There is something primal about watching a revenge film. It speaks to the part deep down in all of us, that is tired of being stepped on and the cathartic release of watching someone say, "enough is enough." John Wick is that kind of movie. Except for Wick doesn't make statements with his mouth. John Wick makes statements with his guns.
Keanu Reeves plays Wick, a legendary former hit-man. He was "who they call to get the Boogeyman." However, that was years in the past, before he fell in love and straightened out his life. However, his wife tragically develops cancer and dies. Her final act was sending Wick a puppy as her last gift, giving him something to love. After a chance meeting with a gangster in a gas station, Wick is followed home and badly beaten. The robbers take his car and kill the brand new puppy. This all happens days after losing his wife. Needless to say it drives him nuts and every Russian mobster in his path, will pay with their life.
John Wick sits firmly in B-movie territory, however what elevates the movie and makes it more fun than most others, is Reeves' performance, combined with a surprisingly competent supporting cast. John Leguizamo plays the owner of the chop shop who correctly identifies Wick's car when it comes in. There is a humorous usage of editing in this sequence, which really adds flavor to the film and highlights how legendary Wick is in the underworld. William Dafoe and Adrianne Palicki, are former colleagues who have been contracted to kill Wick, once it's clear that he is beyond reasoning with. While Michael Nyqvist and Alfie Allen, play the mustache twirling villains of the piece and both do serviceable jobs.
Something odd happened when I left the theater after watching John Wick. For about the next two hours I literally felt like I could take out an entire room of a-holes on my own too. It is part of the charm of 1980's and 90's heroes, they didn't use superpowers. They just needed a gun, an extra clip and the ability to not get shot in return. Reeve's portrayal is a descendant of that tradition, however, he also adds a touch of martial arts and John Woo gun-slinging flair. It is such a specific skill-set that the directors, David Leitch and Chad Stahelski, have coined it "gun-fu." It is one part ballet, the other part a bullet to the head.
The directors include a notion that has been familiar to fans of video-games and The Walking Dead for years. If you shoot someone in the head...they are dead. If John Wick were playing Call of Duty, you would have him investigated for cheating, because when he shoots he rarely misses...your head. And in the rare case he does miss at blowing your brains out, he always comes back to make sure he blows your brains out. He is a professional at headshots and clearly takes his job seriously. The action is fluid and brutally efficient, while not being heavy on gore. He could go hand-to-hand, but he would much rather grab a Russian by the beard, slam them down on a table and shoot them in the head. (Yea it's a spoiler...but trust me...its not the only time.)
The movie world of John Wick is also surprising because it operates under its own set of quirky rules. There is a fully realized secret society of hit-men. Where their currency are gold tokens and when they get wounded they check into a specialized hit-man recovery hotel, complete with medical staffs. Oh and the police...Even they know better than to trifle with John Wick, which is shown in an extremely humorous scene. Once this wacky world is established, it really enables you to let go of the logistics and just enjoy the ride.
If The Equalizer was the thinking man's revenge movie, this is the action man's revenge movie. Cold-blooded, stylish, and energetic, John Wick is the perfect movie to kick back and say "daaaaaaamn!" While it is clear that they left the door open for sequels, hopefully this allows Reeves to get a few more high profile action roles. After watching this, it is clear that he is criminally underused. It's not the perfect movie, but it is probably the movie you want. John Wick is B-movie fun, running on all cylinders.
So what did you think of John Wick? Let us know on the comment boards!
Source: Point of Geeks