After his wife dies suddenly, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) received a gift she organised before she passed away; a puppy. Just as John begins to get attached to the little creature, a Russian gang break into his home, steal his car and kill the poor dog. Little do they realise that Wick was once an assassin known as Baba Yaga (The Boogeyman), and when he sets out on a rampage of revenge, no-one who stands in his way is safe.
It would be easy to dismiss John Wick as just another bland auctioneer with little new or entertaining going on, but you would be doing yourself a disservice to miss out of this hyper-violent, silly and fun film.
Keanu Reeves still has trouble making his character feel rounded through dialogue, but physically, he makes John Wick an imposing, swift and merciless character. As Wick rampages through groups of henchmen at a time, his physical strength and skill – which he nurtured after The Matrix – are evident, and it is this that the film hinges on. Who cares why Keanu is out for revenge, once he does it stylishly, fast and to a greta soundtrack.
The rest of the cast is made up of Bridget Moynahan, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Willem Dafoe and Adrianne Palicki. All are on great form; Dafoe as a shadowy assassin, Nyqvist as an imposing mobster, Palicki as a violent assassin, and although this is Reeves’ film, they back him up admirably.
The story, written by Derek Kolstad, is rather light on story and dialogue, but has plenty of slick touches, and heightens the reality of the film slightly away from ours, so that the violence and action are acceptable in this slightly twisted world. Having clean up crews on standby and a hotel designated for assassins only are lovely touches, and bring a touch of comedy to the proceedings.
Director Chad Stahelski – whose career until now has been as a Stunt Co-ordinator – keeps the action scenes tight and interesting; no two are alike. As well as this, the film is incredibly well paced, with small lulls leading to even more action and retribution filling the screen. The set and production design of the film are slick and cool, and the soundtrack of the film – which includes Marilyn Manson’s return to form ‘Killing Strangers’ – is an absolute stormer.
In all, John Wick is light on story but heavy on stylish, slick and incredibly violent action. This is perhaps the most fun action film seen on screen in years, and is just self-conscious enough to remain fun.