Is the John Wick format becoming obsolete?


Sometimes one movie or franchise has such a huge impact with such a simple concept that the rest of the medium can’t help but play the role of a copycat. The action genre has always been a game of following the leader, but isn’t it time for the latest trend to start dying off?

In 2014, “John Wick” hit the big screens with a deadly cocktail of extremely effective storytelling, perfect world-building and dynamic action. It was an instant success, and he managed to take elements from many other examples while remaining completely unique. Since then, many attempts have been made to recreate magic with completely different results.

Since then, the original “John Wick” by Chad Stahelski and Derek Kolstad has been followed by two sequels, and a third is on the way. The fifth is also in development, and some issues are related to the release date. The franchise will be further bolstered by the addition of a spin-off called “Ballerina” starring Anna de Armas. The premiere of the prequel TV series on Peacock is also due to take place next year. It tells the story of Winston’s early life before he reached his hallowed hotel. There have also been rumors of a spin-off of Halle Berry’s character Sofia, although this seems less likely. This is an extensive franchise that will develop in just ten years and is almost entirely focused on the single concept of Keanu Reeves, hungry for revenge. I don’t want to cut it short, but it’s somewhat impressive that a concept that sounds perfect for a million shooting games of the 80s can give rise to one of the most powerful franchises in the action genre. However, the official sequels and spin-offs hardly reflect the impact that the 2014 hit had on the genre.

Films that “look like John Wick, but…” are actually a separate genre at the moment. Some comparisons are fairer than others, but there are plenty of films that deviate slightly from joining the franchise. The main screenwriter and director of the franchise applied their talents elsewhere. Last year, Kolstad wrote “Nobody,” which was similar to John Wick, but the main killer’s family was still alive, which led to him becoming a suburban father before returning to the herd. Uncredited co-director David Leitch directed “Explosive Blonde,” which brought a Cold War-era espionage twist to the action structure. Leitch then doubled down with this year’s bullet train, which is a more comedic approach to the concept. Even aside from former John Wick alumni, countless other features deserve comparison. From “Powder Milkshake” to “Kate”, “Gray Man” and “Day Shift” — this idea has spread far beyond the franchise.

Good films that borrow Wick’s signature style add something to the equation. Something more than just a new famous performer in the title role. The key point in which these films are inspired by Wick is the action. There is a little more variety in the stories, but the fighting can be turned into a colorful compilation, and a new viewer can believe that he is watching one movie. Bloody scenes of spaghetti western shootouts of the 60s and 70s gave way to comical piles of faceless thugs of the 80s. This gave way to Matrix-style shootouts of the 90s, more inspired by martial arts. A fast-paced gunfight in the genre of “gan fu” is a modern action movie in which you take notes about everything that happened before and recombine it into a new form. The blockbusters of the 90s most often featured one punch or shot. Now even blockbusters about superheroes, such as Deadpool or Birds of Prey, choose the John Wick method.

The hype around the Wick franchise has not gone away, but not where it used to be. The glut of so many sequels and potential spin-offs makes each issue less special. In addition, one of the great features of the franchise was the effective construction of the world. It didn’t take much talking to establish the more important things going on behind the scenes. Prequels threaten the simplicity of the franchise and risk complicating everything. It is difficult for the original model to be special in the world of other works doing very similar things. This is a problem that genre cinema often faces. If something implements the idea first, then a lot of other projects do the same, and the original begins to seem less unique.

Like the killer of the same name, it is quite possible that the John Wick model cannot die. This is the new default state for fighters, and it won’t change until a new one appears. The question is whether examples outside the franchise can continue to succeed. Many films closely related to Wick failed to capture the public consciousness. More recently, David Leitch’s “High-Speed Train” caused slight disappointment at the box office and among critics. It’s time for innovators to do what they do best and find the next evolution in an action movie before the diminishing returns deprive John Wick of pleasure.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here