John Wick

“They’ll know you’re coming,” the Russian mob boss says to Keanu Reeves, who is planning an all out assault on the well-guarded safe house containing the mob boss’s son.

It won’t matter,” says John Wick, the slayer of boogie men, ne plus ultra assassin supreme, all ‘round badass who just wants to go straight, you guys, but they killed his puppy.

And indeed it doesn’t in John Wick, the story of John Wick, a guy who is really good at killing stuff. The reported body count is 84. It might be more. It’s hard to tell in all the excitement.

This is the sort of man-vs-mob movie that every action hero does occasionally and Liam Neeson does two or three times a ye—oh, look, Taken 3 is out. Anyway, I think this is a first for Keanu, who’s normally paired off against robots or unicorns or samurai or what-not. Well, I think so: I haven’t seen Keanu in a movie since The Lake House.

There’s not really much to say about a movie like this, except that if you like this sort of movie, you’ll probably like this instance of this sort of movie. The freshman effort by stuntman Chad Stahelski is stylish, fast-paced, with great fight choreography and a lot of fun touches. Screenwriter Derek Kolstad, whose last big feature had Steve Austin playing Tommy Wick (brothers?) creates an underworld mythology where everyone knows who John Wick is.

Everyone except the boss’s kid, played by “Game Of Thrones” Alfie Allen, that is, who starts the whole ball rolling. Wick almost immediately figures it out with the help of local chop-shop impresario, John Leguizamo. Mob boss (Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’s Michael Nyqvist, who’s an actor I’m coming to like more and more, the more I see him) tries to quell things in between trying to kill Wick.

Other supporting players include Willem Dafoe as a hitman, Adriane Palicki (who played Wonder Woman in the attempted reboot),  Iane McShane as a saloon keeper, and Bridget Moynahan as the disembodied voice of the late Mrs. Wick. I mean, really, she’s barely in the film but she gets pretty high billing.

I liked it. The Boy is hard to get to this kind of movie, because it’s a fine line between stupid and clever and all that, so I ended up sneaking in the last showing of this while he was otherwise occupied. (I think he would’ve liked it.)

But as someone who went to most of the Schwarzenegger movies in the ’80s and quite a few of the clones, I can say this was in the same ballpark, but really a lot better than most of those.

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