Film review: John Wick (15, 101 mins)

John Wick: Keanu Reeves as John Wick
John Wick: Keanu Reeves as John Wick
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Wick lights Keanu’s fuse

The death of a cherished pet propels a retired hitman to the brink of murderous insanity in Chad Stahelski’s blood-soaked action thriller.

Laced with macabre humour and punctuated by balletic fight sequences, John Wick embraces comedy and tragedy as its eponymous hero exacts eye-watering revenge for the slaying of a beloved beagle.

Keanu Reeves delivers one of his most compelling performances since The Matrix Trilogy in the title role, not that the script asks a great deal of him.

The actor’s restricted repertoire of facial expressions fits with his assassin’s grit, and Reeves is well-equipped for the physical demands of breathless hand-to-hand combat and running gun battles.

A shootout in a club is particularly thrilling and writer Kolstad repeatedly stokes the myth of his protagonist, like when one crime syndicate boss whispers, “I once saw him kill three men in a bar with a pencil”.

John Wick knows its strengths and plays to them with wry humour, including an eye-catching turn from Lance Reddick as the Continental hotel’s obliging concierge, who doesn’t bat an eye at blood spatter on his clientele.

Director Stahelski, sustains dramatic momentum well and builds the wanton slaughter to a suitable grand resolution.

Action/Thriller/Romance

Star rating: 6/10