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Review: John Wick

John Wick
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Read JimmyO's review here!

PLOT: John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is a former hit man for the Russian mob who comes out of retirement after the son of his former boss brutally attacks his home and kills his dog.

REVIEW: Keanu Reeves hasn’t been this cool since THE MATRIX. High praise, I know, but JOHN WICK deserves it. Before the first trailer dropped a couple of months ago, I doubt anyone was expecting all that much from it. It simply sounded like a potentially cool action-thriller, but first-time directors David Leitch & Chad Stahelski have made more than just a disposable thriller. They’ve infused JOHN WICK with the same kind of stylistic love of Asian action cinema that made THE MATRIX such a winner. Where that film had heavy doses of Hong Kong-style action reminiscent of Yuen Woo Ping and John Woo, JOHN WICK seems way more informed by the new wave of South Korean thrillers, with this – at its very best – feeling almost like an American MAN FROM NOWHERE (if you haven’t seen that hit Netflix – stat!).

Everything about JOHN WICK oozes style, with enough glorious carnage to fit several movies, all brilliantly choreographed in a down and dirty fashion that feels pretty fresh for an American action flick – and it’s a hard-R to boot. Reeves excels in the title role. Pushing fifty, Reeves still looks remarkably good but he’s somewhat more weathered than he was in his heartthrob days, which gives Wick aworld-weariness that suits the part to a tee. One of the best things about Reeves as both a performer and a man is that there’s always been something inherently kind about him. As such, great pains are taken to keep Wick from coming off as a monosyllabic killer.

One of the most intriguing choices Stahelski and Leitch made was to have the first act of JOHN WICK play out like a straight-drama, as we follow Wick from his wife’s death (from natural causes) through his long grieving process, to a beautifully acted moment where he breaks down in tears upon receiving a puppy his wife had ordered for him before she died. At this point I almost felt like I could have watched a full-on drama just about Reeves and the dog with a body count of zero, and I would have been happy.

Of course, the poor pup isn’t long for this world, and if ever you’ve been on the side of the avenger, watching Reeves’ cute beagle get killed by Alfie Allen (in a role even less sympathetic than Theon Greyjoy from GAME OF THRONES) will make you eager to see the young psycho die horribly. From there, Reeves’ cuts a swatch through the underworld in a suicidal odyssey of violence as he’s pitted against his former boss (Michael Nyqvist – who’s actually quite funny at times) and hunted by the city’s best killers. These include Adrianne Palicki’s leather-clad Ms. Perkins, his former mentor (played by Willem Dafoe – who seems to be having the time of his life) and former B-action star Daniel Bernhardt, who gets into some really nasty mano-a-mano scraps with Reeves, keeping the action from solely being of the bang-bang variety.

Throughout, the movie oozes atmosphere and cool, with the secret hit man underworld being depicted in a highly surrealistic way, with them all staying at a hotel run by a dapper Ian McShane, that exists as a kind of sanctuary – like holy ground in the HIGHLANDER movies. The hotel only accepts gold coins, and has not one, but two former cast members of THE WIRE as residents, with Lance Reddick as the most badass concierge in screen history, and a great cameo by Clarke Peters.

JOHN WICK is really a terrific action spectacle, and deserves to be the action blockbuster that’ll put Reeves back on top (where he belongs) but even if it doesn’t break the bank it’ll no doubt become a cult classic. It has so much personality and style that it’s a total must-see and one of the few movies I can absolutely guarantee will be enjoyed by all of our JoBlo.com readers. Hopefully people will get out and support it, as this is the kind of mid-budget, hardcore R-rated action flick we don’t get enough of these days.

Source: JoBlo.com

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