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Face-Off: Jack Reacher vs. John Wick

08.23.2016by: Brian Bitner
In our previous Face-Off, I gave GLADIATOR the slight edge over BRAVEHEART, and I could not have been happier to see the vast majority of you disagree! In all honesty, I was trying to be as objective as possible, but I personally also prefer William Wallace's tale over that of General Maximus. Perhaps I'll start letting some subjectivity seep into future match-ups...

This week, with JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK amping up its marketing, we're looking at two of the newest additions to the sub-sub-genre of guys with J-names taking on the world. THE BOURNE IDENTITY's Jason Bourne and CASINO ROYALE's James Bond helped usher in a new close-combat style of action film, and 24's Jack Bauer kept the world safe on the small screen, but it's the titular characters of JACK REACHER and JOHN WICK who have captured our adrenaline-filled hearts in recent years. Of course, many people's favorite close combat action movie of the past decade is TAKEN, but Bryan Mills doesn't conform to the J-name format, because Liam Neeson doesn't play by your goddamn rules.
LEAD
Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher. While Cruise brings his signature charm, presence, and all around badassery to the film, Reacher isn't a terribly interesting or dynamic character. You could swap him out with just about any one of Cruise's other action leads, and no one would notice.
Keanu Reeves as John Wick. Unlike with Cruise, you never know what quality of performance to expect from Reeves. He's perfectly cast here, though, as the simplicity of the stoic yet emotional character works in his favor. Also he looks like a total badass.
SUPPORTING CAST
Rosamund Pike as Helen
Richard Jenkins as Rodin
David Oyelowo as Emerson
Werner Herzog as The Zec
Jai Courtney as Charlie
Robert Duvall as Cash

JOHN WICK certainly has a larger and more varied main cast, but the result is few of them have much time to shine. Also, Werner Herzog is the most terrifying person on the planet.
Michael Nyqvist as Viggo Tarasov
Alfie Allen as Iosef Tarasov
Willem Dafoe as Marcus
Adrianne Palicki as Ms. Perkins
Bridget Moynahan as Helen
John Leguizamo as Aurelio
Ian McShane as Winston
Lance Reddick as Charon
Dean Winters as Avi
PLOT
When five innocent people are gunned down by an ex-army sniper, Jack Reacher appears to help indict the alleged shooter, only to eventually team up with the soldier's lawyer to prove his innocence- without getting killed in the process.

JACK REACHER is a nice blend of action flick and crime drama, with moments of suspense peppered both in and out of the action scenes and some nice turns along the way.
When Russian gang members rob John Wick and kill the dog his deceased wife gave to him, the talented assassin comes out of retirement to kill everyone.

The simplicity of the plot here is refreshing, but it keeps the story from being anything special. It's basically just TAKEN without anyone to rescue. Also, the hotel for professionals is a cool idea but even for JOHN WICK feels like a bit too much.
QUOTES
"See, the D.A. likes the needle, whereas me, I like to see a man like you live a long life - with all your teeth knocked out. Passed around till a brother can't tell your fart from a yawn."

"Weird meeting you."
"Likewise."

"Remember, you wanted this."

"There are four types of people who join the military. For some, it's a family trade. Others are patriots, eager to serve. Next, you have those who just need a job. Then there's the kind who want a legal means of killing other people."

"That's John Doe Number Two. The man on the grassy knoll. The thing under the bed. They call him the Zec."

"I was in prison in Siberia. I spent my first winter wearing a dead man's coat. A hole in one pocket. I chewed these fingers off before the frostbite could turn to gangrene. These I gave up to avoid working in the sulfur mine. That is how I survived when so many others did not. A man this rare can always be of use. So show me. Show me you are rare. Show me you'll do anything to survive."

"Always the bullet. I don't understand."

"I'm just a guy who wants to be left alone."

"Now look at your friends. Now look at my face. Do you ever want to see me again?"
"No way."
"Am I stealing your car?"
"Use it as long as you like."
"You're very kind."

"Imagine you've spent your whole life in other parts of the world being told every day you're defending freedom. And finally you decide you've had enough. Time to see what you've given up your whole life for. Maybe get some of that freedom for yourself. Look at the people. Now tell me which ones are free. Free from debt. Anxiety. Stress. Fear. Failure. Indignity. Betrayal. How many wish that they were born knowing what they know now? Ask yourself how many would do things the same way over again... and how many would live their lives like me."

"You think I'm a hero? I am not a hero."

"What about the truth? What about getting the guys who really did this? What about bringing him to justice?"
"I just did."

"There's this guy. He's a kind of cop, at least he used to be. He doesn't care about proof, he doesn't care about the law, he only cares about what's right."
"That 'f*ckin' nobody' is John Wick. He once was an associate of ours. They call him 'Baba Yaga.'"
"The Boogeyman?"
"Well, John wasn't exactly the Boogeyman. He was the one you sent to kill the f*ckin' Boogeyman."

"John is a man of focus, commitment, sheer will... something you know very little about. I once saw him kill three men in a bar... with a pencil. With a f*ckin' pencil. Then suddenly one day he asked to leave. It's over a woman, of course. So I made a deal with him. I gave him an impossible task. A job no one could have pulled off. The bodies he buried that day laid a foundation of what we are now. And then, my son, a few days after his wife died, you steal his car and kill his f*ckin' dog."

"Evenin', John."
"Evenin', Jimmy. Noise complaint?"
"Noise complaint. You, uh, workin' again?"
"No, I was just sortin' some stuff out."
"Ah, well... I'll leave you be then. Good night, John."
"Good night, Jimmy."

"I'd like to make a dinner reservation for twelve."

"Good to see you, John."
"Charlie."
"You look good. And here I'd feared you'd left all this behind."

"How good is your laundry?"
"I'm sorry to say that no one is that good."
"No... I thought not."

"They know you're coming."
"Of course... But it won't matter."

"When Helen died, I lost everything. Until that dog arrived on my doorstep, a final gift from my wife. In that moment, I received some semblance of hope- an opportunity to grieve unalone. And your son took that from me... stole that from me... KILLED THAT FROM ME! People keep asking if I'm back and I haven't really had an answer. But now, yeah, I'm thinkin' I'm back. So you can either hand over your son or you can die screaming alongside him!"

"It was just a f*ck'n-"

"What happened, John?... We were professionals... Civilized."
"Do I look civilized to you?"

"I'll say this, John. They sure as f*ck broke the mold with you."

"Be seeing you, John."
"Yeah... Be seeing you."
DIRECTING
Christopher McQuarrie handles JACK REACHER with care, keeping us in suspense and entertained in equal measure. There's not much exciting about the film's direction, and the pacing of starts to drag around the end of the second act, but that's a pretty common issue.
There are certainly times when JOHN WICK feels like it's trying too hard, with overly dramatic moments, slow-mo walks toward the camera, and those garishly hideous subtitles, but for their first time behind the camera, Chad Stahelski and David Leitch mostly deliver a gorgeous, solid film.
ACTION
It's pretty cool that Reacher doesn't use a gun until the final fifteen minutes of the film (at that point, though, why not have him just go all the way?), and the bar fight, car chase (including the quiet bus escape), and final shootout are all moments to be remembered.
This, of course, is where JOHN WICK shines. The stealth entries, close combat, gunplay, and overall craziness of the action make these scenes and ultimately the film as a whole insanely watchable and fun.
MUSIC
Joe Kraemer delivers a fairly traditional score for JACK REACHER. There's a nice military motif to go with the story, but otherwise there's very little to write home about here.
Between Tyler Bates & Joel J. Richard's score and the occasional appearance of existing pieces, the music of JOHN WICK is everything you could want for an action flick with balls this big.
BOX OFFICE & ACCOLADES
IMDB: 7
Rotten Tomatoes: 62% (Audience Score: 67%)
Metacritic: 50 (User Score: 6.3)
Domestic Total Gross: $80,070,736
IMDB: 7.2
Rotten Tomatoes: 85% (Audience Score: 79%)
Metacritic: 68 (User Score: 8.2)
Domestic Total Gross: $43,037,835
JOHN WICK
JACK REACHER is a good movie, but it's also a safe movie. It doesn't really add much to the genre we haven't seen before from either a story or style perspective. JOHN WICK may not be a masterpiece, but it furthers the conversation of what an action film can be, balancing a music video style of filmmaking with some genuine moments- reminiscent of some of Tony Scott's best work. Either way, it'll be interesting to see where these characters go next, with JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK hitting the cinema this fall and JOHN WICK: CHAPTER TWO smashing its way into theaters in early 2017!



Agree? Disagree? Which do you prefer?
POST YOUR CHOICE BELOW!

If you have a suggestion for a future Face-Off, let us know below or send me an email at brianbitner@joblo.com.

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