Directed by: David Leitch and Chad Stahelski
Written by: Derek Kolstad
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Willem Dafoe, Adrianne Palicki, John Leguizamo, Bridget Moynahan, Dean Winters, Ian McShane and Lance Reddick
Admit it, you wrote Keanu Reeves off a long time ago as a has-been action star. You’ll quickly realize the error of your ways when you step into the bloody, fantastic world of John Wick. Prepare to be transfixed. Wick is a non-stop orgy of action and mayhem and it’s hands down the most exciting film of the year.
Reeves plays the title character, an ex-hitman who retired from the trade when he settled down and got married. His domestic bliss is short-lived when his wife passes away. Her final gift to him, a puppy, arrives at his house after her funeral. Unfortunately, some miscreants break into his house, steal his beloved ’69 mustang and kill his dog. Bad mistake.
With precious little to lose, John is a force to be reckoned with when he sets out on a path of destruction in pursuit of the men who wronged him. God help anyone who stands in his way. The main culprit happens to be the son of Viggo (Michael Nyqvist), a Russian mobster John used to work for. When Viggo finds out what his son has done (and who he did it to) you can practically see his blood turn to ice. In a desperate attempt to prevent the inevitable, Viggo puts out a contract on John’s head.
John digs up his cache of firearms and checks into a swank hotel that caters to a clientele of assassins. The unflappable hotel manager Charon (Lance Reddick) speaks the code of the trade; when John calls for a dinner reservation, Charon sends up the (body) cleaners. Noise disturbance takes on an entirely different meaning in this safe house.
The bulk of the action takes place in the bowels of a hedonistic nightclub. John is indiscriminate as to who he murders on his rampage, and the bodies fly while strobe lights pulsate in time to a thumping techno soundtrack. The effect is both frenetic and hypnotic.
Wick is light on plot and dialogue but it’s brutally visceral. Directors David Leitch and Chad Stahelski are both seasoned Hollywood stuntmen, and it shows. The choreography in the hand-to-hand combat scenes is technically spectacular. It’s a beautiful thing to watch.
Reeves (now 50) handles the action with ease. This is the perfect role for him. He’s mangy and gruff and totally believable as a man who doesn’t care if he lives or dies in the pursuit of vengeance. Willem Dafoe and Adrianne Palicki co-star as assassins on Wick’s tail.
The music in Wick deserves a mention. The largely techno soundtrack is perfectly suited to the action, particularly in a long take sequence taking place in the club. The scene is set to “Shots Fired” by Le Castle Vania and every time I listen to that song my hair stands on end. Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard provide the original score.
Wick is not going appeal to mainstream audiences, it’s far too violent. But for those of us who like our action served cold and bloody, it’s not to be missed. – Shannon