Noah Thompson’s review published on Letterboxd:
We don't get a lot of things to really care about.
I think something that is (somehow) forgotten about John Wick is how important the dog really is to what makes that movie work. This is because, as John himself will say to multiple characters, it wasn't just a dog. It kind of irks me when people relegate movie animals to being little more than things to look at and post shareable memes about how cute they are, and then act like it's the end of the world or that the movie is suddenly not worth dirt if something bad happens to the animal. I feel like I rarely see the amount of respect for the life of an animal visited upon humans with that same feeling of respect and care. That's both a bit of a digression, as well as something that I think is building to the bigger point I want to make, which is that, the dog isn't just a dog, and it's more what the dog represents in John's life, as well as what it means for the narrative and a personal takeaway from the movie. The dog is a gift from John's wife, and it's the last piece of her he has until that too is taken away from him. John Wick is one of the best action movies of the 2010's both because of the action itself being great while also being the rare wider released action movie that felt like it had something going on under the hood. It's about grieving and reflection as much as it's about reloads and bloody pencils. So, Pig. Pig is not Nic Cage's John Wick in the action sense, as you won't find much even in the way of the thriller here other than sprinkled in the first two acts. (These moments of noise and world-building that do show up though, Mama Mia, those were cool.) Instead, Pig is Nic Cage's John Wick to how it allows who is, in my mind, genuinely the best actor of all-time, a ground for contemplating with loss and love. Like how I think about how much Keanu crying in the first John Wick was such a shock to see in a movie like it, here, the moments of tears strike a chord that crying in movies I think rarely does anymore. This is a great, great film, instantly one of the best of this youthful decade. While I wouldn't label it as his best performance like others have been, of course I thought Cage was so good here. His physicality is through the roof, he looks ginormous in certain shots, and will frequently display the most powerful emotions when he makes little to no noise. (There is a very quick moment with a bike here that will give certain Cage fans what they want or "expect" from him, if you will.) I was also shocked by how fucking good Alex Wolff and Adam Arkin are too, like, really, that's the best way to describe their work, "fucking good," because it just is. Would have never expected Cage and Wolff to be this good of a pairing, but they compliment each other nicely, Wolff playing a humorous rise and grind type business loser in the Portland world who gets his thin walls of defense slowly peeled back on the film's journey. (The first scene that takes place between Cage and Arkin is also likely the film's most tense, Arkin just selling the absolute shit out of his character from second one.) Lord forbid I forget it, yes, even if you don't get too much screen time with the titular pig, she is adorable and has good screen presence. I think the two hardest parts about finding things to really love in this world come from the beginning and the end. It's hard to find, and then it's especially hard to let go, because you're never going to be ready for something good to end. But, as long as you're around, there's always "after." What do you do in the aftermath? Can you cope, and if so, then how the hell do you do it? The ending of the film is the best thing about it to me without question, but I of course can't touch on it how I would want to. (Wouldn't even know how to more formally get into it if I didn't have to worry about spoilers.) I will just state that for the time being, this has one of the most impactful final shots it feels like I have seen in a long time, especially one of the top ones from a recent release. It left me not wanting to move from my theater seat for a minute, but I knew I had to get up whether I wanted to or not, because if I didn't, I was going to start crying. I am fully intending to see this again later this week, so maybe then, I'll be able to actually talk more directly about this movie, as well as allow myself to be more open with how it makes me feel. Believe the hype. Pig is essential.