Director: Chad Stahelski, David Leitch
Writer: Derek Kolstad
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Willem Dafoe, Dean Winters, Adrianne Palicki, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane, Lance Reddick, Bridget Moynahan
Seen on: 02.02.2015
John Wick (Keanu Reeves) used to be a hitman. The best hitman. But he gave it all up for is wife (Bridget Moynahan) and went straight. But now he lost her after a long illness and he’s lost without her. When a little puppy arrives on his doorstep, courtesy of his wife who didn’t want him to lose his ability to love, he is immediately taken by it. But then he is robbed by Iosef Tasarov (Alfie Allen), a young thug who happens to be the son of mafia boss Viggo Tasarov (Michael Nyqvist). Iosef wants to steal John’s car, but can’t leave it at that: he kills John’s dog. That is the last straw for John who decides to get back into business and take his revenge on Iosef and anybody who stands in his way.
I expected John Wick to be a so bad it’s good kind of film. It isn’t. It is actually, unironically fantastic, a modern action masterpiece and I loved every second of it.
Writer Derek Kolstad obviously loves action movies, but what is more, he is obviously aware of the various action movie tropes – and he plays wonderfully with them. It is a film where the bad guys literally kick the puppy. Where John Wick’s wife can’t just be fridged, no, she needs to die, get basically reincarnated in a puppy and then get fridged. And Kolstad pulls off a tone that is set firmly between playing all of these things straight and winking all the time. Plus, he just has a great sense of humor – I laughed a lot and entirely because the movie wanted me to and not at the film.
But that is not all: John Wick has some of the best world building I’ve ever seen in an action film. There is an infrastructure in John Wick’s (under-)world that includes not only an honor system, but currency, safe spaces, a hotel, a general community and pretty much its own mythology (Speaking of mythology: I thought I’d have to die when Viggo refers to John as Baba Yaga – it was amazing).
It is not only Kolstad who did an excellent job with the film, though. The fight scenes are great, beautifully choreographed and shot without too much cutting – so you actually get to see what’s happening. I guess that’s the biggest advantage of having a (former) stuntman direct an action film. It was a thing of awesomeness. And the cast is excellent, too – I didn’t think I’d ever say that again of Keanue Reeves. But if there’s one thing he can do, it’s play one-note characters: he will hit that one note per film and he will hit it perfectly. Just don’t ask him to switch moods within one film. Fortunately nothing else is required in this film.
I was really blown away by the film and to my utter delight, it’s planned to be a trilogy with the second film already announced. I’m counting down the days already.