John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is having a hard time of things. Recently bereaved of his beloved wife he seems to be living in a waking nightmare of loneliness until an unexpected gift of a beagle puppy turns up at his door. A present from beyond the grave the cute little bow-wow was sent by his wife to keep him company. The puppy charms dear John, and indeed the whole world, and things just don’t seem so bad. That is until an unfortunate encounter with Alfie Allen’s Russian gangster. Taking a strong liking to Wick’s automobile the criminal scamp decides to break in beating John, taking the car and killing the delightful puppy in the process. So John Wick must do what any normal person would do… get all his guns out and kill people.

That’s right, John Wick‘s revenge plot starts with the death of a puppy.

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Much like the great modern revenge flicks such as Man on Fire our hero John used to be a paid assassin so knows a thing or two about killing. As we meet him, he seems a relatively banal, rugged looking man, potentially involved in advertising? Once word of is out that someone killed his dog the whole criminal world begins to shit itself over the Godly thunder that is about to reign down. Think Black Dynamite when the cop says “hell’s a’comin’, comin’, comin’, comin'”. Willem Dafoe, John Leguizamo and Ian McShane all turn up in small supporting roles to essentially fill us in that John is a very dangerous man and that we should be excited for what is about to happen.

And so it comes to pass that John Wick systematically kills lots of people until he can get to Alfie Allen and his kingpin father (Michael Nyqvist). There are gun fights aplenty, a few car chases thrown in and some fisticuffs. A film very much of style, everything is tailored to nth degree. From Keanu Reeves beautiful suits, to the rich looking sets to the very mannered motions of the gun work and hand to hand combat. Weirdly with so much action few moments truly stick in the memory. Instead it all flies by on the screen in a perfectly entertaining blur all anchored by a somewhat over-the-top but kind-of-understandable grief for his dog and wife.

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John Wick is the kind of character Reeves can play with his eyes closed. Little to say, looks intense and handles a gun well. It sounds strangely similar to another one of his famous roles. It’s a film that asks very little of the audience but rewards you nonetheless with some entertaining scraps. We told how deadly the man is without hearing any specifics tales and a whole world of an assassins culture where they trade in gold coins and have an exclusive hotel for their private use are blissfully shown but little explained. Hopefully with the recently announced sequel the filmmakers will delve more in this mythology and give more heft to the world of John.

 

3/5

 

Dir: Chad Stahelski, David Leitch (uncredited)

Scr: Derek Kolstad

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Willem Dafoe, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo 

Prd: Basil Iwanyk, David Leitch,  Eva Longoria, Chad Stahelski (uncredited)

DOP: Jonathan Sela

Music: Tyler Bates, Joel J. Richard

Country: USA

Year: 2014

Run time: 101 mins

 

John Wick is available on Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital now.