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‘John Wick’ wallows in mindless violence

Tom Long
The Detroit News

Keanu Reeves shoots some people in “John Wick.” Then he shoots some more people. Then he shoots some more.

Yes, he, on occasion, punches someone a few times before shooting them, and the violence is garnished with sporadic knifeplay. But mostly it’s Keanu playing bang-bang.

If that sounds great, go see the movie. If not, congratulations on aspiring to better things.

What’s most impressive about “John Wick” is its utter disdain for subtlety or complexity. It establishes immediately that Wick (Reeves) has lost the love of his life. As a parting gift, she has left him a puppy. Then masked bad guys break into Wick’s house, beat him up, kill the puppy and steal his car.

Ah, but what the bad guys don’t know is that Wick is the world’s most dangerous retired hitman. Only the spoiled son (Alfie Allen) of a powerful Russian gangster (Michael Nyqvist) would be stupid enough to kill his puppy. So, of course, Wick sets out to get revenge.

Distractions are kept to a minimum — a safe hotel for assassins, a hitman friend (Willem Dafoe), a hot hitwoman (Adrianne Palicki) — and the bullets fly, red bursts everywhere.

This is perilously close to the plot of the recent “The Equalizer,” except that film pretended to have loftier ambitions. “John Wick” at least doesn’t pretend to be anything more than an excuse for a parade of highly choreographed fight scenes ending in mass bloodshed, which makes sense, since it’s co-directed by two veteran stuntmen, David Leitch and Chad Stahelski.

There’s a certain honesty to their approach. They honestly want to bathe you in mindless violence. They’re betting a lot of people want to take that kind of bath. What a happy thought.

‘John Wick’


Rated R for strong and bloody violence throughout, language and brief drug use

Running time: 101 minutes