At The Omniplex: One Of The Best Hollywood Action Movies In Years

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‘John Wick’

By John Lyons

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Keanu Reeves as ‘John Wick’.

‘JOHN Wick’ is a sequel to an action film that never existed, and that’s what makes it interesting.

While most action franchises would characteristically start with an origin story, ‘John Wick’ instead opts for the opposite – a straight-out retirement story.

Keanu Reeves stars as the titular character, a retired hitman in mourning.

What furthermore sets the film apart from your stereotypical action film is that rather than immediately nose-diving into ninety minutes of non-stop action, ‘John Wick’ takes an entirely different approach.

The film begins where it ends: with a bullet-riddled SUV grinding to a halt on the outskirts of New York City.

The driver’s door opens and a bloodied and bruised man falls out. He crawls away from the wreckage, takes out his phone, and watches an old video of him and his beloved wife during happier times.

This is John Wick. And now we’re going to find out what happened to him.

A lot of films are so obsessed with getting the story going as soon as possible that they rarely give us a moment to get a sense of who the characters are.

The biggest offenders, in this regard, are usually action films. As a result, it’s hard to find an action film that’s genuinely compelling.

But the first fifteen minutes of ‘John Wick’ tenderly establish Wick as a profoundly lonely man who is coming to terms with loss, and not only are no punches thrown or gunshots fired, but not much is even said.

This quiet and beautifully contemplative sequence echoes a type of existentialism that would normally be found in eastern Asian cinema.

We see John Wick silently give a tearful goodbye to his terminally ill wife. We watch as he attends her funeral, and leaves, alone.

And finally, we observe him receiving a delivery at his doorstep: a puppy and letter from his late wife, instructing him never to lose hope.

The puppy, Daisy, is the symbol of that hope. A reminder to Wick that he does not have to grieve alone.

But after a group of armed thugs invade Wick’s home in order to steal his car, and intentionally kill his dog in the process, he has one thing on his mind – revenge.

What follows is pure, unadulterated carnage through the seedy underbelly of a New York crime syndicate.

The action scenes are so marvelously realised and expertly choreographed that it comes as no surprise that ‘John Wick’ was directed by two former stunt co-ordinators.

The characters are relentless, remorseless, and riveting throughout, with especially wonderful performances from Alfie Allen, Michael Nyqvist, and, of course, Keanu Reeves.

Reeves’ filmography since ‘The Matrix’ has been patchy (to say the least), but with ‘John Wick’ he re-establishes himself as an action superstar and an actor with a legitimate emotional range.

Fans of films such as ‘Taken’ and ‘Jack Reacher’ can rejoice because ‘John Wick’ has all the ingredients of a classic revenge thriller and it’s one of the best action films to emerge from Hollywood in years.


Follow John Lyons on Twitter: @Fireinthelyons

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