It’s almost impressive how little emotional range Keanu Reeves can demonstrate. When he’s looking up, he’s trying to be thoughtful. When he’s staring straight ahead, he’s usually angry. When he looks down, he’s supposed to be sad. In John Wick, he plays a former hit man whose dog is killed by the Russian mafia. First, he looks down a lot. Then he looks straight ahead a whole lot. Dozens of people die. The dialogue in John Wick is atrocious; I’m half-surprised none of the characters ever say “placeholder text here” aloud at any point in the movie. But the action is gruesome, plentiful, and beautifully shot. (It should come as no surprise to viewers that the first-time directors are former stuntmen.) And as the revenge plot unfolds, we discover a separate economy for the criminal underworld complete with its own currency, laws, and nightlife. It’s a neat idea, and John Wick doesn’t get too precious about it, keeping the focus strictly on the non-emotive juggernaut at the film’s center. Willem Dafoe, Ian McShane, and Adrianne Palicki stop by for brief, entertaining supporting turns. So far as action movies go, John Wick isn’t a classic, but it is a competently made bloodbath.
Director: Chad Stahelski
Producer: Basil Iwanyk, David Leitch, Eva Longoria, Peter Lawson, Mike Upton, Kevin Frakes, Raj Singh, Sam Eyde, Tara Moross, Darren Blumenthal, Joseph Vincenti and Erica Lee
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Willem Dafoe, Dean Winters, Adrianne Palicki, Omer Barnea, Toby Moore, Bridget Moynahan, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane, Bridget Regan, Lance Reddick, Keith Jardine and Tait Fletcher