Movie Review: John Wick
Stars: Keanu Reeves, Micahel Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Willem Dafoe, Dean Winters, Bridget Moynahan, Adrianne Palicki, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane, Lance Reddick, David Patrick Kelly
Rated R for strong and bloody violence throughout, language and brief drug use, Running time 101 minutes, Action/Thriller
Compare to: Drive (2011), The Equalizer (2014)
It’s a great feeling to watch a movie and realize that you’ve liked what you’ve seen so far, the scene you’re watching is great, and that the rest of the film is going to be awesome too. That’s John Wick.
While the plot has been mocked on certain outlets for it’s seemingly basic revenge movie premise, directors David Leitch and Chad Stahelski use as strengths what are normally used as crutches in the genre.
Former hitman John Wick has been retired. Suffering from the loss of his wife, a few thugs break into his home one night and nearly kill John, steal his car, and kill his dog. Little do they know who they’ve actually done wrong and so begins John’s mission to do unto others.
While killing one’s dog hardly seems a reason for going on a murderous rampage, Wick could also serve as an example that you’d better be careful who you piss off. Some of the more humorous aspects of the film include John’s return to a world where he knows everyone and they know him. While so many antiheroes don’t get the respect they seem to deserve, Reeves’ character seems to have more in common with his character than the violent surface of the film would have you think.
Set to heavy guitar riffs and electronica, there’s not a moment lost in the hour and forty minutes as we’re given enough to care of John’s plight but not so much as to be bogged down in details we don’t care about in an attempt to pretend it’s got heart. No, Wick is so quick to get to the action, you’re almost ready to allow him his peaceful life with his puppy before the horror besets him.
One of the more enjoyable aspects of the film are the familiar faces you see throughout. Fans of the genre will recognize character actors in bit parts that add gravitas to what could be forgettable roles…yet they’re not. What could be parts that are left up to the audience to piece together who is doing what become comedic cameos that allow us to settle in to the world where everybody is so comfortable, we walk right past the bouncers with them.
If you’re a fan of Reeves and haven’t been happy with his more recent work, this is the comeback you’ve been waiting for. There’s nothing here to be improved upon as far as Action is concerned. There’s nothing to be improved upon in emotion either surprisingly. While the cliches are there, they’re played straight and fast while others are mocked and used all the same.
In a sense, we as the audience are being treated as intelligent as the fast paced writing presented to us here, a rarity in a genre that’s thrived for decades pretending it’s doing something original, yet hardly ever just doing what John Wick does by making it all feel new.
Positives: The cast, music, pacing, action all falls into place here. Reeves as Wick is as much fun as Neo ever was but without the Wachowski preachiness.
Negatives: The simplicity of it all may turn off those expecting more depth.