Keanu Reeves is in need of a hit and finally he may have found an unlikely one.
John Wick (Reeves) has a great life, nice house, beautiful wife and cool car. When his wife dies from some generic illness in the first reel, he manages to bury all his love into the cute puppy his wife arranged to have couriered to him after her death.
When pumping gas one day he stumbles on some movie stereotyped Russian villains, one of which takes a shine to his car. Before you can say “Dasvidanya”, the ruffians are smashing up the house, stealing the car and most importantly and against all movie conventions, creating a dog vs iron bar interface. These are not spoilers, the trailer helpfully provides these details.
Of course the sneering arrogant ruffian turns out to be Iosef (Alfie Allen) the only son of very bad Russian guy Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist), straight out of central casting. He knows what sleeping monster his son has awoken and is afraid, almost philosophical on his chances, despite his paid for army.
John Wick is not just a doting husband, vintage car collector and puppy lover. He also kills people, lots of people in imaginative ways, including a pencil, apparently. Previously a celebrated hit man for hire, he retired but following recent events, is finding the quiet life a little restrictive.
In a film that could have been subtitled “everyone must die”, John Wick wants revenge, lots of it.
Like “Taken” on speed but without the cool monologues, Reeves then literally shoots through the hordes of disposable henchmen using guns, lots of guns.
Reeves knows how to act cool in his sleep and Director Chad Stahelski, clearly knows how film action sequences underscored with cool dance-beats and slow-mo sequences. We get to meet another couple of assassins (Marcus) Willem Defoe and Ms. Perkins (Adrianne Palicki), who may or may not be helpful in his quest, which appears to be, kill everyone.
There are numerous plot holes and the whole set-up is quite preposterous of course, swathes of baddies are gunned down, the odds are absurd and yet it is done with some style and with it’s tongue firmly in it’s cheek. Although clearly they forgot to tell Reeves, who plays it straight throughout.
Interesting slightly fantastical elements are added, a hotel for assassins where “non whacking rules” are observed, even Ian McShane gets a look in with nary an antique in sight
The violence is strong and body count sky high, but always feels CGI augmented as if all the blood and guts were added in post. The film might as well have been titled “John Wick: Everyone must die”
Fun in a disposable action movie way, certainly better than some recent Reeves output and providing enough box office on a small budget of $20M to spawn a sequel.