When you think of Keanu Reeves, it’s probably the franchise you associate him with. At three installments, the “John Wick” series is known for its stylish cinematography, airtight fight choreography and a charismatic Reeves as the titular John Wick, the top hitman in a world of hitmen.
The film opens with Wick being retired for several years, mourning the recent death of his wife, Helen (Bridget Moynahan), when he receives a postmortem gift from here — a Beagle puppy named Daisy. Helen knew he would need something to love when she was gone, and for a time, Wick opens up to the pup, and it gives him purpose.
That all changes when he runs into Iosef Tarasov (Alfie Allen), the arrogant, psychotic son of Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist), head of the Tarasov Mob and Wick’s former boss. Iosef, unaware of who Wick is, meets him at a gas station and inquires about Wick’s vintage 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1, and attempts to buy it off him, but is quickly shut down by Wick.
So, Iosef follows Wick home, invades his house, steals his car and kills his dog, and basically signs his own death certificate. The rest of the film involves Wick hunting down Iosef, killing anyone his father hires to protect him, including other professional killers. Very early on, when a mechanic named Aurelio (John Leguizamo) refuses to work with Iosef, we know that people respect Wick more than Viggo and his mob, and when put in conflict with both, people generally fear Wick more than the mob.
There is a lot of time dedicated to building up Wick’s reputation as this ultimate badass, and the film could’ve fallen flat on its face had it not properly followed up by showing us why people fear him. but the film delivers with perhaps some of the best action scenes from its year. No punch, kick, or bullet is wasted, as each fight scene is a symphony of martial arts, guerilla fighting and gun-fu tactics, and director Chad Stahelski knows how to highlight the action with creative visuals — particularly when Wick follows Iosef into a club, filled with colorful lights that contrast deep blues with bright reds over Wick’s face — and the whole thing just comes together beautifully.
This movie earned every bit of reverence it has, though I can’t give it a perfect score, because I feel like this type of film has so much more to go before I can say there is nothing to be improved upon.
Thankfully, I have two other “John Wick” movies to catch up on.
“John Wick” 2014 gets an 8.5/10