John Wick (2014)

In anticipation for John Wick: Chapter 2, here is my review of the predecessor. You can’t see me, but trust me when I say I am rubbing my hands with glee and with a fanboy smile plastered on my face.

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Wow! Not since 2011’s Drive have I been so exhilarated coming out of the cinema. What a frigging adrenaline rush!

The story is as simple as ABC. Some Russian scumbag kills his dog and the owner, ex-hitman named John Wick goes on a rampage to kill every scumbag under the fella’s employment. Yes, it’s a dog. The plot is as simple as 123, point A to point B stuff. But the execution by Keanu Reeves’ stunt double in The Matrix trilogy, Chad Stahelski in his directorial debut is frigging perfect.

All the great revenge genre movies have one thing in common which is not easy to achieve. If done well each kill has a dark comedic celebratory thrill and they all have a way of setting logic aside. John Wick delivers this in spades and then some. Even my wife next to me was laughing in glee, punching her fist in the air and mouthing “yes” as Wick goes closer and closer to his objective. She didn’t even notice it until I told her later during supper.

One of the cool stuff about it is the director’s meticulous attention to details. The set-pieces are breathtaking and carefully choreographed. And for once the audience is treated with respect – bad guys don’t run into a hail of bullets and dance like ballerinas as they get pummeled. These chaps actually know how to aim and don’t waste bullets. The anti-hero is human and does get hurt. There are none of those slow motion shots to underscore action and the camera is actually pulled back for us to ogle at the carnage. The hand to hand combats are viscerally filmed and it is exactly how real angry men fight. I think I have not seen such superb gun fights and hand to hand combats since The Raid films.

What a return to badass killer form for Keanu Reeves. Not since The Matrix have I witnessed him in such spectacular form. He is so believable in the role and his motivation is sustained throughout the film, from the moment his dog died to the final reel. I love the rest of the cast of who’s who – Willem Dafoe, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane. Both of us also got a hoot of seeing a couple of seasoned actors from The Wire. The screenplay is surprisingly absent of exposition and uber cool in delivering information that makes you think. Yes, you actually do have to think in this one. The movie won’t win awards or is groundbreaking in any particular way, but it absolutely delivers visceral action in such a thrilling way that I feel like buying another ticket to watch it again.

Keyser Söse, The Bride, The Driver with No Name, John Creasy, Dae-su, Jack Carter, Paul Kersey, Soo-hyun, Robert McCall, all crazy sick avengers and dispatchers of violence of the A* elite class. Now we have to add one more name – John Wick.

4.5 / 5

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