By Matt Fleming and Jarrod Jones. This is the ANTI-MONITOR podcast, where yeah, we’re thinking we’re back. This week, Jarrod & Birdy celebrate the release of ‘John Wick: Chapter 2’ with a rapid-fire assessment of ‘John Wick’. Later on they play a friendly game of “Keanu Reeves Movie or Dime Store Romance Novel?” 

As always, be wary for spoilers throughout, and please enjoy.

Image: Summit Entertainment

ANTI-MONITOR — MATT: Modern action films have become a bit anomalous from their historic predecessors. Whereas the ‘80s were the genre’s heyday, gifting moviegoers with such fare as Predator, Die Hard, and First Blood (plus countless more classics and ripoffs), the last decade plus has seen the advent of shaky-cam adrenaline trips with that have been mostly sound and fury. Leave it to a couple former stuntmen/stunt coordinators to finally demonstrate that action movies need a semblance of balance between story and bombast to achieve optimal effect. With 2014’s John Wick, the team of Chad Stahelski and David Leitch proved not only that an action movie could still deliver a total-package flick, but also that Keanu Reeves remained a damn action juggernaut.

The trio first came together during the breakthrough Matrix trilogy and they may have eclipsed that beast with John Wick. There are no shaky cams, no fancy effects; just headshots, fistfights, and a story that elicits sincere empathy. Not since the tale of John Rambo has a tale of revenge felt so justified, both heart-rending and visceral in tandem. Keanu Reeves delivers a top-five performance as the man who wanted out, yet was dragged back in. The supporting cast is outlandishly good, the visuals are beautifully bloody and coherent, and the story is actually discernible. There are very few perfect action flicks, and while this ain’t perfect, John Wick is a giant step in the right direction.

ANTI-MONITOR — JARROD: It had been fifteen years since Keanu Reeves made The Matrix, and even though the then 50 year old actor has some gray peppering his beard these days, Reeves proved that he still has it. Whether he’s flying through the air or driving hard-ass muscle cars through a hail of gunfire, Reeves truly backed the right horse with John Wick. Of all the action films I’ve seen (and, my god, have I seen a few) this is easily among the best, so long as you don’t count anything with a superhero in it.

It’s silly enough without being dumb, and it maintains that precarious balance with grace, wit and charm. As a throwback to a much simpler time with far more complicated practical stunt work, John Wick packs a visceral punch with no room for relief. When it isn’t offering utter bloodshed, Keanu Reeves’ latest keeps the witticisms firing as often as the artillery. For the cinematically weary, John Wick is a film that offers respite. Required viewing.

Image: Summit Entertainment

CONSENSUS: Fast, fun, and most importantly, concise, John Wick is pure, undiluted escapism. 8 out of 10

Before: “’Deadpool’ gave the superhero genre (and Fox) a wedgie,” here.

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