There is something truly magical about John Wick. Maybe it’s the surprise factor of heading into the theater and having no idea that we would be treated to one of the best action movies of the year.
Perhaps, it’s watching a movie star we quite enjoy here at Movie Fanatic, Keanu Reeves, doing his best work -- as an actor and as an action hero -- since that little independent movie called The Matrix?
Who cares why, this thing is bloody awesome.
Reeves is John Wick, a recently retired New York City-based assassin who found love and left the life behind.
As teased in the John Wick trailer, when his wife is taken from him, all that is left in this world is one of the cutest dogs we’ve seen onscreen in recent memory -- a posthumous gift from her. Then, that too is gone, Wick now has nothing and the gangsters who are responsible will pay.
It is fantastic how it is established that Wick’s assassin is not only one of the best at what he does, but may be the most dangerous man ever to call themselves a hired gun. There is humor in many of those moments, and in fact, these laugh out loud moments are impeccably sprinkled throughout the entirety of John Wick.
There’s also a world that exists in John Wick, from Derek Kolstad’s screenplay, that can in no way be remotely close to reality -- a hotel for hitmen? But, it doesn’t matter because this is a world crafted by directors David Leitch and Chad Stahelski, that has you chucking that suspension of disbelief right out the window from the get-go.
That is because of how the Wick character is introduced and subsequently painted through flashbacks, flash-forwards and a half dozen other plot movement points that are truly standard, yet feel sublimely original in John Wick.
Then, there are the action scenes. Prepare to hold your breath as watching Reeves at work is nothing short of an onscreen rollercoaster of thrills and chills for the audience. He has not lost a beat at the young age of 50, and might we even suggest, he’s better than ever -- even more action-astute than he was when you watch Point Break online.
And his characterization is spot-on. This thing does not work without him completely inhaling and exhaling this character every millisecond he’s on the screen -- which is practically the entire movie. There is a moment where he utters the words, "I'm thinking I'm back." We feel it in our bones and that is something truly special for what could have otherwise been a mindless action flick.
The ensemble around Reeves isn’t too shabby either. Willem Dafoe, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane and Adrianne Palicki all nail their supporting roles and all are spokes in the John Wick wheel of thrills.
Our John Wick review cannot recommend this film enough for action movie fans, Keanu Reeves fans and anyone who can appreciate a smart film that knows exactly what it is and doesn’t try to do anything more than that -- all while simultaneously pushing the envelope of what is possible in a genre film such as this. It is a treat of the highest quality of pure popcorn entertainment.
Is it one of our Top 15 Keanu Reeves movies? Oh, you bet... and in fact, it is right near the top.