Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photos by Universal Pictures/YouTube and Zero Media/YouTube
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data-word-count =” 9″ > This article has actually been updated to consist of Violent Night.
The first John Wick snuck up on you. It stays the lowest-grossing movie in the franchise, the sort of film that looked like a million other actioners until you really saw it. As soon as you did, though, 2 things were clear: There were going to be a lot more John Wick movies
coming, and there were going to be a great deal of movies trying to be John Wick.
Finding the next John Wick has been a home Hollywood industry for almost a years now, to little success. (Netflix essentially can’t stop producing copycats.) But the franchise has actually been possibly most intriguingly the launch point for the 3 primary individuals behind the very first movie( and, to varying degrees, the follows up): writer Derek Kolstad and co-directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch (who was uncredited on the first film and, also, no relation). Kolstad composed the next two John Wick films; Stahelski directed them also (and the upcoming fourth movie), while Leitch moved onto a Wick-less (however extremely Wick-inspired) universe, directing big-budget Hollywood films. Okay for some stunt men with wild ideas.
But which of the non-Wick films is the best? With Violent Night (which is produced by Leitch) now out in theaters, we take a look at the films this trio have composed, directed, or produced far from the Wick Cinematic Universe. A lot of these films have the feel of a John Wick motion picture but, as you’ll see below, seldom the very same trigger. Ends up, replicating the Wick magic is just as hard for these guys as it is for everybody else– and their efforts to branch out into new terrain has actually been equally filled.
This woeful Jamie Foxx action-horror-comedy shares with John Wick a giddiness for world-building– in this case, thinking up a truth in which bloodsuckers create chaos across the San Fernando Valley, triggering the requirement for a union of clandestine vampire-hunters whose sole function is to wipe them out. Produced by Chad Stahelski– and scored by regular partner, composer Tyler Bates– Day Shift is a generally shoddy Netflix offering, including the anticipated excessive action sequences together with a glib funny bone that recommends we should not take any of this too seriously. However although Foxx and his nerdy partner Dave Franco have a few fun buddy-cop minutes, the film feels far eliminated from the wit and ingenuity of John Wick, with director J.J. Perry (who did stunt deal with the very first two Wick photos) providing a relatively generic genre flick. It states something about Day Shift that Snoop Dogg, who plays a terse, gun-toting hunter, provides the very best efficiency.
Reuniting with Brad Pitt, whom he initially dealt with on Fight Club serving as his stunt double, director David Leitch seemed to see Bullet Train as a way to break out of the Wick-ian straitjacket. And to his credit, Leitch escapes that pigeonhole … just to get trapped in another. Certainly, Bullet Train seems like a calculated study of the Tarantino/Ritchie formula, bringing together an oh-so-colorful collection of underworld operatives who are all riding the very same train, the quippy discussion flying as frenetically as the bullets. Pitt, along with excellent stars such as Brian Tyree Henry, Michael Shannon, and others, works very difficult to imitate the simple and easy cool of a Pulp Fiction, but even the fight scenes stumble upon as derivative. Leitch proves he’s got design to burn, however substance and soul are a lot more difficult to come by.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead got her Wick on with this so-so action-thriller in which she’s a badass assassin who discovers she’s been poisoned, only having 24 hours to pursue the person who eliminated her. Director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, a visual-effects artist who previously helmed the entirely forgettable The Huntsman: Winter’s War, gives Kate the correct amount of gritty, neon-lit atmosphere as Winstead handles her hand-to-hand battle with aplomb. Leitch produced the movie, which was a passable Netflix throwaway hindered by dopey B-movie conventions. (Our steely hero Kate is burdened a sassy young woman, played by Miku Martineau, whom she ends up needing to secure– and, eventually, bond with.) But as compelling as Winstead remains in the function– particularly as Kate gets weaker over the course of the film due to the poison slowly sapping her strength– Kate never feels like more than a Frankenstein-esque patchwork of familiar plot points and foreseeable story twists. (Spoiler alert: There’s a prominent actor in an extremely small supporting function, a clear tip that he’s in fact more important to the narrative than we’re at first led to believe.) Go in with low expectations and maybe you will not be too disappointed.
If absolutely nothing else, Dwayne Johnson appears positively elated to be in a Fast and Furious movie that doesn’t include Vin Diesel. And for a little while, this spinoff promises to be an enjoyable lark, following the quarreling Hobbs (Johnson) and Shaw (Jason Statham) as they hesitantly team up to beat the evil, superpowered terrorist Brixton (Idris Elba). A year after directing the commercially successful Deadpool 2, Leitch further steps far from the stripped-down carnage of John Wick and Atomic Blonde for a more extensive suite of action set pieces implied to honor the increasingly ludicrous trouble of the Quick and Furious series. While doing so, though, he loses some of his character. There’s no shame in that– unique filmmakers get drained of their essence all the time once they sign on to a big, impersonal franchise– however Hobbs & & Shaw is so much empty back-and-forth bantering and just-okay phenomenon that the motion picture seems like a missed opportunity, especially considering how amusing Johnson and Statham can be with the right product. This isn’t it, although it is a kick to see Vanessa Kirby steal the photo from her even more well-known co-stars as Shaw’s powerful sis.
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The concept could not be simpler: Make Santa an ass-kicking grump, then toss him into a Die Hard– meets– House Alone action flick in which the dude with the white beard finds himself trapped in an abundant family’s fancy substance that’s been taken over by bad guys on Christmas Eve. Playing St. Nick, David Harbour resembles a mix of John Wick and John McClane, delivering wry one-liners when he’s not busting skulls. Violent Night ( which was produced by Leitch’s company, 87North) eventually describes why Santa Claus is such an elite combating device, which is one of the film’s more rewarding surprises, and in between the intensifying violence and sneaks-up-on-you heartwarming message about valuing the magic of the season, this one-joke premise winds up being a little better than anticipated. Put it by doing this: The Santa in Wonder on 34th Street didn’t eliminate nearly this lots of baddies.
Leitch might have appeared a weird choice to helm the Deadpool sequel, especially since director Tim Miller had helped make the first film such a substantial hit. However when there were imaginative differences in between Miller and star Ryan Reynolds– a fight Miller was clearly not going to win– Leitch stepped in. Deadpool 2 has some strong action series, although it doesn’t always feel like a John Wick film. In truth, Reynolds stated that Leitch was employed since he could make a small budget look bigger– which holds true, however possibly not the best use of the John Wick ability. Still, Leitch does a professional task– now that he’s shown he can do this, it’s most likely not worth his while to do another Deadpool installment. He and Reynolds both appear to comprehend this; the next follow up is directed by regular Reynolds collaborator Shawn Levy, which is much better for Leitch and undoubtedly worse for Deadpool 3.
Derek Kolstad has written every John Wick– and just John Wick films, with this exception– because the first one in 2014. (For what it deserves, he isn’t credited on 2023’s John Wick 4.) And based on the evidence of No one, it is fair to state that he, uh, might be a bit of a one-trick pony. No matter: This fun pandemic-release actioner works mainly because of the stunt casting of Bob Odenkirk as the mild-mannered papa who’s secretly a callous assassin, even if Nobody is a little bit excessive of a Wick clone. (When once again, we have actually got the Russian bad people, the deadpan one-liners, the ruthless set pieces, even the One Good Man who has been pressed too far.) That said, it turns out that watching Saul Goodman beat the life out of individuals for two hours is non-stop amusing. You can not take your eyes off Odenkirk, although they probably shouldn’t push their luck with a follow up.
Keep In Mind Aeon Flux? Charlize Theron is such a natural action star– physically imposing and striking, naturally, but likewise with an intensity that’s challenging to match– that when that movie imploded on the tarmac back in 2005, you wondered if she ‘d ever get another chance at it. Once Mad Max: Fury Road took off, led a lot by Theron’s Furiosa, getting her own John Wick was the logical next step. Enter Atomic Blonde, which was also Leitch’s first solo directing gig after going uncredited together with Stahelski on John Wick. Theron’s capability to at the same time project icy aloofness and a wounded heart– together with her considerable ability at punching people in the face– is pretty perfect as Lorraine, a double-crossed spy who needs to fight her escape of all sorts of difficult scenarios. The plot itself fades into the background, but Theron’s fight scenes scorch into the memory banks, both lithe and negligent, gloriously choreographed yet sloppily unforeseeable. Can we get a John Wick– Lorraine team-up?
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Grierson & Leitch compose routinely about the movies and host a podcast on film. Follow them on Twitter or visit their site.