"John Wick" Review

Growing up I always loved watching movies where the good guy unleashed rounds of ammo and hit every target while the bad guys aim was never true. “John Wick” is that film for this generation. While there are so many implausible moments, it’s a good ol’ fashion shoot ‘em up! 

John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is an ex-hitman who has just buried his wife. An unexpected knock at the door brings a glimmer of hope from his dead wife in the form of a cute puppy. As Wick tries to move forward (the very next day) he has a random encounter with Iosef (Alfie Allen) the son of a Russian mob boss Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist). After refusing to sell his car to Iosef, Wick gets a visit from him and his crew. Poor Iosef decides to kill Wick’s puppy and steal his car during the home invasion. Bad move.

From then on, Wick is on a one man mission to kill Iosef. As he steps back into his old killing shoes we’re introduced to a world of hitmen and women who are all as principled as he is. Wick is a professional finisher dealing out a shot to the head to ensure his victim’s death after quick shots to the chest. Screenwriter Derek Kolstad does an excellent job infusing comedy throughout the film. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, but instead relishes in the fact that Wick is “The Boogeyman” and everyone knows it. Each henchman is just a speed bump on the road to Iosef. 

The movie is an exercise in the deadly combination of atmosphere, pacing, and score. Keanu isn’t the greatest actor, but the script doesn’t call for him to say much...which is a positive. So every word spoken creates a tense atmosphere and a desire to see what’s going to happen next. Visually the color palette cinematographer Jonathan Sela uses adds to the atmosphere of “John Wick”. Whether it’s the color drenched club scenes, or desaturated scenes in Wick’s home life...color is another character. The pacing and score create the perfect mood for the entire film.

It’s no doubt that this film is Keanu’s vehicle back into being taken seriously as an action star. In the same ring as Denzel’s “The Equalizer”, this film proves that men of a certain age can dish out bullets and a box office hit. 

Rating: B-

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Kevin Sampson

The fact that Kevin Sampson is not just a film critic, but a writer, producer, and director as well makes his understanding of cinema even better. Coming from a theoretical and hands on approach, he understands both sides of the struggle of viewing and creating great works. After receiving an MFA in Film & Electronic Media from American University in Washington, D.C in 2011, Kevin took his love for film to the next level by creating and producing Picture Lock, an entertainment website, podcast, and hour long film review TV show that runs on Arlington Independent Media’s public access station in Arlington, VA. The show covers new releases, classic films, and interviews with local filmmakers in the DMV area. He is also a member of the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association and African American Film Critics Association. He is currently looking forward to filming his first feature film in the near future. He believes that film is one of the most powerful art forms in the world, and he hopes that he can use the craft to inspire others and make a difference in it.