Keanu Reevesback in action
(The Philippine Star) - October 26, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Anyone praying that Keanu Reeves will one day return to his glorious action will lap up the new sleek and stylish thriller John Wick.

Keanu plays the title character — a former assassin whom people talk about in hushed tones; the boogeyman you send to take out the boogeyman. But he gave up killing to care for his sick wife, and when she dies and leaves him a puppy to help deal with his grief, that dog becomes the focus of Wick’s life.

He is dragged back in to the murky underworld following an altercation at a gas station when a spoilt mobster’s son, played by Game of Thrones star Alfie Allen, decides to pay Wick a visit, steal his car, beat him black and blue, and kill his dog. Big mistake. As one of the character says, “It’s not what you did son, it’s who you did it to,” to which Allen’s character replied to, “The nobody?” with a look of bewilderment in his eyes, “The nobody is John Wick.”

Wick is a straightforward and clever film featuring Keanu doing what he does best, doing action with a signature smirk. With flashy fight choreography and on-the-nose performances from an all-star cast, the movie delivers a solid action flick experience worthy of Keanu’s pedigree in the genre.

Having two fight choreographers as directors — David Leitch and Chad Stahelski, who own and operate 87Eleven Action Design (a Hollywood choreography studio that builds fight sequences and trains stuntmen for some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters) —makes for great fight scenes. Clever takedowns are marked with smooth glides and subtle touches. There aren’t any excess cheat cuts that let directors falsely ramp up the adrenaline while distracting from a fight. If the camera angle changes or there is a cut in the action, it’s almost always to get a better view of what is actually happening in the fight.

“I met them on The Matrix trilogy,” explains Keanu. “And they’ve done second unit directing for films like Hunger Games, The Expendables, 300 and a lot of Jason Statham movies. They raised the bar really high. They wanted to do long takes, and not so many cuts. They wanted to integrate pistol work with judo and ju-jitsu. They introduced me to some professionals to teach me those different skills.”

One of the greatest strengths of the film is the infallible cast that swings through. Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man) and Ian McShane (Hercules, Pirates of the Caribbean) play the closest things to friends Wick has in this world, and even then, you’re not quite sure they’re on his side. Adrienne Palicki (G.I. Joe: Retaliation) vamps it up as a femme fatale.

In terms of action, drama and excitement, the film delivers. John Wick is designed for an audience well-versed in big-screen action.

John Wick opens nationwide on Wednesday, Oct. 29.


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