He stole John Wick’s car and killed his dog….

I gotta admit, I kind of love these movies. Ever since I was a kid, a movie about an unstoppable bad ass is always fun. Lately though, the genre has become a little diluted.. I’m looking at you “Marine 3”. As easy as the genre was in years past, its increasingly difficult to pull it off just right. Make the protagonist too strong and it all kind of becomes silly. Make the antagonist too menacing and you’ll hate the protagonist for trying to do it all alone. In comes John Wick, a movie I had a really good feeling about since I first saw the trailer a few months ago.

The story follows the titular character John Wick. John is grieving the recent lost of his wife to a un-named disease. His wife’s final gesture was a new puppy, so that he wouldn’t be alone. John’s home is broken into by some Russian thugs, they steal his car and kill his dog for good measure. Now, robbed of everything he has ever loved. He can only think about one thing, vengeance.

John Wick is a legend in the underground world. Pretty much the only people who don’t know who John is, was the unfortunate thug in question Josef.  The thief in question actually happens to be the son of the former Russian boss who used to employ John. When he learns of what his son did, he explains it with perfect simplicity.

“It’s not what you did son… It’s who you did it too”

The son is shocked, how could one man be this big of a deal. The mob boss describes him the bogey man, actually as the person who you send to kill the bogey man. John Wick had successfully gotten out of the game by completing what is only described as an “impossible task”.  The bodies buried that day by John Wick lay the foundation for their entire empire.  It is now all in jeopardy because shortly after his wife passes away Josef killed his damn dog.  Also… lets be honest, its a damn cute dog, tell you wouldn’t want revenge for this little guy?

The simplicity presented in this film is why it excels. You are never told more than you need too. Even with this limited exposure, you are still treated to a pretty impressive world. Like the Continental hotel, a fancy establishment that hitman and criminals alike can stay at. There is only one rule, no “business” is allowed to be conducted on the grounds. It’s a pretty fun ride being reintroduced to the underworld with John. Everyone knows him, they are happy to see him and more importantly wondering “Are you back?”.

While the movie is about the fictional character of John Wick, it almost feels like this movie is the un-retirement of Keanu Reeves. Hit fits perfectly in this role, being 50 is the new 30. Keanu Reeves has always had this almost zen like presence, the perfect quiet and strong type. He excels at being a man of few words and few expressions. However, he doesn’t seem out of place when it comes to the physicality of the role. Tandem directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch , both stuntmen, had a clear vision of the action scenes and they are well executed. Again, simplicity is at the core of even the most unbelievable moments. John tends not to waste more than a few seconds on any particular enemy and is not a fan of being flashy. It’s an impressive feat for the first time directors, but their stunt work experience gives them a clear sense of confidence and film is the beneficiary of it.

In the end, you have the most refreshing take on anti-hero revenge story in a while.  You probably haven’t been this entertained by the genre since Liam Neeson’s Taken.  John Wick is a role pretty much built for Keanu Reeves and a world we kind of know but never seen before.  You almost wish you could spend a little more time in this parallel world that the characters inhabit.  That might be awesome, but I kind of hope that it doesn’t.  This movie feels like the ultimate one shot… what Taken should have been.  A sequel would only dilute the good time, so here is hoping to some restrain on the part of the freshman directors.

B+

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2AUmvWm5ZDQ]

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