There is one major action movie staple that the John Wick franchise wisely avoids partaking in. After the release of the original John Wick in 2014, the franchise has enjoyed an ever-increasing level of popularity. The world-building of the John Wick movies is certainly an element of that, but the franchise’s approach to its action is just as vital to its success.
The John Wick movies consistently amaze with virtually every style of action possible, from chases, stunts, gun fu, and the martial arts fights of John Wick and his opponents. While the John Wick franchise has pushed modern action movies to a whole new level, and led to a rise in popularity of assassin movies, the dialogue of the series also stands out in a key way. For all the strengths of the John Wick franchise’s writing, it is even stronger for one thing it almost completely avoids indulging in.
John Wick Avoids Typical Action Movie Quotes & One-Liners
Despite John Wick’s reputation in the assassin world, the John Wick movies are surprisingly bereft of one-liners or punchlines. This is a significant contrast from the action movies of the ’80s or ’90s, in which action heroes like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone dropped one-liners with abandon. That trend is also highly present in modern action movies, with action stars like Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham. With a nickname like the Baba Yaga, John Wick might seem likely to be prone to one-liners himself, but that is not the case.
What’s more, on the rare occasions that John Wick does decide to deliver some kind of verbal retort at an opponent, it is never one of the “hasta la vista, baby!” variety. Usually, John’s parting words to defeated enemies are a cordial “be seeing you,” which he casually delivers without any visible intent to mock them. Arguably the closest John Wick has ever come to a true action movie one-liner is in John Wick: Chapter 2, when he informs Cassian (Common) that he will bleed to death if he extracts the knife John just stabbed him with from his chest, then follows this up with “consider this a professional courtesy.“
John Wick Avoiding Action Movie Clichés Is A Good Thing
Keanu Reeves’s performance as John Wick is an essential component of the franchise, and Reeves is a decidedly different kind of action hero than most others. Reeves’s likable, everyman aura suited him well for John Wick as a deadly killer hiding in plain sight, while John’s skills as an assassin are the opposite of his own aspirations for his life. From the beginning of the John Wick series, John has wanted nothing more than for his killing days to be behind him for good, but the franchise’s ongoing story forces him to do what he does best. That also makes Schwarzenegger-style one-liners completely out of place for him.
In wanting to permanently hang up his assassin weaponry, John Wick does not have the same incentive to add insult to the injuries of his enemies. Whether he is on a mission of vengeance or survival, John treats everything with the same professional attitude as he once did in his assassin heyday. If anything, the John Wick movies show him paying respect to his opponents after defeating them with his frequent parting words of “be seeing you.” On a deeper level than being a victorious one-liner, John Wick sees such deference as a true “professional courtesy.“
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