“People keep asking if I'm back and I haven't really had an answer, but yeah, I'm thinking I'm back.”
John Wick is as predictable and formulaic as the other 99% of revenge action flicks out there, but what makes this stand out is how well the action scenes are choreographed and what a breath of fresh air it is to see the action take place without all the extreme close ups and fast edits which never allow you to enjoy them. John Wick was directed by two former stunt men, Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, who seem to have a grip at what they’re doing because they don’t take any of the fun away from the action scenes. Derek Solstad’s screenplay is pretty straightforward. We are introduced to the main character, John, who is grieving over his recently dead wife. She leaves him a cute puppy which will help him during this grieving period, but a group of young Russian mobsters break into his home one night to steal his car and in the process they kill the dog. That brings John to his breaking point and we discover pretty soon that he is no common man. He was once a feared hitman who later retired after meeting his wife. Now he is set on getting his revenge and the action begins. John is the typical hero we can route for and identify with for his loss, while the villains are ruthless and deserve to be punished. We’ve seen all this in almost every other revenge film, but what makes this one stand out and feel fresh is that the action scenes are stylized and energetic. So despite having a predictable plot you are entertained with some of the coolest action scenes of the year. This is no Raid 2, but it does get the job done. There is one particular action scene that takes place in a nightclub that is fantastically choreographed. These are the strongest moments of the film, but if you are looking for an original plot look elsewhere because this is very predictable. There are some interesting elements that Solstad introduces in this world where the mobsters have a series of codes and rues that they follow giving it sort of a video game vibe to it at times.
In order for the action scenes to work for a film like this where they aren’t cutting the scenes every second you need to have an actor who can pull them off. They found the right one with Keanu Reeves who definitely knows his stuff. He delivers in every action scene with some fantastic choreographed moves. The mobsters build him up as someone they fear and respect, and once you see him in action you believe it. He also delivers during the quiet moments as well despite not having the best dialogue to work with. He was made for these roles and delivers. The supporting cast is excellent as well. Alfie Allen (from the Games of Thrones series) is getting typed cast as the hateful villain who behaves like a child at times. His father is played by the excellent Michael Nyqvist, who John Wick used to work for. He knows his kid made a mistake but tries to protect him nonetheless putting a generous reward on John’s head. Willem Dafoe, Lance Reddick, and Adrianne Palicki get some screen time as well and they were a lot of fun. The way everyone treated John when they realized he was back in business was also another nice touch that the directors made and help lighten the mood at times. This was an extremely entertaining film with some of the best action scenes of the year despite all of its predictability. Stahelski and Leitch succeeded in making this predictable story feel fresh and if you are a fan of Keanu Reeve’s work you will not want to miss this.