Keanu Reeves' role in John Wick has shown him one thing: if you're good at doing something, you keep doing it.
According to SF Gate, Reeves' performance as the titular character in John Wick reminds us of Reeves' performances in Constantine and The Matrix; his fluid effortlessness is a sight to behold as he kicks in a bad guys' face.
Director Chad Stahelski and producer David Leitch are longtime stuntpersons, and in their debut at the helm, they place the outstanding action dead center (fight coordination credited to Jonathan Eusebio, who worked on The Wolverine and Haywire), with plenty of sympathy pain-inducing cringes.
Reeves is able to combine his responsibilities as an action hero effortlessly with his acting ability. Reeves proves effective during his fight scenes and his emotive scenes; though there are just a few emotive scenes, they are well-timed and quite good.
There are performers besides Reeves (someone has to play the pre-dead bodies, after all), and the supporting cast is a good one. Michael Nyqvist (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) is the Russian godfather, Adrianne Palicki proves that not all assassins are nice, and Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy on Game of Thrones) plays the goon thug you can't wait to see die with aplomb.
The New York Times reports that John Wick is going through bad times without the assistance of his former employers. John Wick, a retired assassin, has just lost his wife to a longtime illness. His former employers, Russian crime bosses, want him to come back, but John Wick refuses. Wick has an altercation at a gas station with one former boss (it doesn't go well for the former boss). John Wick's former bosses finally cross the line when they break into John Wick's plush house and kill his dog. That sends John Wick over the line.
Those in charge of the film aren't remaking the wheel, but with this genre of film, they're making the wheel run better. Chad Stahelski (a seasoned stunt man who worked with Reeves on Constantine and two of the Matrix films, directing for the first time), wisely highlights their strong suits: Willem Dafoe as John's shady teacher; John Leguizamo as a chop-shop owner (adding an air of subtlety to a scene all to brief); a formidable Ian McShane, parked in a gleaming bad-guy hotel ; and the marvelous Michael Nyqvist, who plays the mob boss with an air of dignity previously missing from the original script.
John Wick is rated R for language and violence.
[Image courtesy of The Bay Net]