They Shouldn’t Have Killed His Dog: The Complete Uncensored Ass-Kicking Oral History of John Wick, Gun Fu, and the New Age of Action

St. Martin’s. May 2022. 288p. ISBN 9781250278432. $28.99. FILM
With this extensive and entertaining look at the John Wick franchise, Gross and Altman continue their wildly successful series of “complete, uncensored,” and unauthorized oral histories of action film franchises. Starring Keanu Reeves, the John Wick trilogy (soon to be a quartet) began in 2014 and was an instant success due to its highly stylized action and violence and its fully realized underworld mythology. What makes Gross and Altman’s oral histories so successful is that they’re unauthorized in name only—here the authors speak with all the major players from the John Wick films: directors, writers, producers, stunt coordinators, and many cast members, including Reeves. Their interviews cover every aspect of the John Wick films, including the inspiration drawn from movies like Seven Samurai and Die Hard, and the way Wick’s brand of “gun fu” has influenced films like Atomic Blonde. The only possible criticism of this volume would be that John Wick: Chapter 4 is set to be released in 2023 after several COVID-related delays, so the book feels premature, especially when compared to the other decades-long series the authors have covered, including Star Trek, Star Wars, and James Bond.
VERDICT A must-read for John Wick fans, and a great behind-the-scenes look at contemporary action films.
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