Review: John Wick
A serious and somber opening sets an important but ultimately misleading tone for John Wick, a refreshing and exceptionally violent action thriller starring Keanu Reeves. A quiet man in mourning has just lost the two most important things left in his life at the hands of cocky gangsters after having just lost his wife; it’s an uncomfortable watch.
Pretty soon after though we have a Russian mobster (Michael Nyqvist) on the phone looking incredulous and afraid at the fact that his petulant son just irked the wrong man. When he hears the name ‘John Wick,’ his jaw drops and he simply says ‘oh,’ which is when you can breathe a sigh of relief.
It’s because at that point, John Wick turns into this action-packed, mesmerizing adventure that follows the titular former assassin (probably a bad idea to lift his car) on a violent rampage.
Directed by two accomplished stuntmen and second unit directors getting their first chance at a feature film in Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, John Wick quickly and organically creates a logical world in which assassins navigate and live by a certain code of thieves. Wick returns to The Continental, this seemingly timeless hotel where an underground safe zone exists and gold coins are used as currency. Adrianne Palicki, Ian McShane, and Willem Dafoe are among this cadre of skilled professionals.
As he seems to do so often, Reeves grounds what on the surface reads as a completely absurd plot. Yet it is with careful consideration and sheer determination that those creating this movie operate; you not only believe in this world as well as Wick’s past job and current quest, but you completely root for this man. This deadly, violent man who racks up a massive body count.
And he does so in captivating, almost hypnotic fashion at times. Long cuts and a combination of gun play and martial arts make this a beautiful action film. A scene in an exclusive nightclub finds Wick killing one guy after another, and these lengthy sequences set to electro pop music are unforgettable.
Reeves and his character are so winning with this combination of verve and wit, placing John Wick among the best and most enjoyable action films of the year.