Director Chad Stahelski and writer Derek Kolstad made it abundantly clear to star Keanu Reeves what kind of action movie “John Wick” should be. This was not a philosophical puzzle like “The Matrix” or a thrilling cat-and-mouse adventure like “Speed.” It was just fun, stupid entertainment that was fully aware of its own ridiculousness.
These unabashedly silly popcorn flicks can serve as fun antidotes to movies dripping in self-seriousness or an inflated sense of importance. And, on paper, the seemingly washed-up Reeves makes for the perfect casting choice. His presence also lends the film a meta narrative to accompany its actual one. Reeves’ John Wick reawakens from retirement to unleash a can of whoop-ass on some people who did him wrong, just as it appears the actor himself wants to prove some value past his supposed expiration date.
While Reeves enables “John Wick” to reach its goal of being a campy, kitschy action film, he never does anything to help the movie differentiate itself. If someone is in the mood for what the kind of adrenaline rush it hopes to offer, nothing stands out about this particular film. Many other movies do it better (just in 2014, “Lucy” easily outdid it – and is rare for actually caring about women).
The only real highlight of “John Wick” is watching a B-list “The Expendables” form among the supporting cast. Stahelski must have hired one great casting director if they could get all these notable character actors in one film. Most just have one random scene, but when Willem Dafoe, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane, and Michael Nyqvist (from the Swedish “Dragon Tattoo” and “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol“) all show up, it is only natural to wonder who will pop up from behind the next door. C+ /