John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is not the Bogeyman, he is something much more terrifying than the Bogeyman - he is the man you send to kill the Bogeyman. So, when Iosef Tarasov (Alfie Allen) steals his car and kills his adorable little puppy his father, Viggo Tarasov (a brilliant Michael Nyqvist), realises that his son has screwed up. He sends of team of highly trained assassins to kill Wick but they fail in their attack and are easily killed by Wick's superior set of skills. Wick is now on a mission of personal vengeance.
The rest of the world has already seen John Wick, even the Australians, who get pretty much everything twenty years after everybody else, saw John Wick before those in the UK got a chance to legally see the film. John Wick was released in America in October 2014 and the film was finally released in the UK six months later (despite the initial January release date). What this meant was there was a DVD quality copy of the film on the internet whilst the film was still in the cinemas. When will studios and distributors clock that this sort of shit causes people to illegally download movies? Simultaneous releasing is the way to go or at least don't make the wait time half a bloody year.
Now despite the fact I ranted about waiting six months to see the film and having to endure hype and praise for John Wick on many international movie forums I concede that John Wick was worth waiting for and certainly worth forking out £9.99 at the cinema. The film's director, Chad Stahelski, is a former stunt coordinator (he also doubled for Keanu Reeves in The Matrix), and Chad's expert experience at directing and organising fight scenes shows here as John Wick is an exceptional example of perfect action movie making. Chad Stahelski stays away from incomprehensible shaky cam popularised by Paul Greeengrass and beaten to death by action movie directors like Oliver Megaton and instead creates a fluid and exciting blend of smooth, effortlessly cool cuts that allows you to tot up the kill count with glee.
The fact that these action sequences aren't cut at 100 cuts per second increases the tension making the film exiting and enthralling (the electro soundtrack, particularly during the nightclub scene, makes the action even more exhilarating). The tension is increased further because it's quite clear, despite his fine set of skills, the protagonist isn't untouchable. Much like the recent Raid movies the action sequences are brutally efficient, they are directed with flair and a visual style that makes the film even more immersive and gripping. Also, much like the Raid films, the sound effects are one of the film's strongest suits, each punch and bullet to the head reverberates around the cinema.
The central story itself isn't a deep and meaningful one, it's a simple story of revenge, but there are tiny, little additions that add up to create a cool underground society and what there is of a central story is quite moving. Keanu Reeves' performance is a heartfelt one as, having lost his wife, he is able to engage emotionally in the material (the scene where Wick cries whilst reading his wife's letter is particularly moving). The script itself is pretty straightforward but it is quite humorous with its dark comedy and awesome one liners.
Visually, the film is terrific, the cinematography is excellent and the exquisite neon visual style reminded me the of recent Nicolas Winding Refn genre movies (Drive, Only God Forgives). This highly entrancing visual style, coupled with the brilliant editing during the action sequences makes for a highly immersive visual experience.