I was surprised to hear this film getting as much praise as it was getting. It’s a Keanu Reeves action flick for crying out loud; how good could it be? Well, it turns out it isn’t good; it’s great. Discounting The Raid 2, John Wick is the best action film I’ve seen in a good five years. It takes a surprising amount of time to build both its world and its characters and then, when the action kicks in, it starts kicking extremely hard. Reeves’ character is a clichéd one, but it plays perfectly to his strengths and the film does such a good job building him up that it totally works. Michael Nykvist is phenomenal as a wily mob leader. John Leguizamo and Ian McShane both have great cameos. Adriene Palicki is surprisingly good as a femme fatale. And Willem Dafoe as an old school assassin who also juices . . . oh, that brings up probably the biggest surprise of this film: it’s hilariously funny and not in a cheesy way or a so bad its good way. It’s genuinely witty and laugh out loud funny. And I really can’t tell you how good the world building is; what it accomplishes is to give these characters a genuine feeling of shared history. Movies try to do this a lot and they fail a lot, but the interactions here really do have the feel of people that have known each other for years. You feel the weight of their collective past. But let’s get to the action. High octane and incredibly fast paced, basically. The fight choreographer for this film is some kind of absolute genius. The first big action sequence, in which thirteen killers invade Wick’s home, is as bracing as a bucket of cold water to the face and a later sequence in a club called the Red Circle maintains its intensity for far, far longer than you’d think possible. This is easily the best Keanu Reeves film since the original Matrix. I’d almost say it’s every bit as good, if it isn’t quite as imaginative. Still, it’s an absolute must see. Highly recommended. 4 stars.
tl;dr – eye-popping action movie takes time with its characters and has a wonderful sense of humor; it’s an action movie like you rarely see anymore. 4 stars.