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JOHN WICK

SYNOPSIS: Retired hitman John Wick (Kenau Reeves) comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that took everything from him.

Review by Louise Keller:
A thrilling and relentless shoot-fest is countered by understatement in this cool, ultra violent, heavy-action revenge thriller in which Keanu Reeves shoots, kicks, punches and stabs his way through an army of Russian bad guys. Make no mistake, there are no good guys; it's just that some are badder than others. Stuntmen Chad Stahelski (former martial arts instructor, who worked with Reeves on The Matrix in 1999) and David Leitch are in their element, directing an extraordinarily choreographed wild tale by screenwriter Derek Kolstad. It's quite a trip. This is over-the-top action with violence up close and very personal; Reeves, in riveting form as John Wick, retired assassin who is 'just visiting', when asked if he is returning to the fold.

It all begins with the theft of a 1969 dark grey Mustang and the shooting of a puppy called Daisy. 'It's not what you did that concerns me; but to whom,' says Russian mob boss Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist, well cast), to his brattish son Iosef (Alfie Allen, suitably wimpy). If asked, Wick would probably say it's like riding a bicycle, because he immediately reverts into killer mode and the brutal killings begin. His motivation? Revenge. After having just lost everything: his wife and now the puppy she gave him.

The script is clever in that we slowly get to understand the code by which everyone lives. There are rules and protocols including special waste disposal teams who arrive on call, to efficiently remove bodies and all signs of carnage - for the price of a gold coin. Everyone knows John - the running gag is that policemen, concierges and others almost apologetically alert him to noise complaints, after a bloody massacre has taken place. Watch out for the night-club scene: Iosef drinks champagne in the bathhouse while John shoots his way through the strobe-lit dance floor. I love the way everyone talks in riddles - the cool understatement of the 24/7 concierge who concedes that no laundry is that good, in response to the question John poses, regarding his bloodied clothes. When more and more bodies are removed, the concierge is quick to apologise for the uninvited guests.

Once the narrative gets underway, there is a sure direction in which events proceed. With a $2million bounty on his head, the scene is set. Willem DaFoe's hit man is on the case as is Perkins (Adrianne Palicki), a lethal babe clad in tight black leather. John's killing spree is underway, his first target being Iosef. The others follow with tantalizing foreplay and acrobatic execution. Inevitably, the final confrontation is reserved for John and Viggo - and it's definitely worth the wait. After the incessant pounding of bullets, it seems apt that guns are tossed aside as the two men face each other with nothing but their hatred in the teaming rain.

Better than The Equalizer, John Wick is unadulterated visceral, deadly pleasure. For the boys and the girls who like boys.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

JOHN WICK 2

JOHN WICK (MA15+)
(US, 2014)

CAST: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Willem Dafoe, Dean Winters, Adrianne Palicki, Omer Barnea, Toby Leonard Moore, Daniel Bernhardt, Bridget Moynahan, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane,

PRODUCER: Basil Iwanyk, David Leitch, Eva Longoria, Chad Stahelski

DIRECTOR: David Leitch, Chad Stahelski

SCRIPT: Derek Kolstad

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jonathan Sela

EDITOR: Elisabet Ronaldsdottir

MUSIC: Tyler Bates, Joel J. Richards

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Dan Leigh

RUNNING TIME: 101 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 27, 2014







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