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John Wick

John Wick: Odd, Violent & Surprisingly Enjoyable

  • Adrianne PalickiAlfie Allen...
  • Action & AdventureThriller
  • Chad Stahelski
reviewed by
Marija Loncarevic
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John Wick: Odd, Violent & Surprisingly Enjoyable

Brash, shameless and enjoyably silly, John Wick – despite its seemingly clichéd action assembly – is one of the most entertaining and bloodiest action flicks of the year.

Co-directed by David Leitch and renowned Matrix stunt-coordinator, Chad Stahelski, the story is pretty simple and it focuses on one John Wick (Reeves); a former assassin for the Russian mob who has retired from the killing game in order to lead a normal life with his loving wife, Helen (Moynahan). However, after a long battle with cancer, Wick’s wife dies and as her final gift to him, she leaves him with a small puppy to keep him company and help him stay grounded. It sounds ridiculous thus far, but hold your horses.

Completely withdrawn from the outside world, Wick’s life takes a turn for the tragic when the adorable puppy is killed and his vintage Mustang stolen during a break in by three Russians who had earlier wanted to buy the car, before Wick refused.

He soon finds out that one of the men, Iosef (Allen), is the son of Russian mob leader and former employer, Viggo Tarasov (Nyqvist). After news of Iosef and John’s clash reaches Viggo, he tries to convince the retired assassin from seeking retribution against his son, knowing how skilled John is. When our hero refuses, Viggo has no other choice but to kill him first – and then, naturally, all hell breaks loose.

Despite its run-of-the-mill setup, the film works because it never takes itself too seriously; it knows what it is (a bloody and irrational revenge story) and it never pretends to be anything else. Stylistically, the film takes cues from the video-like elements of Korean and Japanese revenge thrillers; something that contributes to its enigmatic appeal.

The action, although not necessarily groundbreaking, is executed with perfection and most of the fight scenes – and there’s a lot of them – are accomplished with the type of grace and style you’d expect from Stahelski. The story – which rarely takes a moment to stop and breathe – is easy to follow and doesn’t bog itself down with preachy undertones we see rammed down our throats by action films these days.

In what proves to be one of his better performances in recent memory, Reeves is absolutely stellar and highly convincing as a man who has nothing to lose; the star of Speed and The Matrix has been labelled as being stiff and expressionless throughout most of his later career, but it actually suits the character of John Wick perfectly. Nyquist, as a dark and eccentric Russian kingpin, makes for a fantastic and hateful villain, though Allen – better known for his role as Theon Greyjoy of Games of Thrones – comes off as a little cartoonish and melodramatic.

For all intense and purposes, John Wick should be a shallow, forgettable film,  but its ruthless and occasionally quirky approach to the classic elements of the action genre makes it a surprisingly engaging watch.

Like This? Try

The Equalizer (2014), The Matrix (1999), The Jackal (1997)

360 Tip

According to Keanu Reeves, he did 90% of his own stunts in the film.

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