John Wick, a retired hitman is dragged back into business after a gang of thugs break into his home, steal his car and kill his dog (which was a posthumous gift from Wicks dead wife), now he'll relentlessly hunt down the men responsible.
Keanu Reeves, formerly one of Hollywood's biggest action stars had recently been having a bit of a dry spell, but "John Wick" should hopefully change that as this is the actors finest since 1999's "The Matrix".
Reeves' old stunt double Chad Stahelski directed the film along with stunt man David Leitch. The two certainly know they're way around an action scene but did a surprisingly great job with the characters and world around them. John Wick has a rich backstory that is never spoon fed to us, we learn about him through lines of dialogue and character interactions as oppose to flashbacks and montages.
After Russian gangsters break into Wick's home and take everything important to him, the ex man for hire quickly jumps back into action. Unearthing his stash of weapons and hitman currency, Wick is back and he's out for blood.
"John Wick" makes great use of a tired premise. 'An ex bad guy leaves his old life in pursuit of peace but is dragged back in to settle one last score'. It's a concept seen time and time again but "John Wick" reinvigorates this tired formula and makes it feel fresh, thanks to the mesmerizing and brutal action scenes, stylish cinematography and excellent work from Keanu Reeves.
Keanu Reeves is an actor past his prime but doesn't let age hold him back as he dispatches of his foes in excellent fashion. Reeves is now 50 years old but you wouldn't know that from seeing his performance here, he leaps, rolls and kicks ass like he did back in his hay-day. Reeves has never been an actor merited for his excellent performances but always applauded for his work in action and he doesn't disappoint as John Wick.
As well as Reeves, the film boasts and impressive supporting cast; Willem Dafoe, Ian McShane, Adrianne Palicki, Michael Nyqvist and Lance Reddick co star. One of the most impressive things a film can do is contain characters which have a past and a future. By that I mean it is clear to see that these characters have a life outside this particular story and "John Wick" does that better than most action flicks.
Once the simple story is established, the action comes thick and fast. Shootouts in a nightclub, church and Wick's own home were definite standouts. The fighting technique used in the film was referred to as 'Gun-Fu' by the filmmakers and the name pretty much explains it all. Kung Fu hand to hand combat blended with gun fights made for unique and excellently choreographed action scenes.
Although this is Stahelski and Leitch's first directing effort, their experience on set is obvious as this film bears a confidence not often seen in directorial debuts. Stahelski worked as Reeves' stunt double on "The Matrix" trilogy whilst Leitch worked on the "Bourne" films as a stunt double for Matt Damon. These two understand action and refrain from using shaky cam and quick cuts unlike many of today's biggest action films. Instead they let their action play out which is far more entertaining.
Jonathan Sela served as the D.P for the film and did a marvelous job. Early scenes in the film are desaturated to represent Wick's grief, but as the action and story ramp up, the visuals become more vibrant and lively.
Wick along with others in his line of work have an exclusive currency which can be used for body clean ups and stay at a hotel called 'The Continental'. A hotel and bar where others in Wick's line of work can stay to operate business or simply relax on their days off. The hotel acts as a safe zone for hitmen. This is something that needs to be explored more in a potential sequel. Lance Reddick plays the polite manager, Ian McShane plays the owner.
"John Wick" is one of the best action movies you'll see all year, a terrific script, great cast and rich world were a surprising treat, the action and visuals were even better than expected.