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Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Movie Review: ‘John Wick’

TEASER-TRAILER.COM Keanu Reaves returns to the big screen in the outrageously action-packed "John Wick."
Keanu Reaves returns to the big screen in the outrageously action-packed “John Wick.”


“John Wick” never pretends to be more than it is: a simple, sleek and exciting action shooter.

Playing the titular character, Keanu Reeves is back to his gun-slinging ways — and he delivers mightily. Chad Stahelski, Reeve’s “Matrix” stunt double, co-directs and proves that fight scenes are truly his strong suit. This exciting team succeeds in creating one of the most entertaining assassin films in years.

John Wick is a retired contract killer, enjoying life as a family man in a beautiful (murder-funded) home with his wife. The movie’s first scenes show her passing away and leaving John a dog in her memory. Soon, Russian thugs kill the dog, and Mr. Wick returns to his former assassin career, bloodthirsty for revenge. It’s a very simple, short story without a real “good” guy. There is no attempt to portray any kind of depth in the screenplay, but this allows viewers to enjoy the film for what it is. It’s all surface-level, but, granted, this surface is mesmerizingly cool.

The film exudes neo-noir with a predominantly gray-scale color schematic. Every car is black, every suit Wick wears is black and just about every scene has a black overcast. It’s ominous. The only real break from this is the pervasive splatter of blood.

This neo-noir aura is accentuated by the set and costume designs, which are consistently very sleek and modern. Wick’s home is large, white and furnished with expensive block-like furniture. His beloved muscle car is dark and polished. Aside from the white T-shirt he wears in his house, John is always decked out in completely black attire with slicked-back hair. The rest of the characters are similarly smooth and elegant in their dress.

John is a man of few words, but that’s no problem for Keanu Reeves, who doesn’t seem to have any trouble being a silent killer. Striking with “Matrix”-reminiscent precision, Reeves never lets up in this film. He is back to his old ways, and this is just the role his career needed. Not only is he near perfect for this type of character, but it will also undoubtedly reshape his own image which has practically fallen off the map in the past decade. Viewers have been waiting patiently for another Keanu box-office killer, and I expect “John Wick” has given them just that.

Reeves is also receiving an enormous amount of support from a high-profile cast in “John Wick.” Willem Dafoe plays Marcus, John’s only friend, and — no surprise — he plays a fellow assassin. Dafoe delivers his work the way many have come to expect: awesome, with a little bit of crazy. As the Russian leader deathly afraid of Wick, Michael Nyqvist also executes his role well, sharing his character’s sense of calculated calmness. Playing his son Alfie Allen is Iosef Tarasov. His acting range is impressive, especially because most will associate him with his role as Theon Greyjoy in “Game of Thrones.” His young-looking face makes it easy for him to play an immature, child-like character. The last notable role is that of rival assassin Ms. Perkins, portrayed by Adrianne Palicki. She does a commendable job, never betraying her character’s nihilistic greed while beaming of overconfidence at all the seemingly inappropriate times.

Due to the lack of intricate characters, nobody stands out as particularly amazing in his or her role. However, nobody jumps out as terrible either, which is crucial because it does not detract from the on-screen excitement.

The fight scenes and the cinematography that records them are just as slick as the film’s other aspects. The camera shot always follows the action smoothly and tends to pan out wide enough so the audience can track the entirety of the sequence. John Wick’s movements mirror the fluidity of a video game without player control. Of course, Wick is pinpoint accurate the vast majority of the time and possesses a seemingly divine intuition that allows him to progress through hordes of Russian thugs. And we get to get see exactly how he does it.

There’s not much intellectual substance within the plot of “John Wick.” Once you accept this, the film is entertaining. Stuntmen-turned-directors David Leitch and Chad Stahelski impress in their debut, creating a film that tops lists of great action flicks. The fight sequences never fall prey to the common strategy of using chaotic sensory overload to induce an audience’s exhilaration. Instead, the film is portrayed smoothly and cleanly. “John Wick” is an hour and a half of quality “shoot ‘em up” scenes, and it’s an exceptional comeback for Keanu Reeves.

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