John Wick begins as a dark gritty thriller, packed with suspenseful dialogue and a seemingly straightforward revenge-movie plot. Unfortunately, even with a short 96 minute run time, the film becomes congested at times with too many characters and what feels like repetitive scenes. However, that said this is Chad Stahelski first time directing and he does manage to tell a story which is violent, fun, and contains some seriously impressive fight scenes.
The story of John Wick centres on a retired hitman (Keanu Reeves) who is mourning the loss of his wife. She leaves him a puppy as a gift; however Russian mobster Iosef Tarasov (Game of Thrones’ Alfie Allen) soon takes that away from him, as well as stealing his prized car. Wick sets out to get Tarasov but soon becomes engrossed in a war against the entire Russian mob, and thus opening the door into a criminal underworld.
Conventional action movie clichés are in abundance, from the constant repetition of the lead character’s name, to Michael Nyqvist’s villain Viggo Tarasov, who you’d half expect to be laughing to himself whilst stroking a white cat.
The cast itself is very impressive. Aswell as those mentioned, Williem Dafoe has a fairly big part which he manages well, and there are stars from some of the greatest TV shows ever. These include Deadwood’s Ian McShane, Friday Night Lights alumn Adrianne Palicki and The Wire duo Clarke Peters and Lance Reddick.
Unfortunately with so much talent, nobody has a chance to shine because there are just too many of them. Wick is the only character with any depth and that is simply because he’s our protagonist.
The fight scenes are exceptionally well choreographed, with Reeves gliding through one fight move to another and its stylish cinematography makes it look different from your typical action movie, even if the film itself isn’t. There is an abundance of violence, and at last count I think there was at least 88 people killed. This is a fairly impressive kill list for a 96 minute film.
Ultimately, John Wick isn’t anything you haven’t seen before, but it looks nice, has some recognizable faces that you may enjoy seeing, and provides an abundance of action.
Action flick fans will appreciate this.
Score 3 out of 5
Review by Bradley Weir