Genre: Action, Thriller
Directed by: Chad Stahelski
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Willem Dafoe, Adrianne Palicki, Alfie Allen
Make no mistake about it, John Wick is one of the best and most enjoyable revenge movies in years. From its opening shot to the final frame, the tale of a retired hitman out for vengeance against the monstrous thugs who wronged him is one of the most thrillingly enjoyable B-movies in years, elevated by the sheer showmanship and movie star charisma of its leading man.
Now in his fifties, Reeves still shows he’s got more than what it takes, cruising through the film’s blood soaked narrative as the titular Wick, dispatching bad guys left and right with such brutal efficiency that you’d be hard pressed not to mutter to yourself on numerous occasions “Whoa, that was cool”.
The story follows John Wick, a seemingly average guy who is one day given the cutest puppy on Earth; a last gift from his dying wife. Needless to say, Wick and his new companion develop a rapport. But when a gang of thugs (led by Game of Thrones’ Alfie Allen) break into his home, beat him, steal his car and kill his beloved dog, Wick breaks out the hardware and goes on a one-man mission to exact vengeance on the entire New York hub of the Russian Mafia.
As you can most likely guess, the story for John Wick is as simple as a loaf of sliced bread. It’s a tale that’s been replayed, replicated and retooled time and time again over the years. But what sets John Wick apart from all the rest is just how damn fun it all is. Tongue locked firmly in cheek, the film never takes itself seriously, fusing its inventive action with a wonderful wit that will genuinely have you laughing out loud on more than one occasion.
Lance Reddick as the concierge of a hotel for mob enforcers and assassins is a masterfully brilliant creation, while Nyquist also seems to be having an absolute blast as mob boss Viggo Tarasov. And, of course, Reeves is perfectly quintessential Reeves, clearly relishing his role as Wick.The action is also exciting. Skillfully choreographed, the film plays up to Reeves’ strengths, allowing his one-man army to dispatch numerous bad guys in a metaphorical ballet of bullets. Weirdly, it’s almost magic to see Reeves wield his guns, moving with the swiftness of a dancer, unloading bullet after bullet into the brain cavities of numerous bad guys.
Of course, the film does have its fair share of flaws. The story is simplistic, perhaps too simplistic, often times playing like a cool videogame that we aren’t afforded the luxury of playing. And while Reeves’ Wick does find himself on the receiving end of a few knocks now and again, it becomes hard to imagine how an unstoppable Terminator-esque figure like Wick will ever fail against the hapless conveyor belt of goons and henchmen that fall willingly into his path.
And while Reeves gets to shine, it unfortunately comes at the expense of most of his co-stars. Ian McShane as a hotel manager is left criminally sidelined for much of the film, as is Adrianne Palicki’s wonderfully psychotic rival assassin. But when revenge is this much fun and Keanu Reeves is this entertaining to watch, you can forgive the film its flaws.
With action fare like The Gunman, Run All Night and the Taken series plaguing our screens, it’s great to see a proper action movie come along and show them all how it’s done. So grab your popcorn, switch off your brain and prepare yourselves for one hell of a fun time at the movies.