It was a lovely woman (Bridget Moynihan) who convinced John Wick (Keanu Reeves) to resign from his position as the Russian mob’s “man you send to kill the Boogeymen” and settle into a quiet life of suburban domesticity. Now what we assume is cancer has taken her life. Before her passing, though, she arranged for a surprise delivery the night of her own funeral.
Alone and inconsolable, John meets Daisy, an adorably puppy who will ensure John isn’t alone in his grief.
Iosef (Alfie Allen), the son of Wick’s former boss (and head of the mob played by a game Michael Nyqvist), is part Fredo, part sociopath, and all about unfortunate coincidences. He has no idea who Wick is/was. He Just wants Wick’s sweet ride. When Wick refuses to sell, Iosef plots a night time home invasion. Wick’s beaten, his car is stolen, and Daisy is bludgeoned to death.
Let the rampage begin.
“John Wick” is a beautifully-crafted revenge film that pays off again and again and again with a superb story set in a richly-detailed underworld. The action scenes are SPECTACULAR. The usual-usual frenzied, confusing editing by a monkey on meth is nowhere to be seen. Director Chad Stahelski (a former stuntman and choreographer) should direct every action film from here on until the end of time.
He just should.
“John Wick” accomplishes the one thing every great revenge film must succeed at: You are firmly and forever emotionally invested in seeing the protagonist dine on his vengeance — and immensely sated once the meal is over. It sure helps if you are an unabashed dog lover like myself.
Reeves is as good here as he’s ever been. This is certainly his best film since “The Matrix” in 1999. He’s obviously doing most of his own the stunts — including the driving, and that robotic but charismatic presence of his perfectly conveys a very capable man completely unfazed by the mayhem he causes.
A crowd of terrific character actors show up to show off in small but choice roles: Willem DaFoe, John Leguizamo, Lance Reddick, Ian McShane, Clarke Peters… As opposed to gimmicky cameos, these are all welcome faces that enhance every line spoken. McShane can make ordering a martini sound like Shakespeare.
“John Wick” passed the biggest test of all: after loving it in the theatre, it was just as satisfying the second time on Bluray and I can’t wait to see it a third time.
There is just nothing better than a fierce, perfectly-crafted, unpretentious, badass genre film.
Why “Boyhood” is the Best Picture front-runner with “John Wick” out there is anyone’s guess.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC