I didn’t know much about John Wick when I decided to watch the movie. The only thing I’d really heard about this one was that Keanu Reeves’ performance is top notch and honestly speaking, how often do you hear that sort of feedback when it comes to his acting? Now, I’m not saying this to be mean, I’m stating it because it’s true.
A lot of people hate Keanu Reeves’ acting...
...and they’re pretty vocal about it. Moviegoers and critics alike often complain that his performances tend to lack emotion and depth, but I beg to differ. Reeves is underrated and a good actor. In this movie, though, he’s great.
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John Wick’s story is one that you’ve heard many times before. You've seen movies made about it, books written about it, and entire lives wrapped up in it—revenge is Wick’s objective, and the only sort of meaning he has left in this crazy world.
We first meet John just after the death of his wife, Helen (Bridget Moynahan). He’s attempting to go through the motions of daily existence when he receives a final gift from the woman that he loved dearly and lost tragically. It seems Helen sent him a puppy, so that he’d have an outlet for all the love he would undoubtedly have left to give, after her passing. Helen wanted him to focus on something positive while he attempted to move forward from their loss and a puppy seemed like the perfect gift.
Daisy the puppy was indeed a great gift and Wick takes a liking to her immediately. She brings a little silliness and a lot of warmth to John's otherwise cold and stark reality. He's appreciative and ends up taking her everywhere with him. John even lets Daisy hang out with him in his car--the other love of his life--an insanely sexy Mustang. It's clear from the start that there are few things in this world which John Wick truly loves and now that his wife is dead, his dog and that car, top the list.
One dreary day, Wick and Daisy run into a pack of gangsters at their local gas station. After complimenting his stunning vehicle, one of the guys--the son of a powerful mobster--offers Wick whatever price he wants for his ’69 Mustang. John quickly tells him the car isn't for sale and attempts to leave, but before he can, the guy loses his temper. Offended, the bratty and entitled bad guy threatens him for refusing. Unfazed, John moves on and out of harms way, for now.
Rather predictably, these guys come back and take the two things John has left: his car and his dog. And that’s when it happens--that’s when we finally get to meet the old John Wick. It turns out, John’s a former tough guy. He used to kill people for a living and he did so epically. He's the "boogey man," the guy that gives mobsters nightmares and he'll stop at nothing to exact revenge on the men that took the last sliver of sunshine from his world.
I know what you're thinking: this story has been done a million times and it’s been forever since a formulaic revenge story, such as the one described above, has been worth watching. Welp, what can I say? You're right. It has been a long time, but the wait is now over. John Wick is here to drop kick some stylized action into your life and you will thank him for it. Trust me.
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This movie essentially reaches into your torso, grabs a hold of your adrenal glands and squeezes some acute fun into your existence for about two hours. John Wick is exciting to watch and nice to look at. The action sequences are expertly choreographed and Reeves did almost all his own stunts. This combination makes for flawlessly executed action which will keep you happily immersed in Wick's underworld. Oh, and before I forget, Keanu Reeves knocks this performance out of the park.
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Directors David Leitch & Chad Stahelski are great at building tension while simultaneously delivering the consistent amounts of energy needed to keep this story moving at an appropriate pace. Although the core concept of this film—former hit man gone good, goes bad again following personal tragedy—feels a bit too familiar at first, the directors skillfully distract from that and focus our attention on the updated story telling via sharp and fluid visuals.
Keanu Reeves delivers a performance that’s equal parts terrifying, vulnerable and endearing. He’s the quintessential anti-hero in John Wick and you will have no option but to root for him, no matter how many people he kills mercilessly. Once you’re introduced to Wick’s past as a former hit man, Leitch and Stahelski will not allow you to forget that there’s a reason the man is feared and respected, even by the kingpins of the underworld. Reeves performance will keep you invested in this movie even after you've figured out where the story is taking you. He's cold, but emotive, distant and determined. He painstakingly builds a character that seems familiar, but is unlike anything you've seen before.
John Wick is heavy on the action and uses laughter to smooth out the violent edges. There are just enough belly laughs and chuckles in this movie to break up the murder and mayhem. Keanu Reeves does funny well and the comedy compliments John Wick’s personality nicely. Leitch and Stahelski tie together all these elements with a fresh and sleek approach, updating a somewhat tired plot.
If you're looking for a good time and you want a little action, John Wick is your man. The quick pace, insanely entertaining action sequences and top shelf performances from Keanu Reeves as well as Willem Dafoe and John Leguizamo, make this movie memorable. The dark comedy and stylized visuals will satiate all of your entertainment needs in just under two hours. What more could you ask for?
John Wick - B+
B+ = Give this one a go for sure. You will most likely enjoy it and if / when it comes on cable, you will probably watch it through to the end, regardless of your starting point.
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