Keanu Reeves is back with John Wick, a new thriller in which the titular badass comes back for one last revenge mission against the mob after the puppy his late wife gave him posthumously is brutally killed.
Yes, I said puppy.
Not his daughter, not his wife: a puppy.
It's almost like the movie itself isn't taking its own genre seriously. And that's what's so refreshing about John Wick: it wants to have its cake and eat it too and... it kinda does just that. Effortlessly, no less! While the puppy thing and the fact that Wick is such a myth that everyone is terrified at the very mention of his name are obviously tongue-in-cheek pokes at the revenge thriller clichés, the film never flat out makes fun of its main character or turns into a spoof. In fact, you do get attached to that darn puppy and its relationship with Wick so when it does check out early, you do feel for the guy. It helps that Reeves gives a genuine performance and nails the more emotional moments.
The film is action-packed with John Wick "gun-fuing" his way through torrents of baddies with a mix of judo, jiu-jitsu and those gun-katas we saw (and sniggered at) in Equilibrium. Wick gets to shoot and beat people up in bath houses, in fancy hotel rooms, in neon-lit night clubs, in his own house, and all because he was not allowed to grieve for his wife's death in the way that he wanted. It's all pretty over-the-top and ridiculous but self-aware enough that John Wick skilfully avoids being too dumb to take. Instead, by embracing the predictable nature of that type of thriller and having fun with it, we too have fun with it. Willem Dafoe co-stars as Wick's old sniper pal and the likes of John Leguizamo and Ian McShane also pop up, albeit briefly, along with a handful of recognisable TV faces who all feel well cast.
John Wick is the kind of throwback homage we wanted The Expendables to be, the kind of old-fashioned, silly yet kickass action flick Taken brought back to the A list somehow. It's a very worthy comeback for its lead and a really entertaining, well put together flick with loads of laughs, cool, gunshots and even some heart.
Also: a puppy.