John Wick is having a bad day. A really bad one. This is the gist of the film. John Wick is mourning the death of his wife. He is gassing up his car one day when some punks express interest his car. That night, they break in, assault John, hurt his dog and steal his car.
One little thing…John Wick is a notorious hitman. He is the boogeyman hitmen tell each other about. Wick had retired, but now he has a mission. That mission is to get his car back…but that means a whole lot of people are going to meet untimely ends.
John Wick is an action film with no aspirations to be anything else. Wick is a very simple character in a post-Taken world. He has a very special skill set and connections to a very dangerous community. This works in the film’s favor, as it makes it pretty easy to go along with the outlandish action sequences.
I have long argued that the key to a good Keanu Reeve performance is a character who might be smart, but is generally clueless about the plot. And admit it…most of his most memorable performances involve kind of clueless characters.
Not John Wick. Wick knows who he is, what he wants and how to do it. And it is pretty exciting to see him do it. The fights are tightly choreographed and eye catching. Reeves maintains a strong presence considering the fact that there is not much to the character. This is a lean action film full of characters with no real complexity. Each character has a specific role and they play it well. The film does not give you a lot of background to many characters…instead it allows the actors to bring a certain amount of their own presence. Ian McShane gives the “Overlord” Winston instant gravitas, while Lance Reddick’s Charon carries a real weight of quiet authority.
This is director Chad Stahelski’s directorial debut. He was primarily a stunt coordinator/choreographer who has done some assistant director work…but for a debut film, Stahelski does a pretty solid job. Probably the biggest knock against the film is the choice to view the entire film through a blue tint, which can get annoying at times.
John Wick is a strong debut for a first time director and a good start to what has become a franchise.