I mostly outgrew action films a couple of decades ago. I came of age during the late '80s/early '90s, which I’d argue created some of the very best and very worst action films. Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Van Damme, Seagal - if those names don’t mean anything to you, then you missed out on some kick-ass, utterly ridiculous action flicks. During those years, I watched nearly every action movie I could get my hands on. I loved every explosion, every increasingly gigantic gun, every dumb one-liner. But, as noted, at some point I got tired of them. Explosions became boring, car chases all felt the same, and those one-liners weren’t funny any more. I moved on, but the genre continued to grow.
I almost completely stopped paying attention to the genre I’ve never been fast nor furious, I’m not entirely sure who Jason Statham is, and I prefer to leave my Transformers in their plastic cases. There are exceptions, of course. Liam Neeson tricked me into watching him chase down the people who had Taken his daughter, I gave Jason Bourne a few tries, and I rarely say no to Tom Cruise. The action films that usually get me into the seats, and certainly, the ones I wind up enjoying are the ones with both style and substance. Give me a film that has something to say alongside its ass kicking and I’m all there. But when a film is nothing but big bangs and karate chops, I usually tune out pretty quickly.
Again there are exceptions. John Wick was one of those. Story-wise, it's a very basic revenge flick (and I tend to make exceptions in my "no action flicks" rule for revenge films) but man, does it have a lot of style. It's not big on the giant explosive spectacle that so many of these films get mixed up with but rather, it sticks mostly to gun fights and hand-to-hand combat. It's choreographed to within an inch of its life, which makes it thrilling to look at.
John Wick isn’t a great film, but it is a cool one. I’m looking forward to seeing if they can top it with the sequel.
Also out this week that looks interesting:
The LEGO Batman Movie: Crammed full of jokes but not nearly as delightful as The Lego Movie.
They Live By Night (Criterion Collection): A Nicholas Ray film about a group of three convicts who escape prison. One wants to prove his innocence and return home but is forced by the other to participate in several heists which only makes the police go after them even harder.
Inquisition: Spanish horror film about something nobody expects (if you don’t get the joke look at the title and the first word of this sentence again.) It was directed by Paul Naschy who I’ve never heard of but is considered one of the more important figures in Spanish horror cinema. Luigi Bastardo has our review.
Kill, Baby, Kill!: Mario Bava’s classic Italian horror ghost story gets a Blu-ray upgrade from Kino Lobber.
The Vampire Diaries: The Complete Series: The eighth season is available all by itself but if you are looking for the entire collection of this silly vampire series from the CW here you are.
Grimm: Season Six: NBC’s occult detective series in which fairy tale creatures are real has its sixth season hit Blu-ray.