The Flick Chicks

Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

John Wick | Keanu Reeves, Michael Nykvist, Alfie Allen, Bridget Moynahan, John Leguizamo, Willem Dafoe | Review

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Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for
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John Wick | Keanu Reeves, Michael Nykvist, Alfie Allen, Bridget Moynahan, John Leguizamo, Willem Dafoe | Review

The titular character is aptly named for he has a fuse that, when lit, leads to some of the most explosive violence to travel across cinema screens this year.  

John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is a bereaved husband, bidding farewell to his terminally ill wife (Bridget Moynahan) by consenting to “pull the plug” on her brain-dead body.  He receives a precious gift from her posthumously, in the form of a beagle puppy, meant to keep him from being lonely.

A chance encounter with Russian hoods at a gas station results in a break-in at the Wick house resulting in a few more tragedies for him to swallow.  It is discovered that Wick had a previous life as an assassin.  He doesn’t swallow; he spits.

Wick embarks on a campaign of revenge that makes his enemies literally quake with fear.  The one-man killing machine is ruthless, taking on scores of goons that work for Viggo (Michael Nykvist) the kingpin of a crime organization whose arrogant, loose canon son Iosef (Alfie Allen) started the whole conflict.

The ensuing violence is so pervasive, it seems ripped off the pages of a graphic novel.  Director Chad Stahelski (V for Vendetta) working from a script by Derek Kolstad (The Package) makes idiosyncratic use of slo-mo in some scenes to underscore Wick’s bulldozer bravado.  It works.

Stahelski serves up an intriguing anti-hero in Wick, who displays superhuman strength during his ordeal, combined with an inability to be shocked.  Although the film covers no new ground in regard to subject matter (we’ve been there and done all that before) it follows Wick’s unique exploits, shows us his world in a way that is surprising (to us, not the characters that inhabit it) and sometimes amusing.

Slick, with excellent editing and a pounding techno-rock soundtrack, John Wick delivers its over-the-top developments (as well as its underhanded ones) like shots fired from an Uzi: swift and seemingly painless until you realize you’ve been obliterated.  Still, you want more.

You’ve never seen Reeves like this before.  His appearance, mannerisms, and speech patterns all morphed into a persona that can (and does) effortlessly shoot countless adversaries in the face.  A drinking game built around just this one occurrence would render you incapacitated in no time.

Mostly, it’s a series of stylized, ultra-violent encounters served up without taking time to bleed; only the rapid-fire gunshots amid the pleasantries – and there are some, continue.  Everyone, it seems, knows John Wick and shares a history of assassination and mayhem.  It’s not murder, it’s business.

You understand.

With Willem Dafoe, John Leguizamo, and Adrianne Palicki.


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