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Movie Reviews: Keanu Reeves Cold As Ice, As He Burns Up The Screen In John Wick.

(Image courtesy of teaser-trailer.com)
(Image courtesy of teaser-trailer.com)

It’s only business, its nothing personal. Such is a sentiment uttered by hit-men in many a movie whilst carrying out their “work”. What happens when it becomes truly personal? John Wick gives an idea of how quickly things can become PERSONAL.

John Wick is in mourning over the untimely death of his wife. She was likely the one bright spot in an otherwise very dark life. Not wanting him to be alone without anything to love or care for, she buys him a puppy as one final loving act before she passes away.

John is understandably bereaved and needing to blow off some steam, so he goes for a little spin in his cherished ’69 Boss 429 Mustang with his new little pal. As he’s fueling up on his way home, somebody expresses an unhealthy admiration for his car whilst trying to buy it from John on the spot. Sorry bub THIS car is NOT for sale.

Unfortunately to some people “no” is not a word found in their vocabulary. John finds out the hard way when the “interested parties” break into his home, trash the place, and hand him a vicious beating. The spark that really “lights the Wick”, as it were, occurs when they kill his puppy and steal his car.

His Boss Mustang and the puppy that his wife gave him as a final token of love were the last two things he truly loved in the world and now somebody has taken both from him.

The culprits happen to be Iosef, the son of a Russian Mob boss that is well acquainted with Wick, and his rather arrogant companions.

To Iosef and his cohorts, John Wick is nobody of consequence; to Iosef’s father Viggo, John Wick is the main reason he now sits in power. Wick is a legend among hit-men, who retired from the life so that he could make a life for himself with the woman he loved.

In order to retire, he pulled off an impossible job that catapulted Viggo to his lofty station.

He is no Boogeyman mind you, they call him “Baba Yaga” and he is the man you hire when you want The Boogeyman dead. Revenge is the long hard road lying in front of Wick, and he’s prepared to pave it in blood. When John Wick comes out of retirement and “goes back to work”, even the Grim Reaper will stand well aside and take notice.

Keanu Reeves serves up an icy persona as the title character of John Wick. This is not “Ted” from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, nor were there any shades of that character to be found. The words “whoa”, “excellent”, or even “69 dude” never entered my mind once while I watched.

No brash, cocky, pretty-boy crap to be seen here, although he did wear the hell out of some nice suits.

He did deliver a handful of incidentally humorous lines, but was otherwise one mean son-of-a-bitch. He very convincingly portrayed a man with focus and relentless drive.

The supporting cast was something of a loaded deck with the likes of: Willem Dafoe, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Adrianne Palicki, Bridget Moynahan, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane, and Lance Reddick.

I find it truly difficult to pick one performance that may have legitimately out-shined another.

Everyone, regardless of screen time, delivered decidedly solid and effective performances. Although Lance Reddick as the desk man/concierge of the gangster and hit-man hideaway, known as The Continental Hotel, did stick out as a personal favorite of mine.

David Leitch and Chad Stahelski shared the DEBUT director duties on John Wick. That’s right, this is their DIRECTING DEBUT! However, I absolutely believe this will NOT be the last we see of them in the action genre.

Both of their resumes consist of primarily stunt work, which may be why the action sequences were so beautifully and fluidly choreographed and shot. Fight sequences were so stylish and graceful, and the flow of the action was almost organic in it’s progression throughout the course of the movie.

They paced everything just right, so that they would get pulses racing and just when the audience needs that break to catch their breath – there’s a pause in the action and some more story to move the narrative forward. And even though everything was shot low-key or in darkness, there was a definite elegance to the appearance of the movie.

Murder Inc. rides again…and it’s dark, sleek, and sexy as hell.

I have to say with total sincerity that this is one of the best action films I’ve seen in a quite a while. It looked great and moved even better. It felt akin to a faster paced and much prettier version of Mel Gibson’s Payback.

This movie is something of a statement film for Keanu Reeves as well as for the directing team of Leitch and Stahelski.

For Reeves, the statement could be read as “if Sean Penn can shed the stigma of Spicoli maybe when given a part I can sink my teeth into I’ll be able to shed the similar stigma of Ted “Theodore” Logan”…if even for just two hours.

For Leitch and Stahelski it would be something similar to addressing the veritable “boys club” of action directors by saying, “hey fellas don’t get up, we went ahead and let ourselves in”.

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at [email protected]

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