Actors: Keanu Reeves, Willem Dafoe, Dean Winters, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen
Format: Blu-ray, Widescreen
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Number of discs: 1
Rated: R (Restricted)
Release Date: February 3, 2015
Run Time: 101 minutes
The internet has been buzzing about the news of a John Wick sequel in the works this past week, no doubt coinciding with the home entertainment release of the sleeper action hit. While the film itself is far from perfect, it is a role perfectly suited to give star Keanu Reeves a bit of a comeback and highlight the directorial debut of his former stunt double, Chad Stahelski (along with fellow Matrix stuntman David Leitch, credited as producer). Even with a weak script in need of serious structural work, the combination of Keanu’s cold performance and impressively directed action sequences makes all forgivable. This may not be the smartest revenge film, but it is the most fun to come from the sub-genre in some time.
Centering on its title character, John Wick is the story of a hit man forced out of retirement by mere coincidence. Although Wick (Reeves) was once the mob’s deadliest assassin, he gave up the lifestyle for a woman, only to lose her as well. Days after the death of his wife, Wick is disturbed from his grief by a group of unwelcome thugs led by Iosef Tarasov (Alfie Allen). This entitled criminal is the son of crime boss Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist), who coincidentally happens to be Wick’s former employer. Aware that the only way to save his son is by killing Wick, Tarasov places a massive citywide contract out on the former hit man. The rest of the film is riddled with bullet holes as Wick travels through an ultra-stylized underbelly of
in search of vengeance. New York City
The story is simple. This seems to be done intentionally, however, in order to keep the focus on the main goal of the film; coolness. Much of this is borrowed from cinema rather than reality, which gives the film a fabricated feeling, like a graphic novel come to life. Everything is perfectly designed to make the film appear cool, even at the expense of logic or realism. This is apparent in the clothing, the cars, the weapons, the settings and the effortless way that John Wick drops over 75 villains in less than 100 minutes. The only time that this effect is diminished is with too much dialogue, much of which is better suited for the poorly made straight-to-video action films that scribe Derek Kolstad has done in the past. It is the structure which suffers the worst blow, however. The momentum of a revenge film is quickly deflated if the act of vengeance is carried out before the third act. This should be obvious, and is likely why Kolstad has not yet been attached as the sequel’s screenwriter.
The Blu-ray combo pack comes with DVD and Digital HD copy of the film. The special features include an audio commentary track and a handful of featurettes, most of which highlight the important stylistic choices made by the filmmakers. These are mostly superficial, with just enough behind-the-scenes facts to keep it from just feeling like extended ads for the film.
Entertainment Value: 9/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 7/10
Historical Significance: 7/10
Special Features: 7/10