Did you ever find yourself, while watching The Matrix, wishing it had less plot and more violence? If so, John Wick is your film. Keanu Reeves stars in what’s essentially a superhero flick with the hero wearing suits rather than Spandex, taking absurd amounts of punishment yet still dispatching baddies who are half his age.
First-time directors David Leitch and Chad Stahelski show what happens when you turn over the keys to an entire film to a couple of veteran stunt coordinators: a superabundance of tightly choreographed, balletic violence strung together by a plot that collapses into a single sentence (“John Wick kills everyone who pisses him off,” in case you’re wondering). Reeves finally finds a character who benefits from his inability to display an expression other than a grimace; Michael Nyqvist (the Swedish Dragon Tattoo series) is fun to watch as the requisite Russian gangster-villain.
Everything on the screen is sleek, shiny, hard and pretty to look at; cinematographer Jonathan Sela has done the night-in-the-city thing before (Max Payne) and does it well here. Reeves is fine as the unstoppable killing machine, shredding an endless number of black suits while slaughtering the entire Russian population of New York City. If any of this sounds good to you, then leave your brain at home (you won’t need it) and enjoy the tasty, empty calories.