys, not even John Wick himself. It is not a movie about healing from brokenness or grief: the movie concludes with no healing, only a hint of more pointless violence to come in a possible sequel. It is not a movie about overcoming a terrible past: nobody overcomes anything, and John Wick ends up right back where he started.
If there is a point to this movie, it is this: watching people get slashed and shot up and tortured and beaten to death with steel pipes is fun. At least, it is fun for some people. In fact, some people even enjoy munching popcorn and sipping soda while they watch another person get dismembered onscreen.
Which leaves me back where I was late last night when the movie credits finally rolled: "I don't get it."
Obviously, gratuitous violence - excessive gratuitous violence - feeds something in the human soul. (John Wick: Chapter 2 was released in February of this year.)
I am inclined to think that what this kind of violence feeds is our depraved nature. It grieves me that people I love think this kind of depravity is fun.
We are all depraved, every single one of us. But why someone would want to feed that depravity? I don't get it.
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