My freshman year of college, at a small school in the middle of some corn fields in Indiana, I was placed in a room directly next to the RA’s. Some might consider this troubling, as if the presence of the nosy, finger-wagging RA’s would limit my nascent college experiences, but it didn’t take long to realize that the RA was a pretty awesome guy who, though mindful of his role as partial enforcer of the rules, nevertheless wanted everyone to have a lot of fun, himself included.
His name is Derek Kolstad, a Midwesterner like myself. Even though Derek was a business major it was clear that his main interest was movies. He had a big TV in his room (if I may date myself, I believe these were still the days of VCR’s), and quite often after I finished studying I ended up in Derek’s room watching The Simpson’s, Saturday Night Live, or Derek’s choice of movie for the night. It was on Derek’s couch that I first watched Silence of the Lambs, The Shining, and too many others to list.
I lost contact with Derek after I finished school, though I do fondly remember that he showed up at my graduation and gave me a big smiling hug. Eventually, a couple years back, I found him on Facebook. It turns out he moved to Hollywood and had been writing scripts. There were a couple small, B-level successes, and then this past year year news broke that he’d landed a big one. The movie is called John Wick, and I saw it last night alongside a couple friends who also lived in the dorms with me.
(Let me pause a moment and acknowledge what a wonderful world I inhabit, one where I’m able to go to the movies, in Seattle, with two friends, also Midwesterners, each of whom I’ve now known for over half my life, all of us watching a movie written by our college RA. Nuts.)
The short, simple review is this: John Wick is a well done, fast-paced action movie that’s very entertaining to watch. There are lots of great stunts, plenty of violence ((For some strange curious bizarre reason, there was a family in the theater alongside me that included a 6-yo girl and her pre-teen sister. I honestly checked my ticket to make sure I had the right movie and theater, because in case the R-rating didn’t make it clear (or a simple short Google search), this movie is full of people getting shot in the head. The long-and-short here is that you shouldn’t take 6-yo’s to this movie, and if I’d been more assertive I would’ve gotten her name so I could start contributions to her impending psychotherapy fund.)), and a story that convincingly depicts a hit-man’s underworld of crime, brutality and even rules (Yes, hit-men, like pirates, live by rules, and when the rules are broken, and faith is disrupted, there are dire consequences).
There are a couple memorable scenes, especially a fun fight sequence in a night-club, and there are enough lighter moments of comedic pauses to offset the somber mood and dark hues of revenge. Say what you want about Keanu Reeves’s acting chops, the fact is he’s great in action roles, and the supporting cast includes Willem Dafoe, Ian McShane, Adrianne Palicki and others. Michael Nyqvist makes for a very solid villain who steals a couple scenes, and there are also several real cute puppies thrown in as well.
There you have it. John Wick is a very well done action movie that’s solidly entertaining, and if you’re looking for something fun to do on Saturday night, you should go check it out. I’m extremely proud of Derek for sticking with it in Hollywood, and I’m even more excited to see what he’s able to come up with next.