Matthew Austin

Review: John Wick

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John Wick

Action thriller John Wick sees its titular character (played by Keanu Reeves) hunting down members of the Russian mafia after they break into his home, steal his prized car and kill his dog. It’s very much a summer movie, light on story but with a lot of high-octane action. And despite a few problems, it is a very enjoyable film.

Keanu Reeves is no stranger to action films, having starred in cult favourites like The Matrix, Point Break and Speed. Unsurprisingly, he is once again excellent as an action star. He does most of his own stunts in the movie, helping make the action look more believable. This might be Reeves’ best performance in a few years. Certain scenes, particularly at the beginning of the film, require him to show certain emotions, which he pulls off well.

But a strong hero is nothing without a powerful villain. John Wick gives us two, in the form of father-son duo Iosef (Alfie Allen, Game of Thrones) and Viggo Torosov (Michael Nyqvist, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). Iosef is cocky, arrogant and brash, and is responsible for the killing of John Wick’s dog, while Viggo is the level-headed leader of the Russian mafia. Both deliver excellent performances, with Nyqvist in particular being a standout.

Directed by Chad Stahelski, Reeves’ former stunt double, John Wick is presented in a very slick and stylish manner. Taking place mostly at night, it makes use of various settings, including a nightclub, to give the film a vibrant and colourful look. The action scenes are all wonderfully choreographed. Many action films in recent years have suffered from the use of certain techniques that make it almost impossible to focus on the action and end up hindering the film. John Wick doesn’t have that problem. Every action scene is well done, with a steady camera angle, some excellent tracking shots and brilliant sound design making the action feel visceral and wonderfully brutal.

While the film does many things well, there are several problems that hold it back slightly. The character of John Wick is presented as a legendary hitman. Though it is undeniably fun watching him clean house, there aren’t many moments throughout the film where it feels like the character is in danger of dying, save for a couple of scenes towards the end. As a result, the film doesn’t really have a sense of urgency. In addition, the final fight scene is something of a let-down. It’s not bad, but it doesn’t really live up to the high standard set by the rest of the film.

Despite these problems, John Wick is a fun time at the cinema. If you’re a fan of action movies, you should definitely check this one out.