I used to love going to the movies. Los Angeles celebrates film like no other place. Back in the 90s I would frequent a little run-down revival house without AC and with cloth seats that would show 32mm film of classics. It was called the New Beverly and apparently a lot of people used to go there. I’d see celebs now and then, but probably didn’t recognize a million or so. Tarantino eventually gave them a ton of cash to keep operating, since he was one of the people who loved seeing old films on the big screen. They had a write-in book where you could suggest films for double-features and such and they picked my movies a few times, which still warms my heart that film snobs found my choices worth choosing.
But those days are kind of gone. The theater experience has become so shitty I have to really drag myself to go and when I do, I’m at the 10pm Wednesday show. Which means one of the main points of a theater: communal experience, is gone.
That lengthy preface means I finally saw John Wick 3…on Amazon.
I always wondered how you write a pure action movie. I mean, how do you keep readers interested? There is probably 10 pages of dialogue in that script in a 130 min movie (each min = 1 script page per the old maxim). The late, great William Goldman, who left me a voice mail once, wrote Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid with lots of elipses and one sentence partial-breaks to keep the action flowing. He devised the page to be an action script. That’s a writer who honed is particular writing form.
But an action movie like John Wick is going to be hashed by the stunt coordinator, director, and stunt people. They can do stuff visually that would be garbage on the page. Either that, or it would take 5 pages to describe something that completes in 2.4 seconds and you’d have a script that adequately describes the movie, but is 1500 pages long.
I found the action in Wick 3 to be repetitive. I had mentioned before the whole world reminds me of a short story I wrote called, “The Agent Who Disappeared,” which was about agents and Agents and long before the first Matrix. But not nearly as good as the Matrix. But it kind of felt worn here in the 3rd installment. Some of this different world view will be in my next book, Spell Talker. Which is coming along very well, BTW.
For such a big budget movie, you see the same tricks used in Hong Kong chopsocky movies of old. They give the “red shirts” helmets so you can use the same stunt people over and over. They’re wearing masks, or helmets, or tagelmust turbans. Cuz a trained stunt person isn’t an extra you can give $50 a day and have stand around on set and maybe shamble like a zombie or dance to a non-existent song.
I grew tired of all the headshots and convenient pauses in action so Wick could recover. I liked the main actors, including Laurence Fishburne, Lance_Reddick (The Wire and see below), Angelica Huston, and Ian McShane (Deadwood and the voice of the bad guy in Kung Fu Panda where he has the best line ever, “He’s a panda–you’re panda!”)
Lance Reddick nailed it as the father in this skit. Which is why you can love actors. Because they can do so much. “He can go.”
Anyway, I think they’re kind of milking the Wick franchise. Like the Bourne franchise and the whatever franchise. They’re action set pieces where studios show off their money. And that’s fine. In a theater, it would probably be pretty awesome with that enormous screen, sound system, and cheering fans. But at home, it’s kind of meh.