John Wick is a 2014 neo-noir action thriller directed by Chad Stahelski and stars Keanu Reeves as the titular character along with Willem Dafoe and Tyler Nyqvist.
John Wick is a retired assassin whose wife passes away from a fatal illness. John receives a puppy as a final gift from his wife to help him cope with his grief. One day at a gas station, a group of Russian thugs who are there ask for John to sell them his luxurious car. John refuses, but the thugs refuse to take no for answer. They follow John home and beat him to a bloody pulp; stealing his car and killing his puppy in the process. John then sets out on a revenge tour to find the thugs.
This is an action film that really brings it, and that might seem a little hard to believe given the rather simple plot. It's not the revenge aspect where John Wick tries to excel, but it's in the fast-paced, kinetic action scenes that don't have that Fast & Furious feel to them. That's because we watch Reeves kick ass in a stylish and neo-noir style that doesn't rely on annoying shaky cam or 300-esque slow motion. Action movies should be fast, and John Wick is fast. It also has purpose and is devoid of cheap silliness.
- The most notable action scene is when Wick is running through a dance club trying to hunt down one of the main thugs. He's punching, kicking, and shooting his way through a barrage of bad guys, but Wick just keeps going like a hawk determined to catch its prey. The neo-noir lighting is dark, yet elegant. The whole sequence is the best example of how stylish and non-stop the film is. It's one of those scenes that I would go up to a friend and say, "You gotta see this scene. It's just so cool."
- I think this film has done wonders for Reeves, as this film looks to be the start of a new franchise. He's nobody new to action, as the 1990s proved to us with Point Break, Speed, and The Matrix. But Reeves hasn't starred in anything truly noteworthy since the Matrix trilogy, and this film has breathed new life into his acting career. I don't know how many John Wicks there will be, but if Reeves can keep delivering the goods, I will support him all the way.
- The movie has the Lord of the Rings: Return of the King issue, in that it has about 200 endings. Just when you believe that the film is seemingly over, it comes back with another scene, and then another and then another. You can still easily convince yourself that it's not over because you'll ask yourself, "Wait a minute, there's still this bad guy running around. What about them?" Several remaining loose ends are tied up in a rushed manner, and that to me speaks to the film having a slightly too short run time. I think an extra 5-10 minutes would have been beneficial.
So what if John Wick is a standard revenge story? The action is plentiful, exciting, and stylistic. With a revamped Keanu Reeves at the helm, I don't see what there is to complain about. John Wick is a modern stand out of a genre that is overly-cliched and illogical far too often.
Recommend? Yes, especially if you love action movies
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