In Review: John Wick

by Tony Griffiths on 08/04/2015

john wick

If you find the action genre circa 1980s and 90s to be a tiresome platform for mindless violence and cheesy dialogue then please do disregard revenge flick John Wick – there’s nothing to see here. However, if you think the likes of Tango and Cash (1989) and Point Break (1991) are under-appreciated masterpieces, bursting at the seams with mindless violence and cheesy dialogue, then John Wick might just blow your mind.

When we meet John Wick (a suitably wooden Keanu Reeves) he is mourning the loss of his wife. His large, expensive house feels empty. It rains a lot. Respite arrives in the form of a puppy – a gift from John’s wife beyond the grave – and for a while life is all slobbery alarm clocks and walks in the park. Then a tragic chance encounter with some Russian hoodlums leads to a home invasion, a stolen car and a redundant bag of pedigree chum. Unfortunately for said hoodlums, led by Game of Thrones’ Alfie Allen as the clueless son of the local mob boss, John Wick is a man with a dark past and once he’s on the warpath the film begins to alternate between explosive set pieces and older characters saying: “They killed whose dog?”

There isn’t really much more to it than that. The action is slick, screenwriter Derek Kolstad’s tongue is firmly in his cheek and the plot is unashamedly predictable. This is revenge served cold by action cinema’s coolest new creation.

But just because you can practically see the filmmakers winking at you doesn’t mean you’re going to have fun. Come the film’s final third (if you’ve got that far) the joke is wearing a little thin and the action feels less polished. What starts out as a solid premise fortified by playful homage crumbles during a laboured, if not incredulous, finale.

Most action fans won’t care a jot about the film’s failings, for it does exactly what it says on the tin. Just make sure you know what you’re getting into before you open the lid.

Tony has awarded John Wick three Torches of Truth 

3 torches cropped

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