Oh, Keanu. I’ve been waiting for you to do a good action movie again for so long. Because let’s be honest, you’re at your best when you don’t need to rely on acting too much, and you’re allowed to just go around and kick people’s asses. And that is precisely what John Wick does, and does very well. Simply put, it’s a fucking blast, effortlessly combining crazy gun fights with martial arts in one big action packed fiesta. There’s just enough characterization to keep everyone interested, but for the most part the movie lets Keanu cut loose and score some headshots. Lots and lots of headshots.
If you’ve seen the trailer, you already know what the movie is about. John Wick (Reeves) is a retired hitman, left alone to mourn for his recently deceased wife, when a package arrives at his door. As her final gift before she died, she left him a puppy so that he wouldn’t need to mourn alone, and could move on and find peace. Everything is going great for a while, as John and the cutest puppy that ever lived enjoy each other’s company. Then he runs into Iosef Tarasov (Alfie Allen, fucking Theon Greyjoy!) and his group of thugs, who follow him to his house, beat him with a bat, kill his dog, and steal his car. When Iosef’s father, mob boss Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist), finds out his son attacked the legendary John Wick, he goes into full panic mode, hiring some assassins (Willem Dafoe, Adrianne Palicki) to kill John Wick before he literally kills everyone.
The movie doesn’t waste time getting right to the action, and once the bullets and fists start flying things rarely let-up. The action sequences are chaotically beautiful, never relying on that annoying “shaky cam” look so we can actually see everything that’s going on. Which is nice, since the action is so frantic that you don’t want to miss any of its glory.
The great thing about the character John Wick is that he is shown to be an incredibly feared and skilled assassin, but it never goes so far as to make him feel invincible. Yeah, he slaughters hundreds of nameless cronies, but he takes his beatings as well. His gun skills are leagues above anyone else’s, but there are those who can keep up with his hand-to-hand fighting. But he usually still kicks ass at that too. It’s great to see the look of fear on everyone’s face when they learn THE John Wick is coming after them.
Now I’m sure you thinking, “Alright, the action is top-notch. But Shawn, how is the fucking acting?” Well to answer your question, it’s pretty good. There are some spots here and there where some groan-inducing dialogue is present, but overall it’s all pretty good. Keanu has always done well with the strong, silent roles. Alfie Allen is absolutely detestable as the spoiled mobster brat Iosef. Michael Nyqvist produces many of the laughs with his deadpan performance as mob boss Viggo. Willem Dafoe is great as always in his supporting role as an old friend of John’s. There isn’t a glaring weak link amongst the cast, which may have been the nicest surprise of the movie.
If you like action movies, then you’ll love John Wick. Gun fights and martial arts are blended together perfectly to make a big glorious mess of blood and bullets. There are laughs to be had, tears to be shed (that puppy was too cute to die), and fun to be, um, had. It’s just a cool movie, simple as that. In response to Maximus Decimus Meridius, yes I am entertained.
My Score: 8.5 out of 10