Greetings readers! As the beginning of a new week is upon us, I thought it best to start out by providing my review of this past weekend’s only new feature that had captured my interest, and what a choice it was! So why waste any further time…let’s get into it! I present to you…..”John Wick”.
WATCH THE TRAILER HERE
Directed by two first-timers in stuntmen David Leitch & Chad Stahelski, the film takes us to Chicago and into the life of a retired hitman, John Wick (Keanu Reeves), who, through an initial series of brief flashback images and video on his cell phone, we learn is dealing with a recent and grievous loss in his newly reformed life, a loss felt in particular by a close former associate, Marcus (Willem Dafoe). John has relegated himself to a sheltered, lonely existence in his very oversized home, mainly just going through the motions of grief and mourning, until one day unexpectedly, a package is delivered to him, and upon reading its accompanying note, starts to have a semblance of hope that things CAN get better for him. However, a chance run in at a local gas station with a small group of Russian thugs puts Wick back on edge, even as his new gift is a point of focus for him trying to hold things together. When a circumstance occurs one night at his house that shatters everything for him again, a new path is made clear for Wick, who is now forced to get back into the game he tried once to get away FROM. Another party who is NONE too pleased to learn about this sudden and drastic change in heart is former boss, Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist), a Russian Mob leader whose wayward son, Iosef (Alfie Allen) is to blame for stirring up the trouble along with his two closest friends, Gregori (Omer Barnea) and Victor (Toby Leonard Moore). Initially tasking his right hand man, Avi (Daniel Winters), to take care of matters, Viggo soon discovers it ISN’T going to be THAT easy to handle the hitman formerly known as “The Boogeyman”. Setting up shop in a well-established downtown hotel run by another former friend, Winston (Ian McShane), and an always willing to lend a hand manager Charon (Lance Reddick), Wick takes on the immense task of righting the wrongs done to him, including having to face off against some of Viggo’s top assassins, including Ms. Perkins (Adrianne Palicki), Kirill (Daniel Bernhardt) and others. The further he gets into his journey of chaos, the mettle of both Wick and Viggo are put to the ultimate test, and Wick finds which people he can still trust, and those who might actually betray him from his former life. Can his peace be found again once back in this dark underworld of organized crime and what it entails for him? That is the question Wick faces as events continue to spiral closer and closer to the final goal in a quest to ultimately honor the memory of lost love and make the Viggo and his people regret ever having been familiar with the name…John Wick. Any further details would constitute spoilers and not going to go there, as all of you who’ve followed my reviews for a while now know.
Folks….THIS is what a high-powered, adrenaline-fueled, INTENSE action film should be! I loved how the story initially starts us out with enough information about Wick to get invested in him: to understand WHY he left his original employment, to engage with his efforts to live a peaceful life, even while having to deal with the loss he’s suffered, to be provided a path to follow that shows him hope. But when ALL of that gets seriously shaken up…you just FEEL the mayhem that begins to boil under the surface and as everything is put in place from that point on, watching Wick in full out attack mode is an exercise in deadly intent and unquestioning precision. He’s mad….but he’s a completely IN CONTROL kind of mad…SO assured in the skill set he possesses…that wading into the whole situation without pause, but with TOTAL confidence, just absolutely takes you along instantly and breathlessly. The odds, of course, seem completely daunting, but Wick can take care of THAT with utmost efficiency. Keanu Reeves just OWNS this character, and all of its attitude, rage, even brief moments of humor, so well, you just cannot help but charge in with him. And you actually know he is a man of deep passion, that he DOES care about things, and it’s this face that Keanu wears with excellent fluidity throughout the film. Our supporting players, especially veterans like Dafoe and Nyqvist, fit perfectly into their roles. Nyqvist’s Viggo Tarasov exudes the correct amount of menace while doling out orders to his underlings to try and fulfill the impossible…stop Wick. Allen plays the son with all the bravado that makes you just WANT the guy to get his. McShane and Reddick are actually quite entertaining in their parts as the masters of a seriously crooked hotel that still has its house rules, even for the criminal elements that dominate its occupancy. Palicki and Bernhardt also seem to relish their roles as master assassins who tend to be some of the only ones that can actually give Wick a run for his money. And even “Mayhem” (you know, from the insurance commercials?) himself Dean Winters, gets to find out that while he may want OTHER people to be protected from “Mayhem”, I think he forgot about protecting HIMSELF! Visually, the film is just as furious as it sounds, the violence IS truly in your face and visceral, but that IS what works for this story. And in the midst of it all, there are actually moments of both pathos and humor! But it is the intensity OF it that just captures you and keeps you glued to your seat! Add to this a pounding rock soundtrack and this really is one of THE BEST action films out there….PERIOD!
As always, this is all for YOUR consideration and comment. Until next time, thank you for reading!