Starring: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Adrianne Palicki, Bridget Moynahan, Dead Winters, Ian Mc Shane, John Leguizamo, Willem Dafoe.
Year Of Release: 2015 (UK)
Certificate: 15 (UK)
Runtime: 101 Minutes
Director: Chad Stahelski & David Leitch (uncredited)
Synopsis: "An ex-hitman comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that took everything from him." IMDB
Another woefully misunderstood film, I've seen many reviews attacking this film, what did you expect from a Keanu Reeves driven Action film? A Robert De Niro acted, Oscar worthy film? Get the heck out of here, you can NOT judge all films based on the same factors, it is the equivalent of comparing say Godfather Part II and A Nightmare On Elm Street, both incredible films in their genre but holding them up against the Academy standards A Nightmare On Elm Street would be instantly brushed aside. Which is something that really irks me, I bet I could drive the Academy driven critics insane to say Birdman was a -100/10 if I were to hold it to the same standards as A Nightmare On Elm Street, because that rating would be perfectly acceptable in comparison, it is just highly unfair to compare films that are so different in their target audience and the aim of the film.
The film was directed by Chad Stahleski and David Leitch who are widely known for their stunt work, or at least they should be known for it, their collective filmography includes the likes of The Matrix, The Crow, S.W.A.T and Van Helsing, so to say they are well versed in the world of stunts and action is an understatement. So the choice to have them direct the widely coveted script by Derek Kolstad makes perfect sense, at its core "John Wick" a revenge film that is brutal and doesn't mess around at all. Hard to believe that this is the directorial debut of both Stahleski and Leitch, their work comes across as truly experienced directors within the given genre. After this film I can see them going very far in the action world, easy to see why they were given a John Wick 2 and are being touted for an upcoming DCCU film.
The film starts out with Wick losing his wife to some sort of illness (details never given to the audience, not needed at all), he inherits a Beagle puppy from his late to help cope with her passing. He quickly falls in love with the pup, spending all his time with her and his '69 Mustang. The Mustang which catches the eye of a young member of the Russian mafia, who tries to persuade him to sell the car. Iosef (Alfie Allen) not accepting of Wicks decision to completely shoot down any sale decides to take the car. Iosef and his "gang" break into the house to rob the car, beat Wick to within an inch of his life and more disturbing of all kill his dog. These events reactive Wick into his previous life he left behind as a mafia hitman, so now Wick is set to destroy any members that get in his way of an organisation of which he was once an employee.
This is the film that came bring Reeves back from some of his recent performances which I highly recommend you stay away from the likes of "Henry's Crime", "47 Ronin" and "Generation Um" come to mind. However, this time around Keanu gave a solid performance as the films titular character, Keanu done everything right to portray which emotions he needed, plus his background in martial arts really blended well with the directors choice to use "gun-fu" which if you are not familiar with, once you watch this you will understand perfectly the phrasing. It was not just Reeves who gave a great performance, other performances shone too from the likes of Michael Nyqvist, Lance Reddick, Paul McShane and the ever enjoyable Adrianne Palicki. It was a genius idea to give Reeves less to say and allow him to use his actions instead of words, what is the old idiom "Actions speak louder than words" it's like that was made for Mr John Wick himself.
The film does not mess around, it gets straight to the point storywise and characterwise, we're straight into the action within the first 15-20 minutes. Which may feel like it will have adverse effects on the pacing of the film, which at the time was a bit of a worry of mine also. Safe to say my reservations were unwarranted, the film ran at a wonderful pace, with Wick moving quickly onto his next henchman to take on in brutally beautiful manors each time. Resulting in a truly wonderful 100 minutes to behold for any Action/Thriller/Martial Arts fan of any age.
Overall, the film was a spectacle in its given genres, edge of the seat Action for 101 minutes be it from Reeves kicking ass or him getting his ass kicked. There is one thing I absolutely LOVED about this film, which was the directors choice to have Wick, once he beat a villain, was to put one/two rounds into their heart/head to make sure they were dead. Seems like something every hitman should do, it just really stood out in this film for me. This film was an incredible watch full of Action and a decent story, which slightly predictable, heck what Action film isn't. I really couldn't recommend this film any higher to fans of the genre or Reeves, if you're a fan of neither, I think this will change your view on either one.