When your idea for a character is an assassin that assassins fear then your audience expects to see some pretty cool shit go down, especially when revenge is the order of the day - but alas no, 'John Wick' does not deliver the goods. Sure, Wick amasses a body count to rival Tarantino or even a Liam Neeson film, but it’s all courtesy of a gun for the most part, with only an occasional knife or car crash. John Wick doesn’t have the particular skills of Bryan Mills, the agility of Jackie Chan or finesse of James Bond - just a chip on his shoulder, a smashing three-piece suit and a reputation that, despite him having, no one really seems to be afraid of.
It should come as no surprise that first-time directors David Leitch and Chad Stahelski have chosen this to make their filmmaking debut. Together they have a very long and impressive résumé as stunt actors and coordinators - Stahelski himself even doubling for Reeves on several films including ‘The Matrix’. Their experience has produced a very tight, slick and stylised action film that shockingly and disappointingly falls flat on the action. Don’t despair, it’s there, it’s just a bit run of the mill.
‘John Wick’ is essentially a 101 minute gun fight... and that’s about it. There’s no epic story here, just good old-fashioned revenge that, quite frankly, comes about on pretty damn thin terms... they kill his dog. Okay, not dog, puppy, which as a filmmaker is your first and biggest mistake. You should NEVER kill the dog, especially in the first 15 minutes unless you actually want to lose 99% of your female audience, and any male audience that a) have a dog and/or b) have a soul.
I’ll give 'Wick' one pretty big kudos; the middle of the film features a hotel with a unique clientele of hit-men, where questions aren't asked and violence isn’t allowed. As a bonus, its owner is Ian McShane who just oozes cool, doesn’t he?
So if you want a lot, like, a whole lot, of (literal) bangs for your movie bucks, then ‘John Wick’ is for you - but if you want to walk away saying “Whoa”, then perhaps just wait for the DVD.