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John Wick


Stars: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Willem Dafoe, Alfie Allen, Adrianne Palicki, Dean Winters, Ian McShane, Bridget Moynahan, John Leguizamo, Lance Reddick

Director: Chad Stahelski

It's a good job this violent, stylised crime shoot-em-up is pretty well all action, as the acting is terrible. Reeves, of course, is not best known for his thespian abilities, but he's by no means the worst performer on display here. Dragon Tattoo's Nyqvist is totally out of his depth as a Russian Mafia boss, as is Allen, with an equally dodgy accent, as his son.

Even the usually reliable Dafoe is below his best, and it's Britain's McShane, with his crocodile grin, who's one of the few who seems at home in this nightmarish nightmare world.

John Wick (Reeves), unbeknown to a trio of wild junior Russian gangsters with whom he has a brush at a garage where they covet his Mustang car, is a former ace hitman now retired (though he doesn't seem able to hit anything unless it's in the hairs of his rifle or six feet away from his revolver).

Already dyspeptic and depressed after the death of his wife, Wick, who now tests cars, is hardly the sort of man into whose house one should break, smashing him to the ground, stealing his car and killing the dog that was his wife's last present to him.

And, as to what happen when the Russians later kill his friend, well...

Helmer Stahelski and his co-director David Leitch both have extensive backgrounds in stuntwork, and it shows, especially in the scenes of hand-to-hand combat, only a few of which are obviously done by doubles. But a film composed entirely of this sort of thing does get on your, well, wick, in the end. No doubt it will go down a storm on DVD, though, and John Wick 2 is already in the works.

David Quinlan

USA 2014. UK Distributor: LionsGate. Colour (unspecified).
101 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 0, Swearing 3.

Review date: 10 Apr 2015