Dialogue, dialogue, dialogue…

Okay, so I’m having my morning coffee and taking a fast peek at Twitter and I ran into this trailer for an upcoming Keanu Reeves movie – JOHN WICK.

It looked like a good no-brainer action flick. I happen to really enjoy no-brainer action flicks so I thought I’d take a peek at the trailer.

It looked all right until Keanu’s voiceover at about the minute mark.

“I lost everything. That dog was a final gift from my dying wife.”


Holy whiskey, tango, foxtrot Batman – who farted in the Bat-Elevator?

Having some ex-green-beret, ex-superspy, ex-hitman, ex-badass-black-op go bonzo-berserk because somebody killed his dog is fine motivation for a no-brainer action flick.

But do not spell it out in a piece of dumbass-dialogue like that!!!

I must be getting meaner as I get older but I almost spilled my coffee when I heard that line – and that coffee was a final gift from my wife who was going off to ride the bus to her day-job.

Come on, scriptwriter.

(or more as likely, come on, director)


You don’t need to spell EVERYTHING out. That single stinking piece of dialogue air-dropped JOHN WICK squarely into cliche-land.

I’m sorry, Keanu. I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. I really kind of enjoyed you in SPEED and you were freaking awesome in THE REPLACEMENTS and I am really sorry that I cannot think of another movie that I even remotely liked you in but that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.

Peaked, way too early!

Don’t talk to me about THE MATRIX. The way I see it those two sequels pretty well double-negatived that whole movie into the Phantom Zone of inconsequential cinema.

Let me tell you about dialogue.

Have you ever had a policeman ask you for your driver’s license? How about at the liquor store – when the counter clerk asks you for some ID?

(and damn it – folks stopped asking me for ID thirty-eight years ago)

Every single piece of dialogue in your book and/or movie is your character’s ID card!

You don’t want to hand that liquor store clerk a piece of ID that looks as if your buddy Photoshopped it up out of a template he found in a bubble gum machine.

Dialogue, dialogue, dialogue!

If your character opens up his mouth – make DAMN sure that something interesting falls out of it!

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

PS – If you REALLY want to read yourself a novel about somebody willing to go to war over a dead dog – pick yourself up a copy of Jack Ketchum’s RED.

This is – by far – my favorite Ketchum novel and well worth reading. There was a movie made but I’m pretty sure Keanu Reeves wasn’t in it.

4 responses to “Dialogue, dialogue, dialogue…

  1. I kinda liked the line. It let me know this guy was gonna be bat shit crazy. Looks like they try to put a little humor in it which or some reason, reminded me of Mr & Mrs. Smith.


    • That’s what keeps film making studios and publishers in business – the fact that not everyone is going to share the same experience reading any particular or watching any particular movie.



  2. I don’t find it that bad, after all it is a trailer so they clipped everything for effect, to grab your attention. I’ve watched a lot of really bad movies on YouTube where they use just sex and violence for substance. That might have affected my opinion. πŸ™‚



    • Hi Lily.

      I don’t know. I still found the line flat and unnecessary.

      I went back and I listened to it again, just in case I was being too hard on it. Maybe I hadn’t had enough coffee. Maybe I was still waking up.


      I listened to it again – and to my ear it still sucked harder than a billion backed-up toilets.


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