Keanu Reeves is back for his best action movie since the Matrix trilogy, and does not disappoint. “John Wick” stars Reeves as the protagonist John Wick, a retired hitman seeking revenge. Other notable actors include Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen and Willem Dafoe.
The most common criticism of Reeves’ performances is his iconic cheesiness. Ever since “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” it’s hard to picture Reeves as anybody but Ted Logan, exclaiming “dude” and “excellent” after every line. “Speed” was awesomely cheesy, “The Matrix,” while polished and hip, still had that undeniable cheesy Reeves performance.
However, playing Wick, Reeves delivers a solid performance with no hint of his previous roles. Perhaps it’s the fact that he plays a calm, composed, samurai-of-a-hitman, but I highly enjoyed Reeves’ persona. The moments where emotion is exposed have far more impact than scenes of Wick’s normally unflappable demeanor.
Alfie Allen and Michael Nyqvist also turn in top-tier performances as the antagonists, Nyqvist being the distinguished head of some sort of criminal organization and Allen as Nyqvist’s petulant spoiled son. The rest of the cast and even minor supporting actors all gave the movie a very complete feel.
Without giving any spoilers of any sort, the plot was fantastic. Unique motivations and a very deep and detailed world made the story fascinating and immersive. Well-paced character development, this movie had minimal exposition and followed the old adage of show, not tell.
Inspired by anime, the fight scenes are reminiscent of the gun fu, kung fu with guns, seen in Hong Kong cinema and American movies like “Equilibrium.” Unique enough to be novel and interesting, the fight scenes don’t go too far off the reservation and aren’t so different as to be in a genre of their own.
Another artsy twist I appreciated were the subtitles. With the movie’s fair amount of Russian speech, boring and plain subtitles were replaced with a somewhat unique spin. Different fonts or placement of subtitles within the movie had an almost comic book feel, adding to the movie’s uniqueness.
It’s honestly hard to find anything to complain about when it comes to “John Wick.” From head to toe, it’s one of my favorite movies in recent memory.
Even a little humor is sprinkled around this dark and serious movie, mixing things up with a couple of laughs without ruining the mood.
I’m personally against the idea of a sequel, which is already in the works. Some movies need to stand alone as singular pieces of storytelling without trying to squeeze every little dollar out of the franchise. However, I would not be surprised if a popular sequel was released. I’m sure I’ll see it, too. Mostly out of curiosity.