In commemoration of the upcoming sequel, JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3 – PARABELLUM (2019) I’ve decided that I might as well round off my reviews for the trilogy and finally get to the one that started it all. In addition, for my review of the sequel, click the following link: JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 (2017)
Cast: Keanu Reeves (REPLICAS , TO THE BONE , NEON DEMON , and the upcoming TOY STORY 4 ), Michael Nyqvist (HUNTER KILLER  and MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 4 ), Alfie Allen (THE PREDATOR , and upcoming films JOJO RABBIT  and HOW TO BUILD A GIRL ), Adrianne Palicki (G.I. JOE: RETALIATION ), and Bridget Moynahan (I, ROBOT , SERENDIPITY , and the upcoming CROWN VIC )
Director: Chad Stahelski (the other John Wick movies)
Writer: Derek Kolstad (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of)
Producer: Eva Longoria (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of)
Composers: Tyler Bates (SPY/DUMPED , GUARDIANS  and 2 ) and Joel J. Richard (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of, and the upcoming TRIPLE THREAT )
Cinematographer: Jonathan Sela (DEADPOOL 2 , ATOMIC BLONDE , and the upcoming HOBBS & SHAW )
Editor: Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir (ATOMIC BLONDE)
This is my honest opinion of: JOHN WICK
Set in New York. Retired assassin John Wick (Keanu Reeves) recently had to bury his beloved wife Helen (Bridget Moynahan). Days after her passing, he receives a puppy beagle, named Daisy, on his doorstep as a final memento from Helen to move on and love something other than his car. Respecting her final wish, he cares for the loving puppy. One night out, John encounters Iosef Tarasov (Alfie Allen), son of the leader of the Russian syndicate Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist). Knowing of John’s penchant for being the guy you send to kill the Boogeyman, John comes out of retirement to hunt down Iosef, leaving a trail of corpses in his wake.
Man, I forgot how much I loved this movie. Reeves just knows how to pick his action movie, doesn’t he?
You know what makes this movie damn near perfect? It’s because it knows what it is and never tries to be anything else. It knew how to quickly establish our hero, heart-broke over the death of his wife, whom he clearly loved, and seems to at least tolerate dogs in his own gruff way. But the movie doesn’t waste its seconds in establishing where we want the story to go. We see some douche bag make threats, invades John’s home, kills his dog, steals the car, arms himself with shit he buried under concrete, and goes tactical ape-shit on everyone that crosses him.
The first action sequence is about the closest to dull as the action gets in this movie, and it’s still pretty bad-ass. John and a bad guy on opposite sides of a wall, bad guy shoots where John’s head would be if he was standing up, but John knowing that ducks and shoots upward killing the bad guy, it’s pretty fun. Even when the action ends, the movie takes time to tap into our inner children who pretended to be spies and throws out a bunch of code words. “I’d like to make a reservation for twelve,” meaning “I need twelve bodies to be discreetly taken care of.” I love shit like this and every time a new phrase gets mentioned, it’s fun to try and imagine what they mean. Too much fun.
But let’s face it, from the moment the nightclub shootout begins, all bets are off and the movie is at its finest. Now we have the awesome stunts, with Reeves jumping on dude, pinning them down in ways that prevent them from getting up while he kills a couple other dudes, only to kill the dude he’s on top of, the painful and bloody deaths, shooting a guy in the leg then the head in less than a second, it’s just pure blood-lust in the best possible way.
What’s also great is its got its own brand of humor. The cop that checks up on John, clearly under the Continental’s employ, the hotel manager (Lance Reddick) waiting patiently for John to answer his phone call as John is in the middle of a fist-fight with Ms. Perkins (Adrianne Palicki), in his underwear no less, or my personal favorite <<<SPOILERS – highlight to reveal>>> [ Dean Winters, whom everyone ought to know as Mr. Mayhem from the Allstate commercials, getting axed off by getting hit by John’s car. How beautifully ironic and self-referential can a movie like this get? Just a whole lot of “FUCK YEAH” all around. ] <<<END SPOILERS>>>
Overall, yeah, I love the shit out of this movie. I think it’s more or less just as good as the sequel, depending on what you’re going for. This movie has the emotional drive, thanks to the dog and wife dying, so we feel for his rage much better. Plus, all the memes that came from it. But I will say the action was far better in CHAPTER 2 than this one, and this had some pretty great action scenes to build from. If you want a truly awesome action movie that never tries to be anything more than what it is, you’re in for a special treat. Keanu Reeves is back and better than ever, baby!
My honest rating for JOHN WICK: 5/5