By Darin Skaggs
Movie violence is something very difficult to do right. If it is treated merely for comedic effect it could come off morally wrong and if is used too serious the tone could be too hard to enjoy. David Leitch and Chad Stahelski’s John Wick uses its violence so well, balancing the cool and dark undertones in a well-constructed action film.
John Wick (Keanu Reeves) when we meet him is in a lonely place. His wife has just passed away from an illness, this being the woman that influenced him retire from the assassination business. After her death, she made an arrangement that a puppy would be given to John to help with the grief and loneliness to come. That all ends when crazy mobster Iosef Tarasov (Alfie Allen) comes to his home, beats him up, murders his dog and steals the car also given by his deceased wife. John then goes on a vengeful killing spree which includes the man also set for revenge and father of Iosef, Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist).
The film is an over exaggerated look at grief. What happens to John is terrible and he is on edge, but when people take the only items that his wife left him, he is emotional pushed off the cliff. He then goes on big shoot outs and fist to fist combat. This symbolizes the sadness, on edge feeling after losing someone close to you. Anything that would remind you that the person is gone could make you angry, this being worst case scenario for the other party.
The grief aspects are there, but oh so subtly. What this film succeeds at less subtly is the cool action. Reeves goes from bar to bar, scene to scene getting the upper hand from several groups of people with only a pistol and his bare hands. They handle the fights very well; none of that hideous shaky cam or too quick editing that makes it impossible to know what is going on. Every detail is there, you will know just what is happening to all of John’s victims while being pretty graphic is still fantastic to watch. You really will get into the action even though you know, due to his skill, John will be just fine.
John Wick is a ton of fun, very violent, but in just the right way which frankly is hard to pull off. Reeves does well, one of the few roles he was born to play, he pulls off a melancholy, determined, quiet man who knows his stuff. This might be the best action film of the years and will top best of list of the decade.