Out For Revenge
♦Tomorrow sees the release of John Wick: Chapter 2 in UK cinemas so just before that, Tripwire’s Editor-in-Chief revisited its progenitor, John Wick…
Director: Chad Stahelski
Stars: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen
The year was 2014 and Keanu Reeves’ career was in a lull.He had made a number of forgettable action films and it seemed as if he was done. John Wick came out in the US to little fanfare and it was sat on for almost two years before it was released in the UK. However by this point, it had built up a little bit of a reputation.
The John Wick of the title is a former assassin who is drawn back into his past life when arrogant Russian gangster brat Iosef Tarasov (Alfie Allen) decides to steal his car and kill his dog. Wick has just lost his wife and so Tarasov and his father Viggo (Michael Nyqvist) find out to their cost that Wick is not a man to be crossed. So yes it is a simple tale of revenge but Stahelksi with the help of its uncredited co-director David Leitch creates something stylish, visceral and elegant in a bizarre way. Reeves is likeable and cool from the very start. There is a power and a majesty to many of the scenes here that help it to transcend its label of revenge thriller. Cameos from the likes of Willem Defoe as Wick’s former associate Marcus, now retained to bring him down, and Ian McShane as Winston, the man who runs hotel for assassins The Continental, help to lend it extra wight dramatically too. Nyqvist as Russian gangster patriarch Tarasov is very good indeed although Allen may be the weakest link here as son Iosef. It is very violent in places but fight scenes are very well orchestrated.
Its allusions to a bigger world through the Continental and Winston do pique the viewers’ interest and it does make you want to see more adventures in his world. The story is resolved however seeds are planted for a potential follow-up. It does work as a film in its own right, even if a second film was never made.
Clocking in at just over 90 minutes, John Wick never outstays its welcome. It proves that Reeves still has something to offer as an actor and is a refreshing antidote to the scores of superhero movies and soulless action films that are part of mainstream Hollywood’s diet these days. In the same way that when The Matrix was released, it felt like something fresh for science fiction, John Wick takes the action thriller genre and gives it a little bit of a tweak.