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John Wick

John Wick

Released 10 April 2015
Director(s) Chad Stahelski, David Leitch

Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Willem Dafoe, Dean Winters, Adrianne Palicki, Omer Barnea, Bridget Moynahan, Ian McShane
Writer(s) Derek Kolstad

Basil Iwanyk, David Leitch, Eva Longoria, Chad Stahelski, Mike Witherill
Origin United States
Running Time 101 minutes
Genre Action, thriller
Rating 16

Puppy love.

John Wick is a man whose reputation precedes him. According to one impressed comrade, he once took down three guys in a bar using only a pencil. A fucking pencil! While we don't see anything so wonderfully MacGyver-esque during the symphony of violence that is John Wick, we are left in no doubt that the man is indestructible; a Terminator in a well-tailored suit.

Keanu Reeves plays the titular character, a retired assassin and general hard-ass, who at the beginning of the film is at his lowest ebb. His wife, with whom he started an honest life, has passed away following a long illness. John is alone in his grief until a package arrives – a note from his dead wife and a dog carrier containing a ridiculously adorable puppy. The gift from his wife gives him a sliver of hope but this is dashed when a group of armed thugs, led by the brattish son of a Russian crimelord, break into his house in the middle of the night, steal his car and kill his puppy. Big mistake. John sets out on a bloody trail of vengeance that will lead him right back into the underworld of his old life.

With this simple set-up quickly established, it's time for the usually chilled-out Keanu Reeves to hit the New York crime scene with a ferocity that befits a film directed by two former stuntmen - Chad Stahelski and David Leitch. While clocking up a bodycount that would make John Rambo proud, Reeves looks amazing – he cuts a dashing figure in a dark suit and moves his way around the fight choreography with grace and presence. Ok, so the man will never be the most accomplished actor in the world but with a minimum of dialogue to contend with, he pulls off a dynamic visual performance. Around him, everyone has their tongues firmly in their cheeks, from the impressive supporting cast (including Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen and Willem Dafoe) to scriptwriter Derek Kolstad, who manages to make the quieter moments of the film crackle with campy dialogue.

John Wick is a lot of fun but certainly not perfect. The ferocious high energy with which it hurtles around New York cannot be sustained indefinitely and towards the last third of the film, I felt myself and the action beginning to flag. Fans of the genre and good old fashioned gun battles will be utterly delighted by John Wick though – a surprisingly smart and genuinely fun explosion of a film.

- Linda O'Brien