Review: John Wick


John Wick’s face is an implacable calm as he squeezes his trigger – once in a multitude of clicks, each resulting in a bang and a spritz of blood.

Welcome to the world of a revenge-crazed professional hitman, and boy, does it pique our deep lust for the ultra violent.

Keanu Reeves plays the eponymous John Wick in this 101-minute tour de force take on an ailing genre that hasn’t seen much fresh air in recent times. In fact, the last movie classified as an “assassin” flick opened a whopping 8 months ago. Yet, in the world of Jason Bourne and Bryan Mills, John Wick stands on its own 2 feet as a hitman’s tale of a different class – frenetic in energy, but still managing to exude the cologne of clean, precise control.


5 years prior to the movie’s events, Wick, a retired hitman, found the love of his life and has since bleached the bloodstains to enjoy life “on the other side” with Helen (Bridget Moynahan). Helen unfortunately succumbs to cancer years later, leaving behind a beagle to plug the woman-shaped hole in Wick’s heart.


Iosef Tarasov (Alfie Allen) enters Wick’s life, and with almost comedic timing, beats up John in his own home, steals his car, and kills his dog just days after.

The fuse is lit, and unsurprisingly, Wick re-enters the business. This time however, as he tells Winston (Ian McShane), “It’s personal.” Things get interesting when Iosef turns out to be the son of John’s former boss, Viggo (played by Michael Nyqvist). Like any good dad (and mafia boss), Viggo isn’t going to sit around and watch his son get slaughtered.

The plot may seem simplistic, but it’s just enough to wrap everything around a narrative that’s at least somewhat believable for the immoderate violence porn that follows. Keanu Reeve’s familiarity with the silent anti-hero trope helps in convincing us that he’s had (and should have) decades of experience as a gracefully acrobatic death machine, with familiar contacts and even more familiar enemies.


The supporting cast adds just the right sheen of pizzazz, breathing life into the world around Wick. We have the chummy colleague-slash-buddy Marcus (played by a spectacularly sinister William Dafoe) and the exotically African-sounding Charon (played by Lance Reddick). Charon is the hotel manager of The Continental, which functions as a safe haven for ne’er-do-wells.

That said, some of Keanu’s moments, unlike Wick’s head-tracking ability, were more misses than hits. His signature barren disposition works to his favor as a cold-blooded killer, but it works against him when his reactions give the impression that Wick is perhaps incapable of thought and emotion.


Directors Chad Stahelki and David Leitch helm this film, and their experience as stuntmen (and owners of stunt production company 87Eleven) shines through every sharply executed kick and gunshot. Action scenes are utterly enjoyable to behold as Keanu weaves through the haze of whirling limbs and firearms, calmly popping heads like a game of Whack-A-Mole. It’s hard to believe that the actor’s already 50 when he’s sheathed in sleek, svelte three-pieces and pulling kicks like he’s in Matrix-esque spandex.

John Wick is ultimately an anti-hero movie that’s marvelously kinetic and fueled with enough octane to entertain throughout.

With a (pardon the pun) wicked performance from a lead who’s admitted to having less luck with castings recently, there’s little to dislike in this Reeves renaissance. Sort of.

Rating: 4/5


Release Date: October 23rd 2014

Runtime: 101 Minutes

Language: English

Censorship rating: NC16

Genre: Action, Thriller

Director: David Leitch, Chad Stahelski

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen