There are two ways I could review John Wick. The first is to call it an utterly ridiculous, cliché-ridden, excessively violent, meat-headed action movie that does nothing in particular to further the art of cinema. The second way is pretty much identical, but to add that it is an immensely entertaining guilty pleasure.
This is a slick, bloodthirsty, no-holds-barred revenge flick starring Keanu Reeves, playing the eponymous antihero. Grieving for his dead wife, ex-Russian mob muscle John Wick receives a further blow when the son of his former employer, not realising Wick’s major bad-ass credentials, breaks into his house, beats him up, kills his (extremely cute) puppy and steals his beloved mustang. At which point, Wick snaps and decides to get seriously Old Testament on his attacker, and woe betide anyone who stands in his way.
Of course, inevitably Wick’s former boss and a ton of heavies do stand in his way. Cue a lot of agreeably disreputable, crunchy, ketchup-splattery violence that will no doubt offend some (there’s a good deal of swearing too). However, fans of the genre will lap up director Chad Stahelski’s slick execution of various niftily choreographed set pieces, including a number involving Willem Dafoe’s hired sniper that play particularly well.
Keanu Reeves has always been an actor of limited range, but he is actually very good as Wick, and the film serves as a reminder that he was also well cast in action movies such as Point Break, Speed and The Matrix. Elsewhere the rest of the cast (including Ian McShane, Lance Reddick, Adrianne Palicki and Michael Nyqvist) do their best with essentially one-dimensional roles, and the afore-mentioned clichés that come thick and fast. For instance, yet again, when Wick is at the mercy of the villain, audiences everywhere will wonder why the guy just doesn’t put a bullet in his head instead of wittering on about sharing common ground.
Ultimately this is rubbish, but it is very well put together rubbish. If your idea of a good time is Keanu Reeves exacting righteous vengeance on spoilt, puppy killing psychopathic Russian mobsters, you could do a lot worse than John Wick.