Are you ready for another revenge thriller? In the last eight months alone we’ve seen A Walk Among Tombstones and Run All Night. The credits have only just rolled on Sean Penn’s The Gunman and the genre is bursting. If you’re wondering what more Hollywood can possibly add, John Wick probably isn’t for you. To its loss, this latest revenge thriller chooses to playfully tinker with the genre’s conventions instead of reinventing them.
John Wick puppy

Keanu Reeves brings a moody, verbally constipated hostility to Wick: an accomplishment given he’s essentially a retired assassin, mourning the death of his wife by watching their schmaltzy home videos on a loop. It’s the murder of his puppy (his wife’s parting gift) that sets in motion the film’s inevitable killing spree.

As a simple emotional hook it’s effective but John Wick’s problem ultimately lies in a flat story that dissolves into relentless execution. Starting out as a stunt co-ordinator, director Chad Stahelski has a flair for slick, pared down choreography that goes some way to masking John Wick’s inherent blandness but even this surface gloss feels familiar by the half way mark.
Keanu Reeves John Wick

Last year’s indie flick Blue Ruin reminded us that revenge thrillers needn’t resort to repetitive fight sequences that leave us exhausted from tedium. While John Wick gives us a quirky take on the logistics of large scale assassination (from clean-up operations to criminal hotels) it continues to bleed the genre dry. It’s a trend that seems set to continue: John Wick 2 has already been announced.

 

VERDICT: ★ ★ ★ 3/5

 

Certificate: 15
Running time: 101 minutes
UK Release date: 10 April 2015

Images: © 2014 – Summit Entertainment
 

Review first printed in Mansfield & Ashfield Chad

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