Main cast: Keanu Reeves (John Wick), Michael Nyqvist (Viggo Tarasov), Alfie Allen (Iosef Tarasov), Adrianne Palicki (Ms Perkins), Bridget Moynahan (Helen Wick), Dean Winters (Avi), Ian McShane (Winston), Lance Reddick (Charon), John Leguizamo (Aurelio), and Willem Dafoe (Marcus)
Director: Chad Stahelski
Iosef Tarasov is the arrogant, entitled son of a Russian mobster. One day, he spots a vintage 1969 Boss 429 Mustang that he really, really wants. The owner, John Wick, refuses to sell, however, so he and his men broke into John’s home, beat him into unconsciousness, and steal away the car. Oh, and they kill his dog while they are at it, just because.
Well, hold the celebration – Iosef soon learns from his father Viggo that John was a former assassin. One of the best, in fact, as John went on a killing spree in one single night in exchange for Viggo letting him retire, hence cementing his reputation as the Baba Yaga, and that dog was the last gift from John’s recently deceased beloved wife. As you can imagine, John now wants to even the score, and many people are going to either get hurt or die before he is done.
John Wick is a bit of a revelation in that it ditches the more contemporary style of relying on CGI, cuts, and poor lighting to give the illusion of breakneck violence. In a wonderful throwback to no-nonsense punch-fu and gun-fu films of the 1980s, this one sees the action scenes all being filmed in one – or what seems cleverly made to look like one – continuous scene. Hence, there is a real kind of rawness to this one. Coupled to some gracefully, deliberately bombastic choreography that combines adrenaline rush with stylish poises, this one is like a homage to slick noir-thrillers from the those good old days.
I also enjoy how John Wick is not a superhuman fellow mowing down his enemies. He’s five years out of practice, after all, and he gets beaten down and wounded as much as he beats down and wounds his opponents. Like all good movies of this kind, his antagonism here with Viggo Tarasov – they go way back – isn’t entirely personal. Viggo seems to enjoy the deadly cat and mouse game he is playing with John, heh.
Keanu Reeves is not the more expressive actor around, but his limited range is a nice fit for this role. The rest of the cast are fine to watch too. This movie also has several interesting secondary characters, such as the droll yet deadly owner of a hotel that serves as a neutral ground for criminals, an adorable owner of a professional clean-up crew that helps dispose of dead bodies and evidences of homicide, and more.
While this one doesn’t have much of a plot other than our protagonist wanting revenge, an eye for an eye style, it is a most entertaining movie. It’s fun; I’ve had fun. John Wick is more than alright, it’s an exhilarating wild ride of sorts.