Opening January 29, 2015
Directed by: Chad Stahelski, David Leitch (uncredited)
Writing credits: Derek Kolstad
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Willem Dafoe, Dean Winters, Adrianne Palicki, Omer Barnea, Toby Leonard Moore, Ian McShane, Bridget Moynahan, John Leguizamo
Length: 101 minutes
Once notorious for taking care of other people’s problems, John quit the business. He knows more happiness than “I rightfully deserved”, until his wife dies followed by an encounter with Marcus (Dafoe). When three Russian boneheads (Allen, Barnea, Moore) make the mistake of behaving badly, John’s taste for revenge shortens his retirement. Once again, he involves himself with Viggo (Nyqvist), i.e. the mob, Winston (McShane), and others. Thing is, John Wick (Reeves) knows and plays by the rules, so many shady characters think well of him.
The abundance of riveting noiresque violence is so fluid audiences hold their collective breath rather than close their eyes. Derek Kolstad’s tight script has a straightforward, antihero premise grounded in plausibility with fleshed out characters that also generates laughter with well-placed quips. Brilliantly executed action scenes, utilizing master frames, are built on influences Chad Stahelski and David Leitch respect: Japan for its martial arts films and animation, and Hong Kong for choreographed fight scenes using gun fu techniques. This is their first working reunion with Reeve's since The Matrix trilogy. The actors are in top-notch form. Whether shooting tranquil or turbulent scenes, Jonathan Sela’s camerawork flows facilitating Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir’s editing. Steering the film’s acceleration is excellently placed original music from Tyler Bates’ with music composed by Joel J. Richard. The resulting adrenalin high leaves us gasping, yet ready for another sit-through. Even children know better than to mess with the bogyman. (Marinell H.)