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John Wick (2014) Movie Retro Review by Stephen McLaughlin

JOHN WICK

Directors: Chad Stahelski,  David Leitch (uncredited)
Writer: Derek Kolstad
Stars: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Adrianne Palicki, Bridget Moynahan, Dean Winters, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, and Willem Dafoe.

Ex-hitman John Wick comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that took everything from him.

The story follows Wick as the assassin returning to his old life by circumstances out of his control. John Wick was an exciting movie portraying him as a one man army who will stop at nothing until he seeks vengeance on those who have wronged him.

Keanu Reeves, despite having an impressive career, might not be the most dynamic actor. However, with great directing by Chad Stahelski and brilliant writing from Derek Kolstad, Reeves performs amazingly.

This is one of Reeves’ best roles since The Matrix as Mr ’The One’ Neo Anderson. He brings an air of confidence along with quiet yet forceful violence. Reeves displays good emotion and conviction as the character, and he also moves with certainty like a hitman would. Although it is predominantly action sequences, John Wick is also equipped with some emotional baggage. (Dog lovers will know what I mean by this)

The story is very straightforward and in the mould of films like The Equaliser or Taken. The main character is antagonised and has to make everything okay again. It’s that simple, but the trick is on the execution of the story. John Wick works well for a few reasons with the first being that this character is down Reeves street. There is a sadness Keanu Reeves brings to the film that works perfectly as you can’t help but cheer each time one of the bad guys is taken out. Viewers will also remember his devotion to his wife, which Reeves was able to project very well without words. He was sincerely in those touching scenes.

Michael Nyqvist is also excellent as Viggo Tarasov the Russian mobster and he too makes you believe his character. Willem Dafoe although used sparingly is also brilliant in his supporting role as Marcus, who is there for Wick as support after his wife passes.

One of the best things in this movie is the flair, fluidity and the clear focus and precision of the visuals (thanks to cinematographer Jonathan Sela) that are stunning and leave you gasping for more action. More ofter than not other movies employ a shaky camera or uncoordinated editing that ignore even the slightest of continuity that the eagle eyes out there notice. Credit to the movies editor Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir for the way the movie just flows particularly in those action sequences

Another important factor in what makes this movie so slick other than the visual and the editing is the way the sequences are choreographed. Keanu Reeves is no stranger to well executed action scenes in movies like Speed and The Matrix (remember he was part of the big thing back in 1999…..bullet time) Here the action is almost video game’esque but believable that reminded me of the scene in Kick-Ass with Hit Girl wearing night vision google and the execution is similar.

With the sequel being released in a few weeks time we wait with anticipation whether or not John Wick II will stand up against the original or perhaps surpass it. The movie has been out for 3 years now and if you haven’t seen it I recommend you do. Keanu Reeves is back with a bang.

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