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John Wick

Year: 2014
Production Co: 87Eleven
Director: David Leitch/Chad Stahelski
Writer: Derek Kolstad
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Aflie Allen, Michael Nyqvist, Adrianne Palicki, Willem Dafoe, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane, Bridget Moynaghan

As I write this, John Wick is getting rave reviews, and for the life of me I can't understand why. First, there are more holes in the plot than in the characters after the many close-quarter gun battles. Second, despite what a nice guy Keanu Reeves seems in real life and how striking he always looks on screen, he still couldn't beat a plank of wood in an acting competition after such a long career.

But mostly it's just that we've seen it all before, and the elements that have the potential to offer a point of difference don't stand out far enough.

The professional assassin who tried to leave it all behind him but gets pulled back into the game when it gets personal has been done so many times it could be a genre in itself, so directors David Leitch and Chad Stahelski (former stunt guys who worked with Keanu on The Matrix) wanted to build a hyper-stylised underground New York for John and his cohorts and enemies to live in.

Problem is they really haven't. Apart from some whimsical flourishes like the luxury hotel where all the assassins stay it's just another action movie, albeit with more balletic action that usual. Maybe that's what everybody likes about it, but I just couldn't get past the story we've seen endlessly.

John gets out of the life when his wife (Bridget Moynaghan) dies of an illness, and when she somehow sends him a present of a puppy (how she manages that from beyond the grave is never explained) along with a letter telling him to find life and love again, he finds a reason to come back from the brink.

But While filling up his prized car, John has a run-in with nasty thug Iosef (Alfie Allen) who offers to buy it. When he refuses to sell, Iosef and his goons follow John, break in to his beautiful house, trash the place, beat John up, kill the dog and steal the car, Keanu puts on his best scowl and shoots and fights his way through one nightclub and bathhouse after another for revenge. It puts him up against Iosef's father, Russian mob boss Viggo (Michael Nyqvist), and it becomes just another videogame battle to the boss level.

Reeves is a good action star and he has fighting and shooting down pat, giving John a style of attack all his own. It's just when he stops swinging guns or fists and opens his mouth you can't help but wait for him to say 'whoah... bodacious'.

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