I’m seeing the second one in a few days so I might as well see the original first.
Synopsis: After the sudden death of his beloved wife, John Wick receives one last gift from her, a beagle puppy named Daisy, and a note imploring him not to forget how to love. But John’s mourning is interrupted when his 1969 Boss Mustang catches the eye of sadistic thug Iosef Tarasov. When John refuses to sell the car, Iosef and his henchmen break into his house and steal it, beating John unconscious and leaving Daisy dead. Unwittingly, they have just reawakened one of the most brutal assassins the underworld has ever seen. (eOne Films)
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, and Alfie Allen.
Writer: Derek Kolstad
Director: Chad Stahelski
Running Time: 101mins
Keanu Reeves hadn’t done much since the Matrix so it is nice to see him get a new franchise to strut his stuff with John Wick. Here he plays John Wick, a notorious, deadly assassin who has been brought back to life by some Russian mobsters, following the death of his wife Helen (Bridget Moynahan). There was a little more to it, involving a car and a dog, and it was maybe too silly of a premise to initiate the plot but it was easy to forget since the film moved on rather quickly and the rest of the film more than made up for it.
This is a violent film, if you watch carefully. The action was both fast and furious and well executed in every aspect. From the camera work, to the choreography, to the special effects, it was all a joy to watch and some of the best in a long time. Seeing Wick and his general badassery was very satisfying, taking down various bad guys with ease, despite it being mindless. All the action was mindless but not every film has to be cerebral.
The film alluded to Wick’s past as a deadly assassin which was fun to learn, introducing a secret world of assassins with their own set of rules. Getting a glimpse of this world was interesting to see but it would have been nice to see more (and there probably will be more in the next film). We met a few other assassins such as Marcus (Willem Dafoe) and Ms. Perkins (Adrianne Palicki) as well as the leader of the society named Winston (Ian McShane). We also got some great comedic moments between Wick and the manager of an assassin hotel named Charon (Lance Reddick).
The film has a distinctive look. It was very gritty and dark, like the characters, but got too dark sometimes. The set design were rather minimalist but no one will really pay too much attention to them as they will be focusing on the action. The film’s villains (Nyqvist and Allen) weren’t particularly impressive or memorable, never going beyond traditional Russian mobsters. Wick’s quest for revenge was compelling, however, as it was easy to relate to his emotional state. Even though Wick was mostly the silent, stoic man who let his actions do the talking, he still had moments of vulnerability which made him more endearing.
Reeves was excellent as Wick, showing considerable range, balancing both extremes of his character, giving him some depth (with more to come) and making him compelling to watch. He was great in the all the action sequences, fully committing himself to the hand to hand combat and the gun fights. Everyone else was good here and had good chemistry with Reeves but they did not even compare to Wick. It was just Wick, then everybody else, as it probably should.
Overall, this was a great action film, excelling at the action, offering a simple yet compelling revenge story, and featuring an excellent performance from Keanu Reeves.
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