There’s one indisputable fact on this planet; puppies are adorable. I’m pretty partial to pugs myself, but all kinds of adorable puppies grace this Earth and make the world a better to place to be. The awesomeness of puppies was proved with Tom Hardy in The Drop last month, and now Keanu Reeves gets to pile on more evidence to this fact with John Wick. Reeves play the titular character, a widower whose sole solace from the pain he feels from his wife’s passing is a puppy named Daisy his deceased wife gave him just before her passing.
It’s these scenes that set up Wick that do wonders for making the character compelling. I like that the movie allows it’s bad-ass action star to be so understandably vulnerable. The loss of his wife has left an actual toll on John and the film doesn’t shy away from moments that show him in tears over losing her. Seeing him experiencing such human emotions makes it easier to connect with him…and also makes it much more entertaining to see him let loose as the movie progresses.
I’d have loved to see this feature with someone who hadn’t even heard of it (instead, I saw it alone), just to see their shock once the movies action kicks in. Aside from a brief appearance by Willem Dafoe, there’s never even a hint of anything more than mundane normalcy in John Wicks life. And then some dudes break into his house, take his car and kill his dog. What these guys don’t realize is that John Wick used to be a professional assassin like no other. Suddenly, the quiet persona that made the scenes with Wick struggling over his wife’s death effortlessly manages to the part of Wick’s personality more driven by violence and revenge.
The violence in the film is violent, bloody and beautiful to witness thanks to cinematographer Johnathan Sela. The guy really makes the film look absolutely gorgeous in several shots, thanks to the way he has colors like red or blue make some of the movies environments truly pop. But when it comes to what really makes the action of the film entertaining, I’d say, even more so than the cinematography and excellent directing from David Leitch and Chad Stahelski, is the humor. The movie has a great sense of timing with many of its best jokes, such as an encounter with Wick and a police officer or Leguizamo explaining why he punched the son of a crime kingpin. Helping out the films many humorous moments is that Reeves has nice comic timing. He can land a humorous line almost as well as he handles the stories absorbing action scenes.
Adding to that sense of fun are the subtitles, which come in handy due to the foreign nature of many of the features antagonists. Several words, such as John Wicks nickname The Boogeyman, are written in a stylized font that adds personality to the film. Actually, this entire movie has tons of personality, and certainly seems to be relishing the fun of the proceedings as much as the audience. Their desire to keep the good times rolling does mean the finale, where John corners the father of the man who killed his dog, feels extraneous. But even that portion of the film is mostly entertaining, and it doesn’t distract from the rest of the extremely exhilarating movie. The cuteness of puppies is an indisputable fact for sure, but another fact that can’t be denied is that John Wick is a terrific feature that shows how much a good Keanu Reeves performance and personality (among several other positive traits) can bring to a film.