John Wick was the sleeper hit nobody saw coming. Some random, no-name action movie headlined by Keanu Reeves? Isn’t he washed up, or something? Oh, how foolish we were. Who knew this would end being one of the best action films of the 21st century? With John Wick: Chapter 2 on the horizon this week, I’ve decided to revisit this modern action classic.

Reeves stars as John Wick, a retired assassin who is just trying to live a normal life after the death of his wife. One night, a group of Russian thugs break into his home, steal his car, and kill his beloved puppy. Enraged that everything dear has been stripped from him, he embarks on a one man killing spree against the Russian Mafia to kill the ones who have wronged him.

A simple premise? Sure, but that’s part of what makes the film so brilliant. This is an action film, and we need a quick catalyst that will emotionally resonate with the audience. Who doesn’t love puppies, right? With one being so brutally murdered right off the bat, you instantly want to see Wick get the blood he’s out for. Some may call it cheaply manipulative, but it serves a greater purpose to Wick’s character. This dog was the last semblance of his soul mate, and soul, he had left, and it was swiftly and remorselessly stripped from him. This is a man who wants to leave the criminal underworld he belongs to, but no matter what he tries, he’s always stripped back down to his bare necessities. He gets no time to love, or bond, because that underworld will always be calling. He doesn’t have an arc throughout the film, but he doesn’t need one. He has his one goal: get his revenge.

Keanu Reeves is excellent in the title role, perfectly selling the cold, calculated badass, with a clearly complicated past. They don’t delve too much into how he came to be, but that’s perfectly fine. The mystery surrounding him and his terrifying reputation is much more interesting. He has such a presence about him, that you feel it whenever he’s off screen, mostly because the other characters build him up so much. Watching this is practically like watching The Terminator from the Terminator’s perspective, and boy, do you ever want to see him terminate. There’s a constant tension and energy throughout, with constant ramp ups that crescendo with the incredible action scenes. The director remembered what should be one of the easiest rules to action filmmaking: the most important part is being able to see the action! The careful camerawork coupled with slick editing clearly captures the stylishly choreographed ballet of violence. There’s not a moment goes by watching this where I’m not “Oohing,” and “Ahhing,” at the slickness of the filmmaker’s craft.

The film is no slouch in the script department either. When we’re not busy watching Reeves twirling around and blasting skulls, there’s a fantastic sense of world building and style to the movie, to where you’re even having fun reading the subtitles! Wick acts as a vessel where we get to experience this fascinating world of classy underground assassins. He runs into many other hitmen, both with him and against him, where they use their own currency, stay at their own hotel, and their own bizarre code of honor. These little touches not only make the film more fun, but feel much more immersive. The filmmakers didn’t just set out to make a generic action film. They wanted to do something more and give audiences something a bit different.

There are so many elements that make this film work, and all of those elements are executed flawlessly. For what it sets out to do, John Wick is an explosive masterpiece in revenge action cinema. If you want exhilarating action scenes featuring terrific choreography and stunt work, directed with the utmost style and perfection, look no further than here. If you also want a mysterious, yet compelling central character, with terrific world building, then continue to look no further. I put this up there with Dredd, Mad Max: Fury Road, and The Raid: Redemption as one of the best action films of the 21st century. It’s modern action filmmaking executed in the most impeccable way. Let’s hope the sequel is just as awesome.


1 Comment
  1. I will be checking this movie out now!

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