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JOHN WICK
Blu-ray Edition

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist. Alfie Allen, Adrianne Palicki, Bridget Moynahan, Dean Winters, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, Willem Dafoe
Director: Chad Stahelski
Audio: Dolby Atmos 7.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio: Lionsgate
Features: See Review
Length: 101 Minutes
Release Date: February 3, 2015

Well, John wasn’t exactly the boogeyman. He was the one you sent to kill the f*cking boogeyman.

Film ***1/2

The revenge thriller has a new name to define it, and that name is John Wick! Not since The Punisher himself has there been a more invigorating tale of dumb criminals making the mistake of doing wrong to the last possible person it should be done to, and then paying the well deserved price for it. In addition, it’s definite reminder of what a force of nature Keanu Reeves really is!

He dominates the screen in a Lee Marvin Point Blank fashion, only with a lot more guns in tow, as the title character. When the movie opens, he suffered a great loss as his wife dies. Not too soon after that, he is delivered to his door step one final gift from her to help deal with the grieving process; a beagle named Daisy.

But a random encounter with some young Russian gangster thugs changes everything. They spot his nice ride, a 69 mustang, and after Wick refuses to sell it, they show up at his house, beat him to a bloody pulp, steal his ride and, worst of all, kill his dog. Once the young ringleader’s father, crime boss Viggo (Michael Nyqvist), gets word of this, even he knows all hell is about to break loose.

And sure enough, John Wick, a former hitman for Viggo who retired to a peaceful life after falling in love, ventures to his basement and breaks out his buried gun collection, suits up, and vows to take down every last member of the crime syndicate that took everything from him. From this point on, the movie is literally a non stop parade of phenomenal visceral ass kicking, as Wick blows holes in countless collections of henchmen as Viggo places a huge bounty on his head. One has to wonder, as Viggo himself knows Wick to be deadlier than the boogeyman himself, why he is wasting his time doing this.

As an action enterprise, John Wick is one of the absolute best in a long time. It marks the directorial debut of stunt man Chad Stahelski, whose credits range from The Matrix to The Wolverine (he’s actually doubled quite a bit for Mr. Reeves). In addition to coordinating stunts, he also captures them remarkably from a director’s perspective and, unlike so many action directors today, understands that to properly film an action scene, you must do the exact opposite of shaking the camera.

Keanu Reeves hasn’t been the most prolific of actors lately, so it’s great to see him back in action mode and in no less than a potential franchise establishing piece. At 50 years old, Reeves is doing most of his own stunts and executing (no pun intended) some physical speed and endurance most men at that age would be lucky to pull off. And this movie certainly places him alongside Liam Neeson in terms of bad asses that idiotic bad guys should never tamper with, yet continue to do so and die in agonizing pain as a result.

This is, without question, one of the biggest surprises of 2014. John Wick is a super slick, exuberantly done piece of action filmmaking that will no doubt knock the socks off any and all fans of the genre. And if you’re a devoted dog lover like me, it depicts the absolute best justice imaginable!

Video ****

This is one superbly butt kicking Blu-ray presentation from Lionsgate! The New York City setting is captured terrifically well, and the picture is always boasting with an array of well chosen colors. It’s a very slick shot movie, as well, and that comes across terrifically well through the immensely detailed picture.

Audio ****

This release is accompanied with the slightly new brand of lossless audio, Dolby Atmos, which is something of an enhanced form of the Dolby TrueHD mix. It serves this action fest about as fantastic as you can expect. Like I said, about 90% of this flick is gunfight after gunfight, and every bit of it is captured in high ferocious form. One sequence set in a nightclub certainly blows the roof off. Dialogue delivery and music playback also get top form handling and balance out extremely well with the action numbers.

Features ***

Included is a good commentary with director Chad Stahelski and producer David Leitch. There’s also several featurettes including the appropriately titled “Don’t F*#% With John Wick”, as well as “Calling in the Calvary”, “Destiny of a Collective”, “Assassin’s Code”, “Red Circle” and “NYC Noir”. Rounding out the extras is a Trailer.

Summary:

John Wick is an unapologetically balls-to-the-wall action feast that is guaranteed to satisfy any action lover’s craving. Keanu Reeves owns this movie from beginning to end. It is easily one of the best action and revenge thrillers in a very long time!

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