Film Review – John Wick
Keanu Reeves, guns, hitmen, and Russian bad guys: those are four things that you will see a lot of in John Wick. It is an independently-produced film that takes some risks behind the scenes, but comes out being a solid action film that is bound to be a must see for anyone who enjoys the genre.
The film centers around John Wick (Keanu Reeves), a hitman who retired from the field when he met his wife (Bridget Moynahan). When his wife dies of an illness, he begins to go on with his life, picking up the pieces. It does not take long for trouble to find him. Iosef (Alfie Allen, Game of Thrones) spots John and his really nice Ford Mustang at a gas station. John won’t sell him the car. Iosef decides to break into John’s house in the middle of the night, beat him, kill his dog, and take the car. Wrong move, Iosef. Iosef’s father is Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), head of a Russian crime organization. Viggo gets wind that Iosef stupidly chose the wrong person to mess with. John Wick is a legendary hitman who helped Viggo’s organization get to where it is today. Knowing John, Viggo puts a hit out on John to try to save his son. This is very simply a film about revenge.
John Wick comes from two first-time directors, David Leitch and Chad Stahelski. However, both are film industry veterans having done stunts on many major film productions. Derek Kolstad wrote the screenplay, and this is his first major release. With two directors with a heavy stunt background, one would assume that the stunts in John Wick would be pretty good, and they are. This is an action-heavy film that is low on character development and any story leading up to the gritty action. The audience knows exactly who everyone is and what their motivations are in the story, everything else is gravy for an audience looking for some great fight scenes and gun play.
What sets John Wick apart from all the other action films this year? For one, Keanu Reeves. I have long been a Keanu Reeves fan, but it seems Hollywood does not love him as much as I do. His last studio-backed film was 47 Ronin and it did not do well at the box office. Even if you do not like Keanu in dramatic roles, you have to agree that he is solid on his stunt work, and John Wick is another prime example of what he is capable of doing. Directors Leitch and Stahelski did not stay completely within the action film norm. At several points in the film, it reminded me of a graphic novel with the way certain scenes were shot and framed. The subtitles also lent to the graphic novel feel with their placement and emphasis on certain words. Finally, there are no sex scenes or female love interests. Other than the brief appearance of the wife, the only other female character is another hitman played by Adrianne Palicki.
John Wick is a solid action film, with enough guns, treachery, and great stunts to please the targeted audience. It has a great cast and enough new elements to keep it interesting. Keanu Reeves has the potential to become a great action star, and I would rather see him armed with a gun and some killer stunts than any other established action star right now. Hollywood, please take note.