A dude’s dog gets dead. Dude does revenge. Big style.
If you’re at all interested in action cinema you’ve likely been hearing about John Wick for quite a while – a supposed return to form for Keanu Reeves that’s said to be the best action flick for quite some time.
I got the chance to catch the film on a recent trip to the US and, given that it’s not set to debut across the pond until April 2015, thought I’d put together a review, especially as the filmmakers just confirmed a sequel is already in development.
John Wick is an extremely self-aware piece of cinema in everything from its casting to the way in which its action scenes are crafted. I mean, this is a revenge flick which – on paper at least – is all about a guy getting revenge for the death of his dog.
So it already has a sense of the absurd about it going in, and everyone involved does a good job of keeping the sense of winking to the audience alive throughout the 101 minute running time.
Wick is an action film, and serves up plenty of shooty stuff throughout. It’s almost entirely gun based, and co-directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch have a great time mixing up locations, limitations and weapons. Reeve’s character is a consummate killer, dancing around enemies delivering head shots left and right in a gun-fu display that’s fast and fluid and fun.
The uniquely stylised visuals look great on screen and make the most of the $20 million budget, with only the slightly iffy car chase feeling a bit lacking in oomph. And a decent cast of faces, including Ian McShane, Willem Defoe and Adrianne Palicki bring some fine gravitas to proceedings.
As Wick, Reeves is fine. His physical performance is strong and committed and his delivery has improved with the years but he’s still ferociously lacking in personality. And that’s something the film doesn’t quite nail either – it lacks the quirky identity of something like Crank or even Shoot ‘Em Up and never really feels as energetic as you want it to.
John Wick is a more serious affair than you might have been led to believe with cast and crew taking the ridiculous storyline in a po-faced manner reduces the fun factor. But the action scenes are plentiful and mostly well-handled, though you might tire of constant bloody headshots by the time the credits roll.