John Wick is the most stylish action flick I've seen in a long time, and I watch just about all of them. It's not a surprise that Keanu Reaves can do action, it's a surprise that he works so well in a very dark mumbling way, and a surprise that nobody has through to cast him for such a part. He has come a very long way since Constantine.
Let's get straight to the goods, because just after watching this film, I took in two others: Interview with a Hitmant and Statham's remake of 'The Mechanic'.
First thing. John Wick has a very hot soundtrack. There are some muscle cars driving at night scenes in NYC that are just so classically slamming it makes you wonder why nobody hasn't done this formula well since Michael Mann's Collateral. It's like we almost forgot that badasses could be cool and slick. Thanks Bruce, but maybe you're not the only one who can look cool will fresh blood on your face and rocking music cranked. Reaves' John Wick has got money and an unspoken cred around all the powerful badguys in the super-cool underworld of this movie's NYC. And while Denzel's recent ass-kicker put a very interesting focus on some Eastern European baddies, his was a game of cat and mouse. Reaves is just relentless with only a touch of negotiation, which lasts about 2 minutes.
Second thing. Not since hmm, perhaps the last Bond film - but you know what to expect there - we'd have to go back beyond immediate memory, almost back to 'The Departed' has there been a slick action film that carried an amply fit supporting cast. John Wick is dappled with delicious talent all around including two of my favorites, Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy from Game of Thrones) and Lance Reddick, who is blowing up all over the place. Willem Dafoe, always brilliant, does some yoeman work as does John Leguizamo. Long time no see. Welcome back. So basically, you can't lose.
There's a new crew in town and Hollywood did it up well. This is one we can watch again. Why? Because it's very cool, and Reaves pulled off just the right balance. This is an action hero I want to see again, with his new dog.
There's something more to be said about these Eastern European gangsters. I love how I have seen them done recently, not callow or furtive like the now stereotypical Jihadi bangers. Not extravagantly corrupt or venal, but powerful and limited and vulnerable and aggravated and deadly serious. It's all encapsulated in Michael Nyqvist's Viggo. Well played.
The existence of John Wick and Reaves, if he can do this again, gives us a chance to see what we've been missing in the raging loudness of Nick Cage. Cage was best, in my view, in Lord of War, where he get to be a subtle, yet brazen deceiver, probably the best role for him taking the baton from Jack Nicholson, although Pacino was brilliant in The Devil's Advocate. Congrats all around.
Now none of this would be worth beans if John Wick didn't have a unique style of kickass, and he does. It's basically CQ with some fabulous pistol work, basically the best I 've seen in any movie, period. There was something extraordinarily greusome that was the excitement of Matt Damon's CQ work in the Bourne series, but this is something a lot more gritty. The old Mozambique, two to the chest and one to the head, and Wick's would be killers are done for. There's some excellent grappling and new twists on knife fighting that you simply don't see on film. Extra cool.
Don't miss this one.