Ben Oliver

Banner image for John Wick

John Wick

John wasn’t exactly the boogeyman. He’s the one you sent to kill the fucking boogeyman.
12 March 2015

Keanu Reeves plays the title character, a retired hitman who has recently lost his wife. As a final gift from beyond the grave, said wife leaves him a puppy. Some Russian mobsters come to steal his car and in doing so, kill the dog. Wick seeks revenge.

Blow me down with a feather - John Wick is not just a good Keanu Reeves film, it’s a return to form for Hollywood action films in general. The premise is simple, it’s the typical man seeking revenge idea, but the execution is astonishingly effective.

This movie has some of the most slick, kinetic action sequences I’ve seen since Die Hard. It borrows from all sorts of places but is a fundamentally unique piece of work. The directors keep a steady hand at the camera, opting for well thought out action over shaky nonsense.

Reeves is a great fit for the role. His trademark stiff-as-a-plank understatement works a treat, and he bridges the gap nicely between everyman and hitman. It’s hard to make such a talented character relatable but he pulls it off.

There’s also a cool neo-noir aesthetic to the picture. It’s a much louder, higher-octane film than Drive, but there are similarities.

It’s not a perfect film by any means. The soundtrack is a little overbearing at times, and Nyqvist isn’t a great villain. However it’s all nit-picking. This is a breath of fresh air in a stale genre I’d all but given up on.

There has been action-film amnesia of late - Hollywood seems to have forgotten how to do what it once did best. Plots are getting more convoluted, characters less important and critical scenes are noisy messes. John Wick takes us back to what makes action films great, and builds on it.