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John Wick

Genre: Action and Adventure, Thriller

Director: Chad Stahelski

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Adrianne Palicki, Bridget Moynahan, Dean Winters, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, Willem Dafoe

MPAA-Rating: R

Release Date: October 24th, 2014

John Wick marks the return of Keanu Reeves. With only a few lines of dialogue and a character driven by intensity and violence, information pills Reeves has found the perfect vehicle to thrive in. This title character is defined by his facial expressions and by the legend that precedes him and the actor knows how to play him well enough to keep audiences on his side and rooting for him, viagra order despite the mayhem he unleashes.

When the story begins, Wick lives a simple life in a large and meticulous house. There’s little we know about him save for the fact that he recently lost his wife (Bridget Moynahan). Wick is in mourning until a package arrives with a cute little dog his wife scheduled to be sent to him once she passed. The dog is a cute little companion to Wick and in a few sly scenes, we see Wick trepidatiously bonding with his new pet.

After a chance encounter with the smarmy Russian gangster Iosef Tarasov (Alfie Allen) at a gas station though, all of Wick’s life is sent into a tailspin. Tarasov and a Russian gang of thugs invades Wick’s house, steals his car and kills his dog.

The dog was one step too far.

What then unfolds is a traditional revenge tale featuring Wick avenging the death of his beloved puppy by slicing and dicing his way through the Russian mafia. The plot may be traditional but it’s the added details that make this drama stand out from its more stereotypical brethren. The uniqueness here starts with the dog. In choosing the dog’s murder as the impetus for the story, screenwriter Derek Kolstad wisely picked a character that would immediately earn the audience’s affection. A wife being murdered to start a revenge tale is more traditional but that also involves more dialogue and a complete relationship being built; featuring a dog is much easier because it allows the audience to bond with this puppy very quickly (and its cute looks help matters along).

John Wick steadily builds momentum until its final shootout, wasting little time in the process. The title character is a simple man and there’s little elegance or extravagance in his approach to violence (a far cry from the stylish Matrix series). The character here shoots people in the face like an accountant types numbers on a calculator. It’s just a job and the goal for assassins like him is simply to kill and not be killed.

There’s a simplicity here that is keenly appealing. Like the main character in the more stylish Drive, John Wick barely talks and there are few side moments that seem out of place. There’s also no fully-realized back story, which makes the legend of the main character even more appealing (“He was the one you get to kill the… Boogeyman,” one character notes in explaining Wick’s background). To its great credit though, the film subtly introduces keen parts of Wick’s former life. From the hotel known for hosting murderous monsters (it’s against the rules to conduct business there) to the quiet crew sent in to clean up murder scenes, John Wick is detail-oriented, smart and a lot more subtle than you would think.

Welcome back, Keanu Reeves.

Review by: John Hanlon