Revenge is a dish best served cold. It’s served ice cold, nasty, and fast food-friendly in John Wick, a B-thriller unburdened by originality or humor, in which a former contract killer and grieving widower known among the Russian mob as “The Boogey Man” (Keanu Reeves) avenges the killing of his beloved puppy by taking along the audience on a shooting, stabbing and committing mayhem on countless greasy thugs for a giddy, balls-out hour and change.
Co-directed from Derek Kolstad’s tight script by veteran stuntmen David Leitch and Chad Stahelski (Reeves’ Matrix stunt double), the movie’s got plenty going for it. It has at least six crazy-good action set-pieces in nightclubs and in pouring rain, an insane body count, an awesome 1969 Mustang, sleek wide-scope neon-saturated cinematography by Jonathan Sela, sharp editing by Elisabet Ronalds, and a welcome return by Reeves to his dead-eyed, zombie-fied action hero mode.
Because everything and everyone in the movie is heightened, stylized, and stripped bare of motivation, John Wick often feels like a shooter video game with a massive body count, only populated by such reliable actors as Willem Dafoe, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo and Bridget Moynahan. It’s a modest movie, yes, but it’s got style, know-how, hits the spot and knows enough to keep Reeves kicking ass constantly but saying little. Satisfaction pretty much guaranteed. ***