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Saturday, April 25, 2015

JOHN WICK (2014)

With backgrounds in stunt & 2nd unit direction, the wisp of a plot that runs Chad Stahelski & David Leitch’s debut pic comes as no surprise. What does surprise are all the big action set pieces (and the pic is nothing but action set pieces) that skimp on the clear logistics & spatial relationships that could have lifted them into building blocks of suspense & excitement rather than empty sound & fury. Even with only one good guy to keep track of! That’d be Keanu Reeves, the eponymous Mr. Wick, newly widowed former hit-man. Dissed by the spoiled scion of a Russian mob king, Wick reverts to deadly ways, and simple payback quickly escalates into one-man war. Willem Dafoe makes something out an underwritten mentor/wingman role, while busy actress Adrianne Palicki gives bad weight as a femme fatale. Certainly the thing looks stylish, with a droll edge to the violent doings and farfetched elements. (Though some hip graphic novel details curdle, like the lux Four-Star hotel for secret agents & assassins.) But the main point here is to see if Keanu Reeves, after a decade of career missteps, is still a commercially viable, Prada-worthy, ultra-cool action star. He is! He is! With a sequel already on the drawing board.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Coming in at a trim 20 mill, the film looks like it has more CGI than it probably does. Hopefully, the sequel won’t triple the budget and trip up via overkill.

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