run time: 101 mins
considered: Action, Thriller
director: David Leitch, Chad Stahelski
starring: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Willem Dafoe, Dean Winters, Adrianne Palicki, Omar Barnea, Toby Leonard Moore, Daniel Bernhardt, Bridget Moynahan, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane, Bridget Regan, Lance Reddick, Keith Jardine,
movie summary: In a quiet New Jersey town there is a man who drives a really nice car named John Wick (Keanu Reeves). This nice car doesn’t belong in this kind of neighbourhood and when John goes to fill it up at the gas station, he is approached by a group of foreigners who offer him cash for the car. He refuses their offer before driving off to live his normal life with his dog. As night approaches the three men don some ski masks and break into John’s house to beat him within an inch of his life in order to steal the car.
Iosef Tarasov (Alfie Allen) brings the car to a chop shop run by Aurelio (John Leguizamo), only to find out he has robbed the wrong guy. Aurelio asks Iosef if he killed the guy in the house, Iosef says there is no way the guy lived and takes the car somewhere else. Meanwhile back at the house, John is bleeding out all over the place but still manages to bury his dog in the yard and then make a few phone calls. He digs out a trunk full of weapons from his basement floor before a catching a bus to Aurelio’s to find out who robbed him. John gets word that the son of his former business partner Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyquist), is the one who stole the car and vows revenge. He contacts Viggo and the two share a brief talk that forces Viggo to mobilize his personal body guards to guard his son and lock down the building. His personal assistant doesn’t understand Viggo’s instructions, until he hears the stories about John Wick and the nasty things John is capable of.
John gets a new car and checks into a hotel in downtown New York City. The unique thing about this hotel is it full of other highly trained assassins and the only accepted currency is gold coins. John meets with the hotel owner about how to set up a meeting with Viggo and Iosef, but is informed that there can be no such meetings in the hotel. John understands so gets some intel on where Iosef is staying and where Viggo is running his operations. On the other side of town Viggo offers up a bounty of $2 million dollars for John Wick’s head. Highly trained assassins Marcus (Willem Dafoe) and Ms. Perkins (Adrianne Palicki) decide to take a chance for the reward. When both fail at their attempt to take him out, John grows even more pissed and wants even more blood for being double crossed by friends.
The game of cat and mouse gets taken to a whole new level as the body count raises and John finally gets his hands on Iosef. Viggo realizes his son’s fate was sealed from the moment he stole the car, and decides to set John up in order to kidnap him. After a face to face talk with John tied up to a chair, Viggo orders him to be killed. John survives another attempt on his life thanks to a little help from a friend. After a few more dead bodies pile up, John sets his sights on Viggo who is about to escape the city.
my thoughts: John Wick opened last weekend and came out during a time when The Equalizer is still in theatres and Taken 3 is due out in two months. I don’t mean to take anything away from Denzel Washington or Liam Neeson, their franchises, or characters, but John Wick is no different from those films. The concept of an ordinary guy with secret super assassin skills is going to get really old at some point even when they change-up the lead and alter the story a bit. Keanu Reeves and his acting abilities are the only thing that save this movie from being a disaster, even with a few unique plot twists. Some people have been waiting for Reeves to make another film worthy of high praise and he delivers with John Wick.
Like other movies with similar plots, his character is out for revenge for personal wrong doings. He is newly retired from his old job, if we can call it that, and wants to spend time with his wife. When his personal life comes crashing down and he gets robbed, he just dusts off his leather jacket and reloads his guns for a classic shoot out movie. One aspect of his character that is given a lot of attention is how rusty he is at fighting and shooting since leaving the lifestyle. Although the first 20-30 minutes of movie he doesn’t do anything reckless, once Michael Nyquist’s character begins to tell us what he is capable of, we get a great build up the potential action we are about to witness. When the John Wick character is busting heads and killing people, he does it so violently that blood is flying everywhere including hitting the camera. He shoots people to kill them, whether it is ten rounds in the chest or two shots in the head, when John Wick wants you dead, you die.
Other secret assassins do not get the kind of build up John Wick does. You would have to think people like Wick actually exist in real life and that you would never ever want to get on their bad side. Alfie Allen’s character Iosef is the spoiled egotistic son of a very rich and powerful man, who thinks he just go around taking what isn’t is. He’s stupidity and fearlessness will cause him dearly because he gets himself in a situation that even his dad can’t get him out. Speaking of his dad, Nyquist is a great antagonist for Reeves’ Wick character because they used to know each other and used to work together. Viggo knows his every move and takes great joy to see how slow Wick is now. He thinks he always has the upper hand but never really understands that you can’t trust a trained assassin who has nothing to lose.
my final thoughts: I knew John Wick would be a good movie but didn’t expect it to be as great as it was. There was a few new elements added to the secret spy seeks revenge plot that made it more interesting and enjoyable. I had a few chuckles at some funny one-liners and the awkward positions Wick found himself in. Reeves gets himself back into the main stream with a solid performance filled with lots of bullets and dead bodies. If you like action movies and a good revenge story then John Wick would be for you.
my star rating: 7 out 10
imdb: 8.1 out 10
rottentomatoes: 86% out 100%
rogerebert: 3 out 4