Directors: Chad Stahelski, David Leitch
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen
Watch John Wick online in the UK: TalkTalk TV Store / iTunes / Amazon Video / Rakuten TV / Google Play
“People keep asking if I’m back and I haven’t really had an answer, but yeah, I’m thinking I’m back.” That’s Keanu Reeves in John Wick, a quote that’s been front and centre of all posters and trailers for the film. And with good reason: these days, Keanu is more known for his melancholic internet memes than kick-ass action.
He plays John Wick, a retired hit man who gave up the game to go straight with his wife – only for her to die, leaving him with a puppy, which also doesn’t stick around long. Aww. Sad Keanu.
And so he does the only thing a retired hit man with a grudge against bad Russian gangster types can do: get revenge. Ooo. Mad Keanu.
It’s a sight we haven’t seen for a long while: the bloke from Point Break and The Matrix whaling on someone else’s body for minutes at a time, breaking bones, shooting legs, twisting necks and punching faces. If there were a university for assassins, Wick would’ve graduated top of the class – after killing all of the other students. Bad Keanu.
The people being bumped off are far from deep, or even that memorable, but the cast – fronted by The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’s Michael Nyqvist and Game of Thrones’ Alfie Allen – are visibly enjoying the heck out of their cheesy dialogue. “John wasn’t exactly the boogeyman,” says Nyqvist’s hammy mafia boss. “He was the guy you send to kill the boogeyman.” The bad guys continue talking in a way that makes all too clear the pain this legendary figure will inflict upon them. Rad Keanu.
It’s that sheer, relentless onslaught of violence that gives John Wick its pounding rhythm; one that directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch – who are both former stuntmen – shoot with a feel for the physicality of each set piece. Furniture breaks. Bullets fly. But it’s always easy to tell what’s happening, giving the audience ample time to admire the technicality of the bodily contortions before wincing. (Shoulder pad, Keanu.)
Reeves does it all with a cool passion that suits his simple, black costume – no plaid, Keanu – while supporting actors Willem Defoe and Ian McShane bring a classy note to the superbly realised dark underworld. Can a man in this kind of environment ever really find redemption? You won’t exactly get a grin out of our star – like The Raid, Wick’s enjoyment lies in its intense efficiency, rather than its heart-wrenching emotion (our hero’s feelings are conveyed through his acts, not his words) – but you will get a sense of a job well done. Oh, yeah. He’s back. And that makes us glad, Keanu.