John Wick (4K Blu-ray) (2014)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 5-Apr-2017

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Audio Commentary
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Don't F*#% With John Wick
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Calling in the Cavalry
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Destiny of a Collective
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-The Assassin's Code
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-The Red Circle
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-N.Y.C. Noir
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2014
Running Time 101:11
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By David Leitch
Chad Stahelski
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Keanu Reeves
Michael Nyqvist
Alfie Allen
Willem Dafoe
Dean Winters
Adrianne Palicki
John Leguizamo
Ian McShane
Lance Reddick
Omer Barnea
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $19.95 Music Tyler Bates
Joel J. Richard


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Atmos
English Dolby TrueHD 7.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby Digital 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 2160p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Spanish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

††† Letís not mince words here: John Wick is the best action movie of 2014. Confidently belying its modest budget, the movie easily surpasses that yearís CGI-infested blockbusters and superhero offerings, and even tops more old-school actioners like The Equalizer and Fury. Here is a lean, adrenaline-charged 100-minute thrill ride which understands economical storytelling, disposing of superfluous narrative tangents to focus on what matters. John Wick is a B-movie at heart, and on the surface may look like an unremarkable straight-to-video endeavour, but the execution is flawless, with miraculously choreographed action scenes and exceptional stunt-work elevating this brutal revenge flick into the stratosphere. Add to this a spot-on performance from Keanu Reeves, an R-rating and a well-judged screenplay, and this is one badass movie. Itís pure ecstasy that action fans will go gaga over.

††† A retired underworld assassin for the Russian mafia, John Wick (Reeves) tragically loses his wife to cancer, but she leaves him one last gift: a puppy for companionship. As John struggles to work through the grieving process, his life is thrown into turmoil again when his classic car is stolen and his pup is killed by Iosef (Alfie Allen), the son of powerful Russian kingpin Viggo (Michael Nyqvist). Learning of his idiot sonís actions, Viggo immediately realises that his entire operation is now under threat of being obliterated by the most dangerous man alive, and tries to come to a peaceful arrangement with John. However, John is focused on retribution, prompting Viggo to call in as many heavily armed men as he can to take down the killing machine as quickly as possible.

††† John Wick is one of the purest action flicks of recent years, but its taut disposition doesnít mean that plot is neglected. On the contrary, the action-free opening act is a masterpiece of economy, establishing Wickís character and situation mostly through images rather than words. But once Wick is wronged and the beast is unleashed, the flick roars to life, and the result is something to behold. Too many action movies are bogged down by humdrum love stories or other attempts to humanise the central hero, slowing the pace to a drag and denying us the pure testosterone boost we seek. But John Wick has no need for this brand of malarkey, which is another reason why itís such a breath of fresh air. With his wife dead, the titular assassin doesnít get involved with any other women, and heís so skilled that he only rarely finds himself out of his depth.

††† Some may decry that John is too unstoppable, but Iím personally sick of seeing ďbadassĒ heroes being captured or beaten within an inch of their life. John does receive a few injuries here and there, but for the most part heís supremely confident - and I found this quality both refreshing and satisfying. Above all, itís executed in a believable fashion. Furthermore, John meets an array of friends throughout the movie who are wholly aware of his abilities and reputation. Fellow killers and even police officers are wary to engage Wick, respectfully leaving him alone as he conducts his business. Such touches give the production a gorgeous flavour, provoking a few welcome moments of dark comedy to lighten up the violent affair.

††† The sheer excellence of the action sequences cannot be overstated; they are orgasmic. John Wick denotes the directorial debut of David Leitch and Chad Stahelski, two stuntman who have evidently learned from the best during their respective careers. The shootouts here are mostly devoid of shaky-cam and rapid-fire editing, with the directors instead adopting a wonderful arrangement of smooth camera movements and some astonishingly artistic tracking shots. John Wick wears its R-rating on its sleeve, as well; itís a beautiful antithesis to all of the politically-correct PG-13 action flicks that continually inundate todayís cinematic marketplace. Loud, savagely violent and hugely satisfying, all of the movieís action scenes absolutely s*** on the likes of Live Free or Die Hard, The Expendables 3, Terminator Salvation, and the RoboCop remake. Admittedly, there are a few evident instances of digital bloodshed, but the CGI doesnít look overly phoney and itís not distracting. Rather than looking like a post-production paint job, the blood is effectively integrated into the various environments.

††† Reeves has had his ups and downs as a thespian; despite a strong performance in The Matrix, heís bloody awful in motion pictures like Dracula and Johnny Mnemonic, and heís known for being wooden. John Wick, however, plays to Reevesí strengths, showing that he has more skill than his detractors are probably willing to admit. Reeves is cut from the same mould as Jason Statham, with minimalistic dialogue and a focus on physical action scenes, and the star absolutely nails it. He needs more roles like this. Fortunately, the supporting cast is just as impressive, with the likes of Willem Dafoe, John Leguizamo and Ian McShane all hitting their marks with confidence. Nyqvist is also effective as the leader of the Russian gang, while Game of Thrones luminary Alfie Allen convinces as the daft, overconfident young man who awakens the beast within Wick.

††† John Wick plays out with the same verve as the ďone man armyĒ action movies from the 1980s, but with a contemporary polish. If you enjoyed the likes of Taken, Punisher: War Zone or Safe, you will definitely enjoy this deliriously entertaining slice of big screen escapism.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

††† John Wick was shot with Arri Alexa rigs and reportedly finished at native 4K resolution, making this a welcome and logical title for the Ultra HD format that's populated with 2K upscales. Plus, the movie is endowed with a complex colour scheme and stylish photography, which is a great fit for the more advanced UHD format. Roadshow brings this top-notch action title to 4K Blu-ray with a 2160p, HEVC/H.265-encoded image, complemented with High Dynamic Range that's encoded in HDR10. In short, it looks excellent, surpassing the standard 1080p Blu-ray in a number of areas, making it an easy upgrade for those currently able to watch 4K Blu-rays. As with many of Roadshow's 4K releases, this appears to be precisely the same disc released by Lionsgate in the United States, with identical audio and subtitle options. Not that that's a bad thing - it's just an observation.

††† Although the presentation is only placed on a 66GB disc, it easily accommodates the 101-minute movie plus the smattering of special features without exhibiting any compression-related anomalies. On that note, I was also unable to detect any encoding issues - it's all smooth sailing. And wow, what a stunner this disc truly is. From the very first shot, I noticed the slight but noticeable uptick in details and textures on everything from faces to costumes, as you would expect. Even the slightest pores in faces are brought out in close-ups, and you can still count the hairs even in medium shots. If you look hard enough for it, there is some slight source noise in some shots as to be expected from an Arri-shot digital production, but it's always refined and never distracting. Honestly, seeing the movie in 4K is like watching it again for the first time. All-round, this UHD presentation is more precisely rendered in every department, leaving nothing to be desired.

††† However, the big area where this 4K presentation improves over its 1080p counterpart is in colour and contrast, which again I noticed from the very first shot. Thanks to the wider colour gamut as well as the application of High Dynamic Range, the image looks as deep and rich as ever, sporting eye-poppingly vibrant colours and true blacks. It is a touch darker, and though blacks do look crushed in some shots, it seems deliberate and is never unsightly - the directors even talk about crushing blacks in their audio commentary. With UHD providing stronger contrast, the standard Blu-ray honestly looks muted in comparison. Jonathan Sela's cinematography is heavily discussed in the extras, and the filmmakers point out that they were aiming for a graphic novel-esque look, which they succeed in doing. Different hues and colour filters are used throughout, and the 4K disc handles everything without missing a beat. No matter the environment, the transfer is pristine and clear. Above all, the transfer appears to be true to the vision of the filmmakers, with no sort of revisionism.

††† At the time of writing, this 4K Ultra HD disc is the definitive way to experience John Wick. It looks even better than it did at the cinema thanks to the High Dynamic Range and increased resolution. Even though this is a catalogue title, it's one of my favourite 4K presentations to date. It's hard to imagine the movie looking any better, but I would be interested in seeing a Dolby Vision version.

††† There are a few subtitle options. As with the standard Blu-ray, the stylish subtitles are thankfully retained, as they're baked into the master.

††† Note: Ultra HD is a new technology, and to get the most out of it, you need the proper equipment. Beyond the obvious UHD TV and 4K Blu-ray player, you also need to upgrade to HDMI 2.0 cables which are fast enough to accommodate the high bitrate of a 4K disc, and support HDR. Some UHD televisions - as paradoxical as it sounds - don't even have HDMI 2.0 ports (buy Hisense at your own risk), so shop around before you buy. In addition to this, to get the most out of the viewing experience, your TV needs to be able to support HDR10 and/or Dolby Vision. Not all UHD TVs are created equally. Shop wisely, my friends.


Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

††† Here we have a more significant upgrade compared to the 1080p Blu-ray. Whereas Roadshow's standard BD sports a 5.1 mix, this 4K Ultra HD releases comes with a much more agreeable Dolby Atmos mix, which defaulted to a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 track on my set-up. Instantly, the upgrade in directionality and surround activity is evident compare to the standard Blu-ray. It's very precise. For instance, see the scene of John driving his car around at the thirteen-minute mark - the audio panning effect makes it sound as if the car is travelling across your living room. Helicopers seem to be flying overhead, too. And when firearms are discharged, they're precisely placed in the audioscape, making for a wholly immersive listen. The nightclub shootout is the standout in this respect.

††† Luckily, dialogue is never lost in the track - it's well-mixed and well-prioritised, and always easy to hear. The subwoofer gets plenty to do throughout the movie, accentuating each gunshot, bullet hit and car engine for maximum impact. The thumping score, as well as the various songs played throughout fill the rear channels, much like scene-specific ambience such as rain at the funeral of John's wife, or the sounds of New York City whenever characters are on the street. It's clear that despite the budget, the audio was mixed with genuine care by consummate professionals. John Wick sounds simply awesome on 4K Blu-ray.

††† Overall, this track is richer, fuller and more dynamic than the 5.1 mix on the accompanying 1080p Blu-ray. The Atmos mix is flawless, and it really does show what a lossless encode and maximum channel usage can provide. Audiofiles will definitely love this one.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

††† Unlike most 4K Ultra HD releases, the disc contains all supplements found on the standard Blu-ray. It's a strong assortment of extras, but nothing too substantial.

Audio Commentary by Filmmakers Chad Stahelski and David Leitch

† † The pair of co-directors sit down for an informative audio commentary, bestowing as much behind-the-scenes information as they possibly can. Topics include the casting of Reeves, Reeves' acting style (he constantly asks for direction to make sure he's doing his job properly), and even needing to do ADR in a rainy scene because the on-set audio was unusable. The commentary is mostly scene-specific, touching on homages to various movies (including Leon: The Professional) and the cast. Cinematographic decisions are covered as well, including lenses and framing choices, with the boys frequently mentioning their love for DOP Jonathan Sela. The world itself is touched upon, too - the directors talk about adding the opening radio broadcast to broaden the world, as well as the fact that assassins deal in mysterious coins. They were quite conscious about creating a fully-realised world, and chose not to explain every detail. If you enjoy learning about filmmaking, you'll love this track. I learned a lot about the production.

Don't F*#% With John Wick (HD; 15:17)

††† This segment should rightly be called "Don't F*#% With Keanu Reeves," as the actor engaged in extensive training in the lead-up to shooting. For four months, training was Reeves' full-time job as he learned choreography and driving. There's loads of footage of Reeves doing his training, and on-set footage showing how many of the action scenes were shot. This isn't so much a "making-of" featurette, but rather an examination of the process behind making the fight scenes and shootouts. Very worthwhile stuff.

Calling in the Cavalry (HD; 11:58)

††† Another behind-the-scenes featurette which focuses on the actors, the initial pitch, bringing in directors David and Chad, and how the movie came to be. It's interesting stuff, mixing revealing on-set footage (great to see practical blood and blank-firing weapons were used) with interviews from an array of participants.

Destiny of a Collective (HD; 6:19)

††† This next featurette is devoted to the pair of directors, David Leitch and Chad Stahelski. The pair run their own stunt studio and have worked on action movies for many years, and they talk about the challenges associated with making their directorial debut. The actors all wax lyrical about the directors, too, and there's plenty of behind-the-scenes and rehearsal footage, as to be expected.

The Assassin's Code (HD; 5:18)

††† As implied by the title, this segment is all about the world of John Wick, populated by a society of assassins. Facets of the world - including the gold coins, and the general formalities - are touched upon. Worthwhile.

The Red Circle (HD; 6:26)

††† This excellent featurette is solely focused on the standout nightclub shootout. Cast and crew talk about the sequence, and many of the action beats are shown, but seamlessly intercut with behind-the-scenes footage. It's cool to see how several moments were executed.

N.Y.C. Noir (HD; 6:00)

††† And this last featurette is concerned with the stylistic and visual choices behind John Wick. The filmmakers mention graphic novels a fair bit throughout the extras, and such discussions are brought up again here. Locations are briefly touched upon, on top of the obvious discussion about atmosphere. A great way to cap off the extras.

Theatrical Trailer (HD; 2:32)

† † Lastly, we have the (green band) theatrical trailer which does an agreeable job of selling the movie.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

† † All 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray editions worldwide are identical. Buy local with confidence.

Summary

††† In any other universe, John Wick would be a direct-to-video cheapie, but it's a low-budget miracle which rightly garnered a cult following worldwide. It's exciting, visually arresting, layered, and it features Keanu Reeves in his best performance to date. Don't miss it.

††† The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray is a huge step up over the standard Blu-ray, with improved, borderline flawless picture and sound. This is the disc I'll be grabbing whenever I feel like watching John Wick in my house. Topped off with the same solid selection of extras available on the 1080p Blu-ray (which is also included, of course), and this disc earns my highest recommendation.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Friday, August 04, 2017
Review Equipment
DVDSamsung UBD-K8500 4K HDR Blu-Ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayLG OLED65E6T. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 2160p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationSamsung Series 7 HT-J7750W
SpeakersSamsung Tall Boy speakers, 7.1 set-up

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE