A satisfactory action movie. This is about a retired hitman (Keanu Reeves), who decides to pick back up the ol’ gun and holster when some no good Russian gangsters rob/assault him one night, stealing his car and killing his dog in the process. I think this may have been overhyped for me; when this debuted at Fantastic Fest, many a person clamored on and on about how cool the action is. Now that I’ve seen it, I’ll say that it is pretty slick, but this is almost exactly the same movie that The Equalizer is, except thankfully, this is 30 minutes shorter.
Stories about former mercenary killers getting dragged back into the game on a revenge fueled kill fest kind of have a formula.
This is pretty cool and stylish, and while it may be better than most, I still found myself unable to make any sort of strong connection with this movie, as it really isn’t anything I haven’t seen before. The fighting choreography is pretty well done, but it never reaches anything groundbreaking like The Raid. This mostly feels cold and calculated, which also hindered me from completely getting on board with this; any movie that offs a defenseless animal in cold blood knows exactly what it’s doing, and it is obvious to see that this is only here to get you to want to see the antagonists meet their maker via manipulating you.
Although to be fair, this is Theon Greyjoy we’re talking about here, and he can’t help but be a sniveling bastard.
I really feel that I should have ended up liking this more, as they do a good job of building the legend behind the main character, and have a smart protagonist who has clearly watched Zombieland, because he knows how to double-tap. They keep it simple, and they make the intelligent decision to keep Keanu’s dialogue short and limited, which all of his best movies do (see: the Matrix). He’s kind of a badass with a code, and the kind of guy that will stab you in the throat and stare you down as life leaves your eyes. The gunplay to cool house music works for the most part, and I even like the preposterous idea that somewhere, there is a hotel of deadly killers politely agreeing to keep their weapons holstered so as to cordially have a relaxing time. There are a lot of individual elements that I like here, but there’s just something intangible that kept me from falling in love with this.
John Wick (2014) ***
– Critic for Hire