Today: May 26, 2024

John Wick

Time was when the One-Man-Army subgenre of action movies was the cornerstone of the likes of Arnie, Sly and Bruce. You know, go in to a fight out-manned and out-gunned and yet still come out grinning the other side with a wise quip normally referencing the item used to dispatch the final bad guy. Shane Black was king of the genre. And then Jason Bourne came along and made it all very serious and since then there’s been outings with The Stath, in the shape of The Transporter, geriatric man Liam Neeson in Taken and numerous other contenders. Keanu Reeves of course is no stranger to dispatching hordes of villains but in John Wick he makes his dark and brooding ways of The Matrix look quite upbeat by comparison.

With his wife having just left this mortal coil John Wick (Reeves) receives a parting gift from her in the form of a cute little puppy. But no sooner has he bonded with the mutt it is killed by spoilt gangster brat Iosef (Alfie Allen). The problem is that Wick is no ordinary Joe, he’s a retired hitman, the guy you send to “kill the Boogeyman” and he’s out for revenge. It doesn’t bode well for Iosef until dear old daddy Viggo (Michael Nyqvist) steps in and puts a contract out on Wick’s head setting in motion a whole pattern of revenge and mayhem.

Directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch are both former stunt coordinators and so certainly know their way round an action sequence. It’s here that Wick is at it’s best, incorporating elements of Gun-Fu, brutal smack-down punches and occasional vehicular warfare that would make the Fast & Furious team happy. As such John Wick works as a series of well executed, if slightly repetitive fights. The issue is it never really gels together with anything resembling a story.

Somewhere in there it at times feels as if Derek Kolstad’s script is doing everything with a wry wink and a nod to the over-the-top nature of it all, an almost pastiche in the vein of Adam Wingard’s dark comedy musing of You’re Next and The Guest. But Stahelski and Leitch don’t seem to be in on the joke enough to ram it home. As such Wick’s motives for going all Charlie Bronson on all and sundry feel comical without the laughs. There’s almost too much style going on, as if the filmmakers had watched a little too much Michael Mann or Nicolas Winding Refn and tried to inject that neon saturated palette into a film that needed a little more sheen to it.

Allen is typically sneering, the kind of character you desperately hope gets his comeuppance, and when he does it’s not nearly satisfying enough. Nyqvist is a little too eccentric to ever really menace as a big baddie and Friday Night Lights’ Adrianne Palicki gives a solid turn as a femme fatale like assassin but is only ever a side character at best. As such it’s left to Keanu to hold Wick together and he just about manages it, his almost monosyllabic delivery making his occasional outbursts of rage all the more satisfying.

When the action is going John Wick burns bright but it’s never enough to grab your full attention, as such you just hope John Wick 2 burns at both ends with action and a more comical tone.

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email:

Previous Story

Jared Leto Offers Up The Killing Joker

Next Story

Lost River

Latest from Blog


Memory (2023)

Memory is an exquisite American drama in the tender embrace of Michel Franco’s cinematic prowess.

The Valiant Ones

The Valiant Ones was King Hu’s last, great masterpiece. Indeed it’s arguably his last true wuxia film — but what a magnificent beast it is. Directed by the celebrated master of the

Enter the Clones of Bruce Unboxing

There have been so many books, documentaries, and even biopics of the immeasurably pioneering martial arts icon Bruce Lee. His life and work have been studied intensely, and his influence remains felt

BackBeat Unboxing

This month saw underrated Beatle-biopic BackBeat make its Blu-ray debut from Fabulous Films, surely delighting the band’s collectors and completists. Telling the story of the Beatles’ first bassist – the so-called ‘lost

D-Day 80th Anniversary

In just a couple of weeks, the world will observe the 80th anniversary of D-Day, the unprecedented allied invasion of the beaches of Normandy on 6th June 1944. It’s impossible to imagine

Lawmen: Bass Reeves Unboxing

Originally envisioned as yet another Yellowstone spin-off, Lawmen: Bass Reeves is one of the best television westerns in years. Fronted by a stellar performance from David Oyelowo alongside screen legends Donald Sutherland
Go toTop

Don't Miss


In a recent interview with The New York Times, Oppenheimer

Radiance Films Blu-ray Unboxings

There’s a new boutique label in town. Radiance Films promise