Art History in “John Wick”

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When I went to see this movie, I expected an entertaining action flick.  What I did not expect from this assassin filled crime drama? A subtext that delved into what happens when the young and old clash against each other.  On one side, the older generation of mercenaries respects rules and traditions, while on the other side, the new mercenaries spits on them.  On visual motifs, the movie has the older crowd wearing classic suits and relaxing in retro clubs.  The newer crowd wears modern clothing and parties in clubs full of techno music.

John Wick however, stands above these conflicts.

Why do I claim this, you wonder?

At the beginning of the film, I saw a thick coffee table book named “Álvaro Siza” in Wick’s house.  When I came home, I looked up the name, only to find an architect I never heard of.  I do find it interesting that while the movie surrounds itself with modern art (I think I spotted a Toulouse-Lautrec in the Mob king’s house, but I’m not sure), retro clubs, turn of the century architecture  (Addendum: Some searching led me to people writing that it’s two buildings plus some histories behind each one) Orthodox cathedrals, Russian folklore, and classically influenced architecture, the crew members added a Contemporary Portuguese architect, a man whose style differs completely from the references I listed.

Using the book, the cinematographer (who did wonderfully by the way) foreshadows that Wick, while he lived in this criminal underworld, stood out in a big way.

The A.V. Club has their interpretation.

On a non-art history note, John Claude Gosh Darn is in this film!

ETA: This review also talked about the rules found in the film.  I saw it before seeing this film, and a repeat watch made me realize that I had forgotten that the two reviewers also talked about it briefly.  I hope it’s fine.

Update: Deleted an update and added an accent.

ETA: Clarified a sentence.

Update 1-26-2015:  Added a link.  I also fixed a sentence to match a correction in one of my links.

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