I could start and stop my film review section right here with Why So Blu reviewer Aaron Neuwirth’s comments on my theatrical review of John Wick where he left the following remarks. “A dude with long hair, a dog, and Mustang beats up Theon Greyjoy. Of course you loved this movie.” He also went on to add that “and he listens to Marilyn Manson! You must have been in heaven.” Let the record show, Aaron knows me well. I was truly in a nirvana-like state throughout the movie’s entire runtime, and I have been salivating ever since for the eventual sequel this February. This is why I’m a reviewer! I already have John Wick on Blu-ray, but now in my grubby hands some weeks before anyone else I have it 4K Ultra HD! I want to shout it from the top of the tallest mountain, I LOVE IT SO!
I feel the need to start this John Wick Blu-ray review off by quickly discussing the plot of the film from a very high level because it’s actually the very reason why I initially wanted to see this film. Keanu Reeves plays a former hitman that comes out of retirement to avenge the death of his dog (admittedly there’s a little more to the story than that). But yes, I said his dog! Now tell me, how awesome is that? I sound like a little girl here, but I dare to utter the words awesome sauce! I love animals so much, much more than most people in life, so when I learned of the premise of this film I just screamed YES! It’s exactly the kind of film I would go pay to see and given the right circumstance I too would totally extract revenge on someone if they purposely harmed one of my dogs. Let that be a warning to everyone. Haha. So what say you? Y’all ready to talk some John Wick? I am!
What impressed me the most about John Wick before even seeing theatrically was not Keanu’s marvelous lamb chops, but the fact that there were so many stars attached to this picture. Let’s take a quick moment to recap them all. In addition to everyone’s favorite time-traveling surfer dude there’s also Michael Nyqvist, Willem Dafore, Dean Winters, Adrianne Palicki, Bridget Moynahan, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane, Alfie Evan Allen (Game of Thrones‘ Theon Greyjoy) and more. I don’t know how you feel about it, but those names are pretty damn impressive to me considering it’s the directorial debut film of David Leitch and Chad Stahelski. I hope I can be this fortunate with an all-star studded cast when I direct my first Hollywood feature, but I digress. Perhaps what is most shocking to me is the fact that one of the movie’s producers is none other than Desperate Housewives‘ Eva Longoria. How do you like that?!
So yeah! This movie really is about a man getting revenge over the death of his dog. But relax. There’s much more to it than just that. Without going into any spoiler territory let’s just say that this one starts out on a “Debbie Downer” note just like Guardians of the Galaxy, and spins into something so completely awesome that you never want to get out of the action packed joy ride you’re on. You know how they say revenge is a dish best served cold and works best without emotions, attachments and masterful planning? Don’t buy that for a second! John Wick effectively works best because of the character’s emotional attachments and loss of them. It makes him imperfect and not the Michael Myers “Boogeyman” as he’s portrayed. His character has inherent and obvious flaws and I love him even more because of them. In other words it’s not a Steven Seagal film where he never gets touched. You picking up what I’m dropping?
I had an absolute blast with this one so yeah I’m thinking Keanu Reeves is back as an action star. It really is amazing when you think about how far he has come in the world of action films since Point Break and Speed. He portrays the character of John Wick masterfully here as a empathetic family man, but one that can instantly flip that switch and have a heart made of chrome (masking his pain of course) as he unmercifully and unapologetically takes out his all opponents that stand in his way. Like a Marvel picture of late, John Wick, although rated-R, balances perfectly between charm, wit, humor, charisma and kick a$$ action. However, unlike the PG-13 toned down comic book violence of a Marvel film, John Wick is the kind of hardcore violence and action that makes your bones ache and question what you just saw on screen. Did he just do that? Oh yes he did! Some of the kill scenes, albeit very fast paced in nature, can be sloppy because he’s simply reacting to every variable put in front of him (not masterfully planned as discussed in the paragraph up above), but are they all ever oh so awesome. John Wick uses any and everything at his disposal to defeat his opponents. Now the question is, does he achieve his endgame and come out unscathed and victorious? Well, you already know he doesn’t come out unscathed at all, in fact he gets his a$$ handed to him several times, but you have to be a GD fool if you ever think I’m going to divulge the ending. You just have to see it! And see it you will. Let me tell you why.
There’s a reason why Scott Mendelson of Forbes call this one of the BEST action films of last year. It’s because it is! And it’s really that simple. If you don’t come out of your John Wick Blu-ray viewing pumped up, then there’s something wrong with you medically speaking. The film has it all: money, cars (oh the American muscles cars), gangs, guns, girls, violence, Marilyn Manson, puppies and some good old-fashioned hardcore action, something sorely missing from most flicks nowadays because of that watered down PG-13 BS that has saturated our markets to pack in seats for sheer greed only. John Wick really is that breath of fresh air you’ve been looking for. It’s not a perfect film by any means, but it’s one of the best times I had at the theater last year and I’m really digging owning this on Blu-ray. So relish in how good it feels to be back with John Wick on Blu-ray by checking out everything this Blu-ray set has to offer you.
The below video score and related critique of things here are based solely upon my viewing of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of John Wick. The 1080p Blu-ray presentation was previously reviewed here on the website. This UHD package sees its presentation supposedly derived from a 2.8K source and finished via a 4K Digital Intermediate. So that’s kind of new and we have that going for us right off the bat.
- Encoding: HEVC / H.265
- Resolution: 4K (2160p)
- Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
- Clarity/Detail: I can’t really say this is the crispest and sharpest of the 4k Ultra HD Blu-ray presentations, but I can say elements like textures, hair and pores are rendered very effectively. The wet asphalt that John Wick’s muscle cars traverse over still stand out the most to me. Compared to the Blu-ray presentation I would call this UHD one a modest improvement in the resolution department. If I was hard up for money, it wouldn’t be something I’d race out and buy Day 1, but it’s better than wasting your cash on drugs and alcohol. Ha ha. I think the uptick in resolution benefits the most with closeups and surface details/textures like the asphalt I just mentioned as an example.
- Depth: The onscreen characters all have that three-dimensional pop to them so they stand out well in comparison to the backgrounds like this one scene where we see the city down below past the rail or while walking through the bowels of the Continental Hotel. You won’t see me complain here.
- Black Levels: Since most of this movie takes place in darker environments, I guess you can say yes the black levels are really solid and inky throughout. Best of all though with this 4K presentation finer details are now not all lost in the shadows as they were in the former Blu-ray. It’s not perfect, but I’ll take it.
- Color Reproduction: Ah the colors! This is where John Wick either looks fantastic or tonally dark and muted. On one side of the spectrum there are lots of neons like in the Red Circle nightclub and whatnot that make the presentation really vivacious and jumping from the contrast. While on the other side of the coin, the film is rooted in tonal qualities that include many dark moments and low lit sequences to match the story’s elements. To say that the film has been color graded would be an understatement. It has been tweaked a lot and thanks to the HDR I would call some of the colors warmer and more natural looking/appealing. Explosions definitely look more vibrant. That’s for sure. Things just look a tad different than the Blu-ray here thanks in part to the UHD’s wider color gamut.
- Flesh Tones: Since things here are not overly hell crazy bent on vibrant colors and hues, I would say the skin tones all still look pretty natural and authentic throughout.
- Noise/Artifacts: I didn’t notice anything wrong with the presentation’s print in regards to any blemishes, white specks, noise, excessive grain, etc. There’s some noise in the sky, but that’s about it.
Like I mentioned up above in the video section, the below audio score and critical comments of such are based solely upon my viewing of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of John Wick. Like they did with the previous Blu-ray release Lionsgate did not skimp in the audio department here. Both the 4K UHD disc and the regular 1080p Blu-ray share the same Dolby Atmos surround track. The 1080p Blu-ray presentation was previously reviewed here on the website. Now that I have Dolby Atmos in my home life you can see all my additional notes below on the subject.
- Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD Atmos Mix 7.1, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1, English 2.0 Dolby Digital Audio Optimized for Late-Night Listening, English Descriptive Audio, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital
- Subtitles: English SDH, English, Spanish
- Height: For the first time now I’m able to take in John Wick in all its Dolby Atmos glory. Ha ha. It’s no Pacific Rim, but John Wick delivers in the height channel through effective use of atmospherics, falling rain, a helicopter flyover, bullets zinging by and more.
- Dynamics: The dynamics are punchy and filled with aggression as every tump, snap and shot rings out with clarity and ferocity. Even John Wick’s onscreen puppy was realistic as my chiweenie was all over the screen barking his little Star-Lord head off at it. I had to yell a few times at him to knock it off. Obviously, when the onscreen puppy’s head was snapped mine stopped as well. It’s funny how that works, huh? Let’s also not forget that killer soundtrack blasting here too like Marilyn Manson’s “Killing Strangers,” which was featured twice in here. By the way, that song is off his latest album, The Pale Emperor, which dropped the week John Wick was originally released on Blu-ray. And oh yeah! Like John Wick, it’s excellent too!
- Low Frequency Extension: Many thanks to the LFE channel for the aggression in the mix here to push the dynamics over-the-top. This makes you feel every blow, explosion, collision and most importantly, every gun shot. And of course with all the muscle cars employed you better believe you hear every V8 rumble too.
- Surround Sound Presentation: Again, like the dynamics category up above, your home theater experience is amped up here with bullets zinging by you, glass shattering behind you and rain that falls all around you. In other words, you’re immersed here. But that’s not all. there’s so much more here and that’s what makes John Wick a bonafide champ in the A/V departments.
- Dialogue Reproduction: The dialogue levels are clear and intelligible throughout the presentation.
Here’s what I really like about the Extras section on John Wick. Both the Blu-ray and Digital HD bonus materials include six exclusive featurettes that take a detailed look at different aspects of the film including the intense stunts, incredible action sequences, the stylized look and locale of the film, establishing the world of John Wick and a discussion with director Chad Stahelski and producer David Leitch on how they made this action film their way. The Blu-ray also includes an exclusive audio commentary with the filmmakers. And best of all, the redeemable HD Digital Copy code is both UltraViolet and Apple iTunes compliant. Hell to the yeah! So let’s take a closer look at all the action you score in the Extras department down below.
- Don’t F*#% With John Wick (HD, 15:17) – This one takes us on an in-depth examination of the stunts and fight choreography as we get a behind-the-scenes look at all the major action sequences. We also get introduced to the concepts of “gunfu” and “carfu.” LOL. Everyone (the director, stunt guys, actors, etc.) all compliment Keanu Reeves, the animal he is in which he attacks training here going through four rigorous months.
- Calling in the Cavalry (HD, 11:58) – This one focuses on how important the story is and how all parties came to be involved, including the casting process and the table read of the screenplay. You can just tell how spot on the chemistry is here throughout.
- Destiny of a Collective (HD, 6:19) – This one talks about the formation of 8711 in LA, which became the foremost stunt company in the world. It also shows their rise from being stunt people to becoming directors. How awesome is it that John Wick is the director’s first feature? I’m jealous. The cast all chime in too about how impressive it was to work with the duo, expressing their enthusiasm for the project.
- Assassin’s Code (HD, 5:18) – This one examines everything about the world of John Wick, underneath it all, the characters, violence, sets (the Continental Hotel), rules, currency (the gold coins), etc.
- Red Circle (HD, 6:26) – Here we are at the Red Circle nightclub, which is the filmmakers’ homage to classic gunslinging club moments. The actors talked about how hard it was to shoot the hot tub scenes with hot bikini models. I’m just kidding. They loved it! They basically cover all the sequences that happen here in the Red Circle, behind the scenes of course with the long takes as well as all the fight choreography involved too. Very cool!
- NYC Noir (HD, 5:59) – This one examines the urban mythology of John Wick‘s world through classical storytelling, lighting, architecture, spaces and of course the extrapolation of New York City, as a hyper real world. They talk about New York City as the most important character in John Wick.
- Audio Commentary – This extra, as I mentioned up above already, is a Blu-ray exclusive only and features an audio commentary with filmmakers Chad Stahelski and David Leitch. Watching the enthusiasm of these guys in all the previous mentioned extras makes this commentary track the salivating icing on the cake.
John Wick is nothing new. It doesn’t reinvent the genre. However, what makes it so universally appealing is it’s a kick in the nuts with its fresh take on the genre and entertaining stylized action rooted in story. It’s like driving in a Mustang GT, the real ones with V8’s, a wild thrill ride. Lionsgate Home Entertainment delivers on the goods too with an titillating A/V presnetation and a healthy dose of extras coupled with a redeemable Digital HD file good with UltraViolet or iTunes. So anyway you slice it, John Wicks deserves a coveted place in your growing 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray collection.
John Wick Goes All Gun-Fu in
4K Ultra HD Blu-ray