John Wick Review: Guns. Lots of Guns.

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It’s been a long time since Keanu Reeves suited up for a massive action romp, but John Wick not only feels like a fresh start for the former Matrix star, but manages to send a great jolt of energy through the tired action genre.

The setup is simple. John Wick (Reeves) is a retired assassin grieving the unrelated death of his wife. Her parting gift to him was a puppy. But when he refuses to sell his classic car to a trio of Russian gangsters, they invade his home, kill his dog, and steal his car. And, like that, it’s time for revenge.

The film’s tone of otherworldy awesomeness becomes apparent after John swiftly kills another round of men invading his home and a cop knocks on the door.

“Noise complaint?” John inquires.

“Yeah…” the cop notices a body on the floor, “you working again?”

Everyone that comes into contact with John knows who he is. The normal ones don’t ask questions and the criminals run. That is, except for Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist), the Russian mobster whose son (Alfie Allen) killed John’s dog. He knows John is coming for his son, and does what he can to protect him. This leads to set piece after set piece of John, and therefore Keanu, being as awesome as he possibly can.

The best of these lasts just shy of half an hour and takes place in an elite New York City nightclub. Everyone knows the best shootouts are lit with neon and have a backdrop of pounding EDM. John Wick spends just the right amount of time here, creating a dense and unrelenting action sequence that might just be the best of its kind in 2014.

The other set pieces are great, but by the third act, the over-the-top schtick starts to outstay its welcome. This film is never boring, but it is a bit overlong given its simplicity and thin characters, both of which it almost flawlessly gets away with.

But for what it is, John Wick is an electric entry in the action genre. Keanu is in fine form, his signature over-acting while underperforming perfectly matching the film’s lovingly satirical tone. Combined with some of the best action of the year, and you’ve got one hell of a good time. Bring on the sequel! Grade: B+

By Matt Dougherty

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