One word sums up the style, look and whole nature of John Wick: Cool. Director Chad Stahelski didn’t try anything complicated. Instead he made a movie which took a wronged man, lots of Russian mobsters and some cool fight-sequences and ultra-violence and threw them together. Whether by design or chance, John Wick manages to capture the imagination and for the first two acts at least, have you heavily invested in the hitman’s quest for revenge.
It helps that the world of John Wick is so rich with potential history. The movie drops you into a world with knowing glances, half-conversations and shared past. It means that the audience is left to fill in the blanks and wants to know more about The Boogeyman John Wick. This is also because Wick is so perfectly described and alluded too before Keanu Reeves gets to kill anyone.
This is done in two great ways. First by giving little away about the main character and showing only the guarded, mourning individual who loves his dog and his car. The second is when the events which start the movie’s plot occurs and rather than show Reeves’ hitman dishing out justice, we get the panic of the villains, building up Wick to be the bad-ass he manages to portray for the rest of the movie.
If you want cool skills, choreographed action and a man who can handle huge fight sequences, you can do a lot worse than Keanu Reeves. He has already shown his skills in The Matrix, handling the martial arts brilliantly and his sword-play in 47 Ronin is about the only decent element. The same can be said for the brutal action sequences here.
The moment that Reeves starts to kill and brutally dispatch the faceless goons sent his way, the movie really comes alive. Everything is silky, slick and perfectly shot, with Reeves making moves which look effortless. It means you really believe how skilled he is and it shows that Reeves has put the effort in.
Luckily, this means that we don’t have to pay much attention to Reeves dodgy acting skills. He has never been known for his acting credentials and here he does little more than whisper menacingly and shout occasionally. People watching John Wick for the dramatic turns by each character are watching it for the wrong reasons.
This is a movie about revenge and it ticks the boxes. Reeves gets to do all the classic revenge thriller checkpoints, from threatening the villain over the phone, sneakily dispatching the henchmen and getting the big, one versus all finale.
This is when the movie begins to lose it’s way. Reeves and his quest for justice can only go so far. The movie seems to tie-up loose ends too soon and then starts a whole new quest. Unfortunately, the new quest doesn’t have your investment like the original one did and it means that you are watching a pedestrian, kill by numbers finale which we have seen many times before, recently in Liam Neeson movies.
Overall, John Wick demonstrates that Reeves has what it takes to be an action movie star and can do the slick, choreographed stunts that the movie requires. The film requires a lot and the fast-paced, cool action will have you rooting for John Wick to get his revenge. Unfortunately, it slightly over-reaches and you are left with a third act which fails to deliver what the first two acts promise.
Rating – 3.5
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)