John Wick

 

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If you love the title, then you’ll love this no-nonsense B-movie all dressed up and nowhere to go.

 

John Wick

Keanu Reeves as the wicked Wick

 

John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is not so much a man as a legend. Retired from a lucrative career as a hitman, he has settled down with a good woman (Bridget Moynahan), living the life of Riley on his ill-gotten gains. But when she dies from an unspecified illness, all he has left is a beagle puppy, posthumously gifted him by his late wife. So when the puppy is killed by the son of a Russian gangster, John Wick steps out of the shadows…

 

We’ve seen this before and Chad Stahelski's movie is not so much an actioner in its own right as a retrospective template for any number of films starring Liam Neeson, Bruce Willis and You Name Him. Wick, of course, is ruthless and indestructible and even though he sets his sights on the mobster Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist) – whose private army would seem to outnumber the entire New York police force – he has little trouble in ploughing his way to revenge. The twist is that there’s no twist. And there’s not a single sympathetic character nor a shred of plausibility nor a twinkle of humour. It all looks stunning, though – courtesy of the Paris-born DP Jonathan Sela – and climaxes magnificently (if wildly improbably) by the docks in a rainstorm.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Adrianne Palicki, Bridget Moynahan, Dean Winters, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, Willem Dafoe, David Patrick Kelly, Lance Reddick, Clarke Peters.

 

Dir Chad Stahelski, Pro Basil Iwanyk, David Leitch, Eva Longoria and Michael Witherill, Screenplay Derek Kolstad, Ph Jonathan Sela, Pro Des Dan Leigh, Ed Elisabet Ronalds, Music Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard, Costumes Luca Mosca.

 

Thunder Road Pictures/87Eleven Productions/MJW Films/DefyNite Films-Warner Bros.

101 mins. USA/China. 2014. Rel: 10 April 2015. Cert. 15.