John Wick is a 2014 American neo-noir action-thriller drama film directed by Chad Stahelski, in his directorial debut, and written by Derek Kolstad. The movie was a commercial success, spawning two sequels and perhaps inspiring a new ultraviolet action sub-genre. Certainly, John Wick revitalised the career of Keanu Reeves to such an extent that Matrix 4 was surely made on the back of his renewed popularity.
S P O I L E R S F O L L O W
Arguably, one might say that John Wick is an update on the Charles Bronson brand of revenge flicks (remember Death Wish from 1974?), especially if merely based on its one-line premise viz. an ex-hit-man comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that killed his dog and took everything from him (courtesy imdb). But of course, while the premise is fairly unoriginal and cliched, the presentation is succinctly contemporary, reflecting the influence of anime and superhero movies that were non-existent in the mid-1970s.
Story-wise there’s not much meat on the bones. With character development usually not a big concern for action-thrillers either, the plot basically moves from one action sequence to another. Once the main character’s motivation has been clearly established, it’s all systems go with unrelenting violence the result. Which is fine as “unrelenting violence” is the whole point of John Wick.
The lead role fits Keanu Reeves to a ’t’ – with his deadpan, wooden expression lending itself more to the dogged stoic warrior than the numerous rom-coms that Reeves has been awkwardly cast in, when he was a younger man. Reeves does a good job with John Wick’s extreme James Bond impression – bloody violence in an expensive suit being the order of the day.
Considering how spare both plot and characterisation in John Wick, it’s amazing to consider that two sequels came out of this movie. But that’s Hollywood for you!
Now streaming on Netflix.
… still there’s more …