John Wick is an excellent world-building movie hiding inside of a great action flick. The movie takes so much time and care crafting the eminently-believable world John Wick inhabits that it almost makes me wish, and I want to pre-emptively apologise to potential future audiences for this, that it was the first instalment in a new hyper-realistic film noir type franchise. It’s a world between the lines of the one we know, populated by contract killers and feuding families with their own set of rules – all of whom live in fear of the spectre that is John Wick.”
It’s never not fun watching Keanu Reeves kick ass. As Wick, he spends the first chunk of the movie trying to live a solitary life, having left behind the violence of his former line of work. And the movie does a good job establishing him as a lonely-by-choice bachelor who’s just trying to spend his time the best he knows how. That is until some unwitting criminals stumble into that life and set into motion a chain of events that draw the beleaguered Wick back into the fold. And when he comes back, you better believe he comes back swinging. The action in this movie somehow manages to toe the line between fast-paced insanity and smooth, believable choreography. A lot of that is down to the expert action cinematography and the fact that Keanu Reeves, like Tom Cruise, is a man who does his own stunts and makes the effort to continue being the face we see on screen when things ramp up and the risk factor multiplies.
The world-building mentioned earlier is helped in no small part by the addition of actors like Willem Dafoe as one of Wick’s former allies, Alfie Allen as the bumbling coward of a criminal who provokes Wick’s rampage, Lance Reddick as the playfully enigmatic concierge at the hotel used by Wick to hide out and Adrianne Palicki as a spirited fellow contract killer. All of these familiar-but-not-too-much faces and the generous characterisation each of them get really helps to sell the story of a world welcoming back one of its conquering heroes and alternately choosing to aid, interdict or just get out of his way as he sets to burning a swathe of destruction through the criminal underworld.
Though it suffers from a bit of fall-apart towards the end, that’s probably because they felt like they needed to cap off the hefty bodycount racked up during the runtime with a fittingly-epic action sequence that unfortunately just felt a bit forced and out of place. Nevertheless, John Wick is a confident and action-packed bit of cinema that should leave you clamouring for more.