In the positively reviewed revenge movie John Wick, Keanu Reeves has officially returned as a movie star. Throughout a puzzling career that’s seen starring roles in polar opposite franchises, Bill & Ted and The Matrix, Reeves has been a bit of a wild card on the screen. He’s not Brad Pitt level popular, but he’s also not Nicolas Cage level unpredictable. He’s in that interesting middle ground of known but not universally recognized; famous, but not beloved by a band of loyal followers.
Regardless of how you feel about Reeves as an actor, see John Wick. It’s like Taken, but better. Far better. The premise has been seen on-screen numerous times. Reeves is a highly skilled hitman who escaped his violent lifestyle, only to be forced back into the thrust of chaos due to a series of unfortunate incidents. As he’s forced to venture back into a world of merciless violence and cutthroat criminals, the movie starts to transcend its played out plot.
With the assistance of Michael Nyqvist and Willem Dafoe in supporting roles, the movie takes on an addicting vibe that dives into an underbelly environment riddled with assassins, gangsters, and fancy suits. Reeves is one of these assassins, well, former assassins, in a sharply tailored suit, and he commands the role much like Denzel Washington did in The Equalizer, or like Liam Neeson did in the earlier mentioned Taken. Behind Reeves is a perfectly selected soundtrack and seamlessly sharp scene transitions, making John Wick both a welcoming return to Reeves as a star and a wondrous display of production quality.
That production value is at its sharpest when Reeves is on the warpath. In this movie, he’s on the warpath for quite some time. The body count is probably on a level shamelessly comparable to Rambo. As opposed to lesser revenge films, Reeves is a more fascinating fighter, and has an indescribably slick way of handling his endless arsenal of weaponry. He fascinates the audience with innate killer instincts combined with brutal physicality. At the same time, he also makes watchers ponder why he chose this profession and what sort of combat training he underwent to become a human representation of the grim reaper.
It’s possible that you’ve seen this plot before, but you haven’t seen a hero easier to root for or more likable than Reeves as Wick. Reeves truly is Wick, making you forget about Bill & Ted or The Matrix, while also making you wonder why he hasn’t landed more roles in recent years. There’s also enticingly tense moments where Reeves showcases some acting depth. With this performance, I expect more offers to come. And as multiple movie critics and pundits have speculated, Reeves might be in for another franchise. After the critical acclaim and surprising box office success of the first John Wick, sign me up for the second. Let’s just hope there’s enough bad guys left for him to kill in the sequel.