John Wick (2015) [Review]

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An ex-hitman comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that took everything from him.

John Wick has finally been released in the UK! It was originally penned to come out back in January along with the US releases, but with the Oscars being so tightly contested this year between Whiplash, Birdman and Boyhood its ticket sales would have taken an absolute battering here in the UK. So here we are in sunny April, with it being released just after Fast and Furious 7, a film that is smashing the box office over its head, and Hot Tub Time Machine 2, a film that nobody wanted to see a sequel to. It’s been on VOD for months now, tonight it hits the cinemas for Cineworld card holders, and then a wider release this weekend. The cinema is really the only true place to see Keanu Reeves shoot a tit load of people in the face – I am so pumped to see it.

Lets start from the beginning on John Wick with the lead: Keanu Reeves. Now Keanu Reeves gets a lot of stick for some reason, but not in the same way Nicholas Cage gets stick. Whenever you mention John Wick people immediately state, “oh, that awful film with Keanu Reeves?“. To which I reply, “Oh, have you seen it?! I didn’t respond to your Taken 3 adoration with ‘oh, is that the film with the wrinkly old dude who can’t run?!‘”. Keanu Reeves has a had a bad time since and before The Matrix trilogy. While we all love a good meme every now and then, he was subject to ‘meme-abuse’ in the form of ‘Sad Keanu’. What a lot of people fail to understand was the actual sadness this guy has endured in his lifetime. What happened to him you would not wish on your worst enemy, or perhaps, maybe you would depending on your hatred of your worst enemy. Anyway, it should have been ‘good guy Keanu‘, because as well all know, this is the guy who starred in The Matrix, Bill & Ted and Speed! Your apprehension for John Wick needs to be reeled in a tad, as this is no B-Movie actor.

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Nevertheless, people complain that he is flat, emotionless, dull… and that may be true, there really is no comeback for that one. However, as we have hopefully established, there may be a good reason for his emotionless work. It is for those reasons, his ability to tap into the horrendous dark places he has experienced (Post-‘Bill & Ted’), that he has been able to get the roles he has got. It is with that logic in mind, that it is without a shadow of a doubt, Keanu Reeves was the only choice for John Wick.

For John Wick is a depressed, monotone, badass. He would destroy Danny Trejo, Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham and Liam Neeson in a gunfight, and would shorten any Expendables movie by a good 90 minutes. John Wick does not take any shit from anyone, and will shoot to kill without a second thought. This is the type of action film I can get behind. This is a lesson for all the things wrong with so many of the action films being released as of late, for all the directors/writers/producers, here is the key; Single motive, no distractions, and your lead get the job done with minimal fuss. This is a film for the Grand Theft Auto on Youtube generation. Stylistically similar to Drive, with a storyline comparable to Taken, and the suave unpredictable nature of The Guest, the main protagonist needs a singular  weapon of choice to maximise their kill count, it hits all the right places.

In fact, the kill count in this film deserves to singled out, as this infographic cleverly illustrates, John Wick does not miss a beat. Now I am not one for glamourising and/or promoting violence, but this film shows you what a dangerous person looks like. With all the sophistication and nonchalance of James Bond, but with the lethal eye for a kill like Statham and Neeson, this is a middle-aged man with a score to settle. I’m usually opposed to doing this, but I encourage you to watch the trailer and not feel a little unnerved by the sheer quantity of gunshots that ultimately end up as corpses.

Bang. Bang. Bang. Every, single, shot, counts.

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The film itself has a very simple premise; someone takes everything from him, and he’s pissed off about it. Some could say that there is more to it, but not much. With a  cast consisting of  Jason Isaacs (Harry Potter), Ian McShane (Lovejoy), Adrianne Palicki (Friday Night Lights), Willem Dafoe (No description needed!), John Leguizamo (Chef), Alfie Allen (Game of Thrones), and Michael Nyqvist (Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol), there is an extraordinarily strong supporting cast to elevate the film beyond your B-movie action flick. This elevation beyond what would usually be expected is carried across the production value and in its execution – not only does it have the cast to fit the criteria, but it looks, sounds and feels the part.

There is very little more to say, for Keanu utters so few words in this stylish, violent, revenge movie that the less said the better. Rarely has an action film captivated me the way John Wick has done. Clocking in at just over the 90 minute mark, this is a film that is as accurate and concise as John Wick’s shooting. No need for anything too extravagant, no need for a huge budget – just give the guy a gun and shoot the bad guys. I hope this is the rebirth of Keanu, that producers and directors look beyond Neeson & Statham and realise that there is a new kid on the block. The irony of course being, that much like Neeson & Statham, he is far from new, and with that in mind he fits the criteria perfectly.

Sign me up for another one.

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8 responses to “John Wick (2015) [Review]

  1. I had a lot of fun with this movie. Reeves was perfect for the role. It would be awesome if they made a spin-off centered around the Continental Hotel and its guests. The world is definitely worth exploring. I must say, his dog may be the cutest dog I have ever seen in cinema. Great review!

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    • Yeah, I’ve been drinking all day in the sun, just watched it and figured it was the opportune time to write it up!

      So pumped afterwards. It is an absolutely obscene film. The hotel is screaming out for a Netflix series.

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      • Haha Sounds like a great day to me! oh man, a Netflix series would be awesome. I was thinking something along the lines of Four Rooms, but a Netflix or web series would be great, too.

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    • Keanu is in a league of his own on this film. If I were Penn, Neeson and Statham I would be scared that someone is going to come and take their roles.

      I genuinely hope this is a resurgence for Keanu.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review. I wasn’t completely taken with this film (no pun intended!) but I have to agree that Keanu Reeves is perfect here. He completely lives the part and is convincing simply as a damaged human-being as well as an accomplished killer.

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