3.5 stars
Set in Long Island and New York City, Keanu Reeves (A Scanner Darkly) plays John Wick, a hit-man who has retired from the business of killing to look after his terminally ill wife. This quiet life, however, is shattered when he is confronted by a trio of thugs at a gas station who admire his vintage ’69 Mustang, and offer to buy it from him.
Wick is not selling, but unfortunately the thugs turn out to be Russian mafia, who don’t take ‘no’ for an answer and they turn up at his home, kill his dog (a posthumous gift from his wife), steal the car and leave Wick in a bloody mess. From that moment on, the audience is taken on an unrelentingly violent roller-coaster ride and the body count outdoes anything you’ve witnessed on screen before as Wick comes out of retirement to avenge the loss of his car and his puppy!

This may put many off going to see John Wick, however, if you are up for a confronting, but very stylized graphic novel-like experience, and don’t take it all too seriously, then you are in for a treat. Reeves’s performance is exhilarating as he wipes out his foes in scenes of splendidly balletic mayhem reminiscent of his work in The Matrix.

It turns out that the leader of the thugs, Iosef Tarasov (Alfie Allen – Game Of Thrones) is the son of Wick’s former boss, Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyquist – who plays Blomkvist in the Stieg Larsson Millennium Trilogy). Dad, knowing that Wick is an unstoppable force once riled, offers a two million dollar “open Contract” to another hitman, Marcus (Willem Dafoe – The Grand Budapest Hotel), who happens to be a friend of Wick’s. Reluctantly, Marcus agrees to accept the challenge of bringing down Tarasov’s former employee, aka the ‘Bogeyman’.

David Leitch and Chad Stahelski, former stuntmen who trained Reeves for his Matrix role, have come together for this very successful directorial debut. Jonathan Sela’s (A Good DayTo Die Hard) cinematography perfectly captures the action which is fast-paced and very bloody. The art direction and costume design have Reeves looking like the perfectly groomed leading man in every scene. It seems a dark three-piece suit and tie is Wick’s work uniform. Propped up by an excellent supporting cast and supported by Tyler Bate’s original and impressive soundtrack, this is, nonetheless, very much Reeves’s film.

There is little to fault about this action generic thriller, which will be embraced by gamers and enjoyed by an audience looking for 101 minutes of absolute escapism. Check your disbelief at the door and sit back and have some fun!


Previewed at Roadshow Theatrette, Sydney on 24 October 2014

Keanu Reeves
John Leguizamo
Willem Dafoe
Michael Nyqvist
Alfie Allen

David Leith
Chad Stahelski

Derek Kolstad

China / Canada / USA


101 minutes

October 30, 2014
John Wick (2014) on IMDb