A recent widower is given the present of a puppy by his deceased wife who made the arrangements prior to her death.  An empty, dark life now has a chance for comfort and purpose…until three thugs invade the widower’s home, beat him to unconsciousness, kill his dog and steal his car.  Unhinged, “John Wick,” played by Keanu Reeves, reverts back to what he was prior to his marriage (the most feared hit man); and sets his sights on the thugs who took from him everything that gave his life meaning.

Things won’t come easy for Reeves’ payback, as the thug who killed his dog is the son of a powerful gangster Reeves used to work for (played by Michael Nyqvist, famous for “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” trilogy).  Realizing that Reeves will not stop until he kills the boss’ son, Nyqvist throws everything at Reeves; and what we get is a dark, brutal, action-packed movie that has a very high body count.

Reeves kills mostly using a handgun, and he does it very well with lightning speed.  Martial arts are also used heavily within the gun play, giving us action sequences that will make you yell, “Oh, s#@t!” many times.

One of my memorable moments of this movie is the scene when Reeves is driving his classic Mustang on an airport runway, constantly speeding toward parked trucks, veering off at the last moment, resetting, and heading for the trucks again.   Clearly, he wants to kill himself, but changes his mind at the last possible moment.  Could the puppy be stopping him?   She is, after all, a final gift from his beloved wife.  Who would take care of the puppy if Reeves was gone?

My most memorable, movie moment of “John Wick” would be the home invasion scene.  The puppy running for her life and being caught, and her life violently ended…that hurt to watch.  And it makes us, the audience, quickly and madly take that revenge ride along with Reeves, wherever it may take us.

As much as I liked “John Wick,” it does have its faults.  One would be the fault that most movies in this genre suffer from: lack of reality.  With all the bodies piling up and vehicles exploding and automatic gunfire in the streets (despite the use of “cleaning crews”), the police aren’t alerted to a war being waged in their city?  But it was easy for me to suspend my disbelief because many elements of “John Wick” worked so well.  This is a movie I would buy to own; and for those in the know, that is high praise from me.

— M