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John Wick
U.S.A./Canada/China 2014

Opening 29 Jan 2015

Directed by: Chad Stahelski
Writing credits: Derek Kolstad
Principal actors: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Willem Dafoe, Dean Winters

Once notorious for taking care of other people’s problems, John quit the business. He knows more happiness than “I rightfully deserved”, until his wife dies followed by an encounter with Marcus (Willem Dafoe). When three Russian boneheads (Alfie Allen, Omer Barnea, Toby Leonard Moore) make the mistake of behaving badly, John’s taste for revenge shortens his retirement. Once again, he involves himself with Viggo (Michael Nyqvist), i.e. the mob, Winston (Ian McShane), and others. Thing is, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) knows and plays by the rules, so many shady characters think well of him.

The abundance of riveting noiresque violence is so fluid, audiences hold their collective breath rather than close their eyes. Derek Kolstad’s tight script has a straightforward, antihero premise grounded in plausibility with fleshed out characters that also generates laughter with well-placed quips. Brilliantly executed action scenes, utilizing master frames, are built on influences Chad Stahelski and David Leitch respect: Japan for its martial arts films and animation, and Hong Kong for choreographed fight scenes using gun fu techniques. This is their first working reunion with Reeve's since The Matrix trilogy. The actors are in top-notch form. Whether shooting tranquil or turbulent scenes, Jonathan Sela’s camerawork flows facilitating Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir’s editing. Steering the film’s acceleration is excellently placed original music from Tyler Bates’ with music composed by Joel J. Richard. The resulting adrenalin high leaves us gasping, yet ready for another sit-through. Even children know better than to mess with the bogeyman. (Marinell Haegelin)

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