John Wick (2014) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes


John Wick (2014) Directed by Chad Stahelski. With Keanu Reeves, Alfie Allen, Mikael Nyqvist, Willem Dafoe, Dean Winters and Ian McShane. 

Revenge/action has seemed a crowded genre in recent years. We’ve taken all we can of Liam Neeson in a black leather jacket, doling out his own particular brand of justice to a line up of cardboard baddies. It is then, all the more surprising that first-time director Chad Stahelski’s John Wick, is as fresh and exciting as it is.

Keanu Reeves plays the title role – a retired hit-man reactivated through personal tragedy. Indeed, had it not been used so famously before, the tagline “This time it’s personal” would perfectly befit. That’s the real trick of the movie, though, it comes at you like every other revenge flick you’ve ever seen, but in the hands of a talented director, it has a vital energy and a visual snap, that, coupled with an urgent momentum and well-balanced pacing, sets it aside from a crop of similarly-themed and forgettably formulaic fodder.

Stahelski, with the help of cinematographer, Jonathan Sela (would you believe this guy photographed A Good Day to Die Hard!?) works in striking shot compositions and lighting, alongside balletic action set-pieces, which combine a sense of grace and brutality amid a neo-noirish feel adorned with night-time cityscapes and trendy nightclubs.

Keanu Reeves is an actor often maligned for a lack of range, but outside of Bill & Ted, he’s never more perfectly cast than here. In the career of any actor, timing can be a key factor between success and the void. Reeves, a product of the 1980’s, achieved A-list status by the 1990’s, which climaxed with his career-defining role as Neo in The Matrix. Since then, for over 15-years, he’s struggled. John Wick is one of those perfect life-art mirror situations, with symbiosis between actor and character as Reeves comes out fighting as underdog, birthing an enigmatic character who kicks ass with a unique brand of gun-fu.

It’s hard to pick fault with a film that works as effectively as John Wick. It embraces cliche, but balances it well enough to sit snugly in a gap between the irreverent and the solemn. A rip-roaring success for all involved, and hopefully the beginning chapter of a fun action series. 4/5

About garethrhodes

Full-time lover of all things creative.
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12 Responses to John Wick (2014) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

  1. Natasha says:

    Great review 🙂 This film looked really beautiful and was very entertaining.

  2. Dude the cleaner says:

    the beginning chapter of an exciting action series. well said I hope so to? Nice review.

    • garethrhodes says:

      Thank you, my friend. I hope this can be steered intelligently and meaningfully, there’s good potential for a few good films, as so little is told of John’s life. The mystery is good for business.

  3. Zoë says:

    WHOOP! Thrilled to see you enjoyed it so much. I absolutely adored this movie, and I have seen it countless times since my initial viewing.

    • garethrhodes says:

      Great to find another fan! 🙂 This one took me by surprise, and I’ll admit to having low expectations, but from the start, I sensed there was some real style and intelligence driving it forward. I completely understand the repeat viewings.

  4. brettmkane says:

    I went into this film not expecting much at all, and left feeling completely caught off guard. It’s so gleefully aware of its cliches and embraces them, practically making them feel fresh and inspired. And its sleek and stylish direction is entirely infectious. Great review, Gareth!

  5. Chris Evans says:

    Awesome review Gareth, been meaning to check this out for a while and even more so since a sequel was announced.

    • garethrhodes says:

      Thank you my friend, it’s one that I left on the hanger for a while, but it’s a real must see for action aficionados. Great to hear there’s a sequel coming.

  6. Mattamatix says:

    Gun Fu – Christian Bale – Equilibrium.

    That said it doesn’t hold anything on John Wick. Managed to see this somewhere before it was actually released and bored all my friends by telling them how they absolutely had to see this film!

    • garethrhodes says:

      Haha! Yes, I’ve bored a few people over this one too. It’s one of those movies that isn’t easily sold by words, but once you get your butt sat and your eyes on the screen, it grabs hold with its inventive action and stylish look.

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