I'm glad I hadn't already posted my Top 10 Movies of 2014 (still working on that list) when I watched this one, cause I think I just found a new favorite! The action choreography is great, it's stylish, professionally messy and creative. It's mostly gunfights, but there's a little struggle too, and I'm reminded once again that there's good action, and then there's good acting... and on rare occasions there's both!
Keanu Reeves plays John Wick. John is a regular guy, an average nobody who's wife just died. There's a flashback, there's a funeral, and then one day a delivery woman comes knocking on his door with a package, a little puppy and a note from his dead wife. It reads that she loves him, that life's been tough, but now that she's gone she wants him to find something to live for again. And the car doesn't count.
Looking back, the part when he receives the packages feels all the more emotional, and so much more important because of all the pain it causes him. A day later, he runs into a few guys at a gas station, and one of them wants to buy his car. He isn't selling. The guy leans into his window, compliments him on his (incredibly cute) dog sitting in the front seat, and says in Russian, as if speaking to the dog: "Everything has a price, bitch". John responds, also in Russian: "Not this bitch", and drives away, leaving a baffled gang member by the pumps. Of course, we don't know he is a gang member yet, but there are certain hints. And we don't know who John really is either.
Did you think his knowing Russian was a surprise? Looking back, I suppose it was a subtle hint, as was the other flashback at the start of the movie. The one where he's bleeding out in the gutter, dressed up as if for a funeral. Usually I don't like introductory flashbacks like that. I imagine they might spoil the ending, but not this time. The story grows on you as it expands, as does this one no-name John, just this average Joe slowly morphing into the beast he had tried to hide away.
The movie moves past phases of rationality and revenge, through stylishly filmed sceneries and violent encounters, with a thirst for vengeance that grows, as does the presence of this main character. Keanu puts on a killer act, as does Michael Nyqvist, even if his accent isn't very Russian. As does everyone else for that matter.
It's a savage movie, one with story and sacrifice. It feels real enough without needing to tone down on the action, and builds up a strong atmosphere as it goes, with strong personalities, even if certain details fit in more like expected stereotypes than ingredients necessary to spice things up. Like Ms. Perkins. And I'm not just saying that because things would have worked out much better for some people were it not for her involvement! In the end, it closes conclusively. Great watch.
rated 5/5: friggin awesome