John Wick is, and rightly so, being billed as one of the action thrillers of the year. However what hasn’t been discussed quite so much, is how tender and moving an opening act exists – as the first half an hour plays on the viewer’s emotions, setting the scene triumphantly, and allowing the viewer to invest in the tale and character at hand, which gets you crucially on board. This paves the way for a compelling, uncompromising piece that offers little respite – in the best way possible.
Keanu Reeves plays the eponymous protagonist, who is left with the burden of burying his wife after an illness gets the better of her. She did leave behind a gift, however, in the form of a small puppy, affectionately named Daisy. However when a collective of sadistic, callous criminals, led by the headstrong Iosef Tarasov (Alfie Allen) invade John’s property with their heart set on stealing his car, they also seek to prove their dominance by murdering the poor dog. What they didn’t know, is that John Wick is a feared, revered, and currently out-of-work assassin – an assassin who decides to take a bloody vengeance on those who wronged him.
John Wick works because you believe in its protagonist. Reeves may have been away for a while, but he hasn’t lost any of the charisma that makes him such a dependable leading man. It helps of course to have such well-crafted choreography, no doubt thanks to having two former stuntmen in Chad Stahelski and David Leitch on directing duties. The film is, however, missing a more formidable antagonist, and though the number of people John Wick must overcome is great, not one seems infallible, or indestructible. You’re never in doubt that John Wick will come out on top.
This fast-paced picture is unadulterated, unashamed fun that entertains from start to finish. Thin on story, but the simplicity is advantageous, as the two debut filmmakers breath life into the revenge plot thriller. Appealing to both fans of great action films, and cute puppies, the only downside is that a sequel is currently in the works. A superfluous addition perhaps, but as long as this doesn’t go the same way as Taken, we may just be okay.