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JOHN WICK: 3 ½ STARS. “an uncompromising blunt, über macho instrument.”

john-wickThe old saying goes a man is allowed to cry twice; when his mom dies and when his dog dies. A new film, “John Wick,” suggests otherwise. There’s no mom in sight, but when John Wick’s (Keanu Reeves) dog bites the biscuit prematurely, he doesn’t cry. Instead he reigns holy hell down on the men responsible.

When we first meet John Wick he resembles the Sad Keanu meme. He’s a broken hearted man whose wife has recently passed away. Working through his grief he mopes around the house and does super cool things like speeding his 1970 Mustang around a private track. He’s a loner until a package arrives at his door. It’s a puppy, sent by his wife just before she died, in the hopes that the dog’s love will help ease his pain.

For a time it works, but when some very bad men break into his house to steal his Mustang, the dog winds up as collateral damage. With the last living touchstone to his late wife gone, Wick reverts back to his old ways as a mad, bad and dangerous to know assassin bent on revenge. How wicked is John Wick? “Is he the boogeyman?” asks one former associate. “He was the one we sent to kill the boogeyman.”

“John Wick” is a down-and-dirty noir that builds an alternative world of assassins where hit men and women are paid in special coins, stay in exclusive hotels—with killer views no doubt—and speak in a strangely formal way. They see themselves as professionals with a civilized code of conduct… except that there is nothing civilized about the work they do. This is a gloriously gratuitous movie with violence that approaches an all out Tarantino-style blood bath.

It’s terse, with very little dialogue. In the first fifteen minutes there are only a handful of lines, but the story, background and motivations are very clear. It’s clean storytelling with no extras. Here’s what you need to know, the movie seems to say, cue the mayhem.

Like its main character, “John Wick” is a blunt, über macho instrument. Wick is so tough he doesn’t bother to take off his blood-soaked shirt when he starts his quest for vengeance and the movie is just as uncompromising.

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