Director: Chad Stahelski Starring: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist & Alfie Allen Synopsis: An ex-hitman comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that took everything from him Rating: 15 Run time: 101 minutes Release date: April 10 (UK)
It’s hard to dislike a film like John Wick, with its charismatic lead and well choreographed fight scenes, John Wick is the perfect film for leaving your brain at the door and watching the main character kill a lot of people. The films simple premise and reliance on its star, Keanu Reeves, make for a welcoming double act as the audience can easily sit back and enjoy this Taken like ride.
It seems like a long time since Keanu Reeves was a relevant name in Hollywood cinema. Sure, his name will always have that star studded factor to it, but with recent blockbuster efforts such as 47 Ronin and The Day the Earth Stood Still failing to have the desired effect at the box office or with critics, John Wick is a welcome return for one of Hollywood’s biggest names.
The beauty behind John Wick lies in the films simplicity, harking back to a simpler time in the action genre when things were a little more black and white. All you need to know about John Wick is set up in the films first fifteen minutes; after losing his wife to an unexplained (to the audience) illness, he inherits a puppy which alleviates the pain he suffered after the death of his spouse.
Of course, this being a revenge film, Wick’s sudden glimmer of hope is taken away from him when a young upstart in the Russian mafia takes a shine to Wick’s ’69 Mustang. Despite the car not being for sale, Iosef (Alfie Allen) is determined to take that which is not his. A home invasion on John Wick’s hillside retreat then ensues late in the night, where Iosef and his cronies steal the Mustang, beat Wick to a bloody mess and, most drastically of all, kill his dog.
This sets off a series of events involving John’s mentor, the Russian mafia and a bounty being placed on John’s in order to stop him from getting what he wants the most, the head of Iosef for the wrongs he has committed against him.
The film, much like its protagonist, takes no time in getting to the point. With Wick’s character and the story set up within in the first fifteen or so minutes, the remainder of the film travels at a brisk pace as our hero moves from one villain to the next, taking enemies down in ruthless fashion. The sight of Reeves stalking his prey through rough New York streets and dodgy nightclubs is a wonder to behold.
Perhaps mesmerising is a word not often used to describe any performance of Keanu Reeves, but in John Wick, his performance is exactly that. Both director and actor play to their stars’ strengths, and it is perhaps knowingly that Reeves is not given a great deal to say. He is not given a Taken style monologue that will become famous and appear on meme’s for years to come, but as the old saying goes, actions speak louder than words.
Alongside Reeves are a cast of character actors that litter the screen, with Michael Nyqvist and Lance Reddick threatening to steal each scene they’re in. Ian McShane also shows up as a hotel owner, which is a safe haven for contract killers, while John Leguizamo makes an all too brief cameo as a garage owner serving the mob, it is just a shame that he is not in the film for longer.
Taken for what it is, John Wick is a wickedly entertaining revenge thriller, that doesn’t outstay its welcome, and actually leaves you wanting more.
In summary: A tense, edgy thriller from first time director Chad Stahelski, with Reeves on fine form once again.