“John Wick doesn’t need to speak to you when all he wants to do is shoot everyone in the face.”
John Wick, a former mob hitman, is forced out of retirement in order to track down, and brutally murder, the gangsters who took everything from him. That’s it. That’s the entire storyline. You don’t need to know anything else, but do not let that deter you. Despite the simplicity of the premise and the sometimes sub-standard script, John Wick is an absolute belter of an action flick.
Keanu Reeves (The Matrix) stars as the professional killer Wick, who had managed to escape the life of organised crime once before, but finds himself unable to resist the lure of one last killing spree, brought on by the fact that he feels he has nothing left to lose. And if, having watched the first twenty minutes of this film, you don’t somewhat understand the rationale behind his murderous rampage, then you, sir or madam, are impenitently devoid of all feels.
Reeves is cast perfectly as the tortured, but primarily emotionless Wick, and the fact that he barely has more than an A4 page worth of dialogue certainly suits him, because John Wick doesn’t need to speak to you when all he wants to do is shoot everyone in the face.
The main target of his ire though, is a delightful chap by the name of Iosef Tarasov, as played by Alfie Allen (Game of Thrones), and by extension his mob boss father, Viggo Tarasov, brought to life by Michael Nyqvist (Europa Report). Allen has a knack for playing the snivelling, slightly unbalanced characters, and is quite convincing as the spoiled and materialistic would-be heir to the crime dynasty. Other familiar faces include Willem Dafoe (The Grand Budapest Hotel) and Adrianne Palicki (Agents of SHIELD) as fellow hitmen (and women), along with Ian McShane (Deadwood, etc.) as the Hotel Continental’s proprietor. With an impressive cast, the entirety of which I instantly recognised, John Wick became a film that I decided I had more than a passing, courteous interest in.
The main reason for giving this one a whirl though, is of course, the action. Undoubtedly the product of two stuntmen directors (Chad Stahelski, David Leitch), the action sequences are frequent, and a lot of fun. Stylistically, I feared that this level and type of violence could easily take a sharp turn down Comic Book Lane, but it never did. Throughout the choreography remained clear, sharp, often inelegant, but always engaging. The close-quarters gun combat gave each sequence an immediate, dangerous feel, and the stunt work from all involved, Reeves included, was very impressive.
It certainly doesn’t take place in our realistic world as we know it, and there are other elements of the setting that I might have liked to see explored more extensively. The script, in general, left a little to be desired and was often predictable, but then, revenge themed films usually are. Having said all that, we watch flicks like these for pure, unadulterated, action entertainment. John Wick will give you that – it’s cool, it’s slick, it’s gun-slinging, total shoot ’em up madness. And if that’s what you’re into, then you’ll definitely be into this.
IMDB Rating: 7.2
Do I agree?: Oh, yes. Move over Neeson, because there’s a new middle-aged martial arts messiah in town.