John Wick (2014) – Review

Directed by David Leitch, Chad Stahelski
Written by Derek Kolstad 
Starring Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Willem Dafoe 

An ex-hitman comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that took everything from him.

Don’t ever fondle another mans’ puppies. Well, not unless you know whose puppy it is. And if it belongs to John Wick and the cute little thing is a present from his dead wife, you might want re-think that visit in the dead of night just because you like the look of his car.
Wahay! Keanu’s back! And not before time. Say what you like about his acting ability (and many, many people have) you can’t deny that the man has always had something of a magnetic screen presence. He may be lamenting a lack of studio offers in recent months, but nevertheless, we say keep on keeping on, Neo. Hollywood may not love you as much as when the Wachowski’s were still able to hold a cock fight, but we still do. Okay, so Johnny Mnemonic (and others) happened, but look at that carpet over there, Keanu. Here’s a brush, just start sweeping under it.
Impossibly tough hard men that are essentially good at heart, despite their questionable pasts, are more prevalent than ever in Hollywood these days, not least thanks to the likes of Liam Neeson and the idea that you, as a general rule, should not fuck with them, is not completely original. Ignorance of your unfortunate wrongdoings is no excuse, because when a man like John Wick is wronged, well, you might as back yourself into a quiet little corner, cry for your Mum a bit, and pray. Not that any of this will do you any good, of course.
I guess you could legitimately call John Wick unashamedly brazen. It knows exactly what it is and, well, it’s going to bloody well do it anyway. What’s more, it knows you will love it. The action scenes
are choreographed superbly and the close-quarter gunplay is both refreshing and innovative. The story itself maybe less than original, but the way Leitch and Stahelski go about delivering it is something else entirely. What has been lacking in these generic revenge stories of late was never thrills, but providing thrills and remaining wonderfully cool in the process, which Reeves helps achieve here with bags of it to spare.

In fact, it’s not just Reeves that shines. Michael Nyqvist and Willem Dafoe are both deliciously menacing in their own, albeit less admirable, way. These three combined make this not only exciting for the action junkies, but quite the treat for everyone else too, with surprising levels of acting prowess being bandied around. It is what it is, however, so let’s not expect Thespian levels of performance.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t going to be nominated, far less win awards, this year, but it does provide bundles of satisfaction for the viewer, even if is completely and supremely ridiculous. If it had tried to take itself too seriously, which I am happy to say that it doesn’t, this may have been a completely different review, but if you don’t get at least one or two knowing chuckles out of it, then you may be missing the point. Personally, I haven’t enjoyed an action thriller of this type quite as much since Taken was released. The same feeling of relish is prevalent here for the viewer, even if it is for what may seem initially like nothing more than over-reacting to a stupid mistake by a young man with ideas above his station and no respect for his elders.

Overall, a slick, shiny and slippery little bugger that will impress with it simple ideas told with bags of undeniable flair and maybe more than a nod to days gone by. Never smart enough to test audiences, this is little more than an hour and a half of showing off for Reeves and his Directors. Not the most fulfilling, intellectual or emotional time you’ll have at the cinema this year, but it may come close to being the most fun. If you’re an action fan, I challenge you to leave the cinema at the end without grinning. Recommended.

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