|'The Action occasionally looks good, but when our hero is executing yet another anonymous Russian footsolider by punching him and then shooting him in the head, it's difficult to justify the giving over of your full attention.'|
The excitement around John Wick proves mainly to be justifiable only on odd occasions when star Keanu Reeves is given someone solid to interact with. Notable cameoing highlights include Willem Dafoe, as a fellow assassin and Ian McShane as the owner of a shady hotel where dodgy dealers go for some down time. It's like the Costa Del Sol, but all located in a single building in New York; a Centre Parcs for people who like guns.
John Wick (Reeves) ends up there having come out of retirement to off some Russian gangsters, shown during the opening scenes to be making A Big Mistake when they kill the dog his dead wife left him and steal his car. Motivation thus established through Hollywood's favourite use of an animal archetype, Wick sets off on an aesthetically pleasing tour that involves a neon-lit club, John Leguizamo's chop shop, an orthodox church that's actually a front and various industrial docklands and yards.
If that all sounds too familiar then it's unlikely that they'll be much here to hold your interest (though directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch do wisely only keep us a touch over one-hundred minutes). The ripe script includes plentiful scenery-chewing from villain Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen in dire danger of being typecast as someone who specialises in snivelling and Adrianne Palicki auditioning to replace Milla Jovovich and Olga Kurylenko as Hollywood's go-to female star of direct-to-VOD-esque Action-schlock.
It's not that there's little here to enjoy, it's just that what is here feels very tired and largely devoid of a reason to genuinely care about those present. The bad guys are Russian (again), Reeves Wick is monosyllabic until he needs to offer something pithy (again) and people like McShane and Dafoe are here to offer some worldly wisdom and give John Wick the veneer of quality (again). The Action occasionally looks good, but when our hero is executing yet another anonymous Russian footsolider by punching him and then shooting him in the head, it's difficult to justify the giving over of your full attention.
The finale, apparently worn out by what it has seen so far, gives up with a little bit of a tired whimper, given what we've seen previously, finally tired out by what is, largely, another tired tread through Hollywood cliches, which rarely looked great to begin with.