Directors: Chad Stahelski and David Leitch
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Willem Dafoe, Adrianne Palicki, Lance Reddick, Ian McShane
“John wasn’t exactly the boogeyman. He’s the one you send to kill the fucking boogeyman.”
This line, precisely delivered by The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’s Michael Nyqvist sums up the tone of John Wick pretty nicely. A film that doesn’t pull the punches, John Wick goes for it all guns blazing, and is all the better for it. Chad Stahelski and David Leitch’s action-packed thrill ride reminds us how good action films can really be and is a nice nod to the brilliant action films of the 80s. We’re back, baby!
Keanu Reeves is John Wick, a former hitman, who is forced out of retirement when a group of Russian gangsters come into his home, beat him up a bit, smash his house up a tad, and ultimately kill his dog. Said dog was a gift from John Wick’s recently deceased wife, and you don’t mess with John Wick’s dog. He decides to get back into the game to track down the lowlifes responsible and teach them a lesson they’ll never forget.
John Wick is incredible. Fast-paced action which is both nail-bitingly exciting and beautiful to watch. The two directors had worked with Reeves as stuntmen before on the set of The Matrix, and had been developing this script especially for the action star. It’s a match made in heaven. What Keanu lacks in acting ability, he makes up in sheer screen presence. It’s impossible to take your eyes off him, he just oozes cool. Giving him sharp one-liners is a stroke of genius because they’ll stay with you long after the film has finished, and we all know that all the best action films have the most quotable lines: “Get to the chopper”, “Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker”, “Put the cookie down” all come to mind.
People keep asking if I’m back and I haven’t really had an answer, but yeah, I’m thinking I’m back.
We’ve seen ‘Gun-fu’ before in films like Equilibrium, but John Wick takes it to the next level. Instead of fighting with his fists, John Wick fights using his guns, shooting and hitting in equal measure. Despite being 50, Keanu Reeves still can throw himself around as if he was still in his twenties, it’s truly sensational to watch.
It’s full of breathtaking fight scenes, the stand out one being a terrific fight/chase scene where John Wick is chasing Alfie Allen’s Iosef Tarasov through a club. The combination of the ambient neon lighting and the melodic soundtrack used during this scene lend themselves perfectly to the frantic fighting on-screen. It’s one of the stand-out fight scenes of the year. There’s also a captivating scene between Wick and Adrianne Palicki’s hitman, Ms. Perkins, which takes place in his hotel room, an area where fighting is strictly forbidden (yes, in this world even hitmen have rules).
John Wick has an interesting array of supporting characters, most notably Nyqvist’s Russian mobster boss (despite sounding mostly Scandinavian), Lance Reddick’s Hotel Manager Charon, and even brief appearances from the brilliant Ian McShane and Willem Dafoe. Even Game of Thrones’ Alfie Allen gets another chance to show how he can play one nasty piece of work. The Hitman Hotel is also an interesting location, which will probably be looked into more in the sequel, which has just been confirmed.
John Wick doesn’t let itself get too bogged down with backstory. It puts you right into the heart of the action and never slows down, letting the viewer discover Wick’s past and his world as the film goes on, which is perfect. The classic example of ‘show, don’t tell’.
John Wick is a refreshing film and a nice palette cleanser after the onslaught of sub-par action films we have had to endure over the last few years. It isn’t full of mindless explosions and clunky dialogue. Instead we have a well thought out, brilliantly choreographed, wonderfully cheesy action romp which everyone should try to catch as soon as possible.