Published on October 24th, 2014 | by Ryan Guerra0
“An ex-hitman comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that took everything from him.” That is the synopsis of this movie. And that pretty much sums it up. This film isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel and it isn’t trying to be smart, but it is trying to be fun and that is exactly what it is.
Keanu Reeves as John Wick, channels his inner “Neo” with slightly more emotion to track down the gangsters who wronged him. Wick is such a “bad-ass” that the Russian mob refers to him as the man you send to kill the boogieman. The action is entertaining and the gun kata is especially fun to watch but there is no point where you ever feel Wick is in danger.
The most intriguing element of this film is the underground world of assassins where we learn and understand its rules and code. Unfortunately, the film does not develop this society enough which is a shame, because they have decent elements to create a series of films on this aspect alone.
Ultimately, unless you are just looking for the quick escapism of an action film, there really is no reason to go see this in the theaters and pay full price. Check it out as a matinee or even a rental. It is entertaining action, but once it is over, it is also quickly forgotten.
2.5 out of 5 stars
Review by Neil Jordan
Greetings & Salutations Once Again Fellow Movie Viewers!
The string of excellent fall movies continues …. This time, we’re returning to the action genre with Keanu Reeves in the title role of the action thriller ‘John Wick’ . Yes, we’ve seen Keanu in action films before but NOT like this.
Marking the directorial debut of co-directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch (Hollywood stunt man and stunt coordinator known for his work in The Matrix Trilogy and as stunt double for the likes of Brad Pitt and Jean-Claude Van Damme) and written by Derek Kolsatd, ‘John Wick’ stars a who’s who of Hollywood favorites including Keanu Reeves, William Dafoe, Bridget Moynahan, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, Adrianne Palicki, Alfie Allen, Michael Nyqvist, Dean Winters, and Jason Issacs.
The story begins with a funeral …. John (Reeves) is morning the loss of his wife Helen (Moynahan) after battling a fatal illness. While grieving her lose, he receives a final gift from her she sent shortly before her death … A puppy and a final message explaining how they both knew the illness would catch up to her eventually and that he should continue on and live life.
As John is trying to carry out his wife’s last wishes, not long after thieves storm his home and assault him intending to steal his car and in the process, brutally kill his dog. Swearing revenge upon the perpetrators who took away his wife’s final gesture of love John seeks out the assailants only to discover that the leader is the son of John’s former employer Russian Mafia boss Viggo Tarasov. Enraged upon learning of his son’s grave error, Viggo explains to his son Iosef (Allen) that the man he assaulted and stole from was not just another victim but that he is John Wick …. The John Wick …. formerly retired enforcer/hitman for Viggo’s syndicate. After a futile attempt to negotiate with Wick, Viggo immediately puts out a hit on John, an open contract awarded to the first assassin to eliminate John before he can take his revenge upon losef. Making matters even worse for John (which up until this point, you think it couldn’t get any worse), Viggo even calls in John’s best friend Marcus to eliminate John. What happens next is nothing short of a killing spree that could only be compared to a ‘Wrath Of God’ scenario as John begins his rampage from his home to New York City and leaves nothing but a trail of bodies from hit squads to assassins in his wake.
I went into this movie thinking Keanu was just going to take what he learned from The Matrix Trilogy and use it as a template and make a copy in this movie. I freely admit it … I was wrong and I’m so glad I was. This film was excellent! In my mind, a stand-out action film. It is like nothing else I can recall seeing Keanu in before. This was carefully and methodically choreographed action movie reminiscent of the Hong Kong action films like ‘A Better Tomorrow’ and ‘Hard Boiled’ that John Woo and Chow Yun-Fat made in the late 80’s and early 90’s combined with a strong supporting cast of Hollywood veterans and newcomers.
The relationship between title character and William Dafoe’s character Marcus was interesting as well. As you see one former hitman and another hitman …. Good friends but also rivals, as they try ‘act human’ in each other’s presence. In particular when Marcus attends the funeral of John’s wife Helen. It’s different when you see John interact with other assassins later on in the movie … Between the killing sprees. Ian McShane and John Leguizamo performances were excellent although brief in the film. Not to mention Adrianne Palicki. For some a reason despite her work on ‘Agents Of S.H.E.I.L.D.’, I was a bit suspicious of her casting in the movie but again I freely admit I was wrong and I’m glad I was because she knocked it out of the park.
On top of being a great action film, they put together excellent sound track for the movie orbiting the talents of Le Castle Vania, M86 & Susie Q, the Candy Shop Boys, Tyler Bates, Joel J. Richard.
This definitely another action film to be included in anyone’s movie collection. Obviously NOT one for the kids though. It starts of slow only because the beginning of the film sets up the whole premise for the movie but other than that, I don’t have a bad thing to say in regards to this film.
Well done Keanu …. Well done indeed! This one gets 4 out of 5 stars. The film isn’t ‘groundbreaking’ but it’s certainly worth seeing! As I described it earlier … A carefully and methodically choreographed action film.
On behalf of my fellows at ‘Skewed & Reviewed’ this is your friendly neighborhood freelance photographer “The CameraMan” saying thanks for reading and we’ll see you at the movies!