John Wick - Dog Bites Man. Man Bites Dog. Man Shoots Russians in Face.

Keanu Reeves plays John Wick, an ex-hitman who fell in love with beautiful Bridget Moynahan, who is on screen for all of 3 minutes before dying of a terminal disease. To ensure John doesn't grieve alone, she arranges for a dog to be delivered to him after her death. Alfie Allen, the guy from Game of Thrones who diddles his sister on horseback, breaks into John's house and beats him up and steals his sweet ass muscle car. And just for good measure, he kill his puppy. It’s essentially every country song ever: John loses his wife, his dog, and his truck, but at least he still has his gee-tar and an ice cold Bud Light. It turns out Alfie is the son of a mob boss - John's former employer. Long story short, a whole lot of people get shot in the face. What I’m trying to tell you is there is a direct parallel between this movie and the scene in Dragon Ball Z where those guys kill Majin Buu’s dog.

I'm going to get into how deliciously violent the movie is, but I want to start with the plot. Can I just say it's my absolute favorite revenge plot line ever? John has a wife. She's cute - she's dead. Tears. Funeral. How did John meet her? Does she know about his past? Is she from his past? Was she a target of his? Doesn't matter, she's a corpse, ding dong, puppygram. And holy shit is that dog cute.
Look at those big floppy ears Jesus Christ I wanna hug it forever
A couple of Russian/Whatever fake Eastern European accent they're doing want his sweet ass car, John won't sell it to them, they break into his house, kill his puppy, take his car. The set up to the movie is done in ten, maybe fifteen minutes. It's a testament to the movie itself that it doesn't feel like the mandatory set up. I know it's a revenge movie and I know for the next couple of scenes I'm going to see why Mr. Wick needs to get back into the life he left behind or whatever nonsense, but it doesn't feel perfunctory.

Let me re-emphasize the timing of the burglary. The break-in happens the day after the wife's funeral. The day. After. Her corpse hasn’t even reached rigor mortis and these thugs are about to send Poochie back to his home planet. These fools murder his dog, knock him out, and then put the dog's corpse in front of him. The first thing he sees when he regains consciousness is his dead puppy, the last thing his wife left for him. There are no words in this or any language to truly get across just how badly they have fucked up. 

Someone has to avenge that puppy, and revenge is a dish best served with gratuitous action scenes. That's where Keanu comes in. He speaks a very sensual language, the language of close range headshots. I can't say I've revisited Keanu's movie catalogue in a while, but this might be his best acting performance ever. Every fiber of my being wants to say "besides Bill and Ted," but I'm being serious here. This movie doesn't ask for a ton of dramatic acting, but when it's time for him to exemplify someone who had the last semblance of hope for a new life taken away from him by a Ruski with a baseball bat, he sells it. When he woke up and saw that dead dog, I was on his side. I wanted to see him blow everyone's stupid face off. Then I realized I was cheering for a murderer. Not like a generic action hero who has to wipe out a bunch of [insert foreign country we’re currently invading here], but a mafia hitman who brutally murdered people just for the cold hard cash. His entire life has been taking the lives of innocent people and I am 100% on his side. This further proves my thesis that puppies are more valuable than human beings.

The villains are great, too. Game of Thrones kid (I'm sure his character has a name but who cares, I could type Vladimir Rushkevlov and it wouldn't make a difference) is the only person in this movie's universe that doesn't know that John Wick is the one person to not be fucked with. Even John Leguizamo knows better. 

The kid's dad is Michael Nyqvist, who got a lot of recognition for starring in the Swedish Millennium Series (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and parlayed that notoriety into playing Evil Europeans in big dumb Hollywood movies. When he finds out what his kid did, he knows without a doubt it’s only a matter of time before his first and only child is deader than dead can be, so he puts a bounty on Wick’s head. It wouldn’t be much of a movie if it was just Keanu Reeves pistol whipping a skinny mid-20s chav for 90 minutes. 

So you're looking at the cast going “hey these guys are pretty good, even Leguizamo isn’t doing so bad” and BOOM, you get surprise Willem Dafoe out of nowhere. Willem Dafoe is my favorite little "hey, thanks movie" kind of actor. He almost never gets leading roles, but you know whenever he pops in he's going to be great and 9 times out of 10 die in spectacular fashion, so you've got that to look forward to. 
God I hope I look this good at 50. Shit I'm half of that and don't look that good.
I teased the action in the beginning and holy shit do I love it. It's not overly bloody, but I can't remember the last time a big budget, wide release Hollywood action film was this violent. I keep joking about Keanu shooting dudes in the face, but the reality is he shoots a ton of people in the fucking face. It's really that simple. What America needs is more gun-fu in movies, and this has it in spades. Wick combines judoka with ruthless accuracy for some of the most efficiently brutal kills I've seen in a while. If those words mean nothing to you, let me put it in simpler terms. If Wick is in close range and in danger of being shot, he grabs them, throws them around like a ragdoll, then shoots them in the face once they're disarmed. It’s as much fun to watch as it sounds and is filmed beautifully.

This was filmed by Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, two names I’m sure mean nothing to you. They’re not directors - they’re stunt coordinators. They’ve worked with Reeves in the past on The Matrix films so they know what looks good - and it’s not quick cuts. The action scenes are full of long takes because the actors know what they're doing, they're not being edited around. The nightclub scene is one of my favorite action scenes of the year, and I say that after recently rewatching The Raid 2. 

I mentioned how efficiently Wick murders everyone. That's the one of the only drawbacks to the movie for me. The main villain is an old Russian mob boss, and I'm not terribly concerned about him beating John one on one. As for the endless waves of people sent after him? Well, you can see the body count on IMDb Trivia.  

The biggest gripe I had was the very end of the movie, but this is one of those films where I'm having so much fun watching that I just let it go. It’s not the ending I would have chosen and it seems tacked on and a bit out of place, but who cares, it’s been a blast the entire time. 
The more I watch it the more I want to see the movie again
I love this movie. It's a real throwback to action movies of the 80s and not in the way the Expendables claims to be. It embraces its cliches without trying to be tongue in cheek or self-aware. There's the mandatory scene where someone asks about John Wick and a character is forced to give the JUST HOW BAD ASS IS HE? ONE TIME HE KILLED A FUCKLOAD OF PEOPLE speech. They call him the boogeyman for God's sake. This film knows exactly what it's doing and does it fantastically. 

It's a lean 100 minutes without a single wasted scene. It accentuates all of Keanu's best acting traits and builds a world of underground criminals, mobs, and hitmen around him. I wrote this a couple of days after seeing it in theaters and the more I reminsiced about it the more excited I was to see it again. The second this comes out on blu ray I'm buying it and making everyone I know watch it. I will judge all of them as people in accordance to their reactions. It’s cool if you don’t enjoy the movie, but you’ll have to not enjoy it somewhere other than my apartment because we can no longer be friends.

Strong Recommend