His son, Iosef (Alfie Allen), is the one who raided John's house and he is brought up to speed with a fantastic foreboding as Viggo describes Wick as the man he used to send to kill the Bogeyman. Now the Bogeyman's bogeyman is coming for them and his sheer force of will is brilliantly, and ridiculously, illustrated as he pounds a hole in the concrete floor in his garage with a hammer to reveal a cache of guns and gold pieces. Those guns are put to startlingly impressive effect as Wick proves to be more than just dogged - he has a real flair for killing folks. Through a variety of settings, he takes out innumerable foes in sleek and propulsive action set-pieces that truly prove exhilarating. His no-nonsense attitude is captured in a tendency to finish people off with a shot to the head, even mid-flow, topping a perfect blend of grace and muscle with a unusually unique calling card. Fisticuffs aside, the plot moves as quickly and seamlessly through several gears upping the stakes and the bone-crunching as it goes.
Reeves is perfect in the role, using what he has to great effect both in his stoicism, and wit. Indeed, he also does a surprisingly good job in the more emotional early scenes which show those cringeworthy family/motivation scenes at the begin of the Taken films how it's done - despite Neeson's considerably more lauded acting ability. It feels as though nobody else could have played John Wick, and Reeves is surrounded by other solid performers; not least in Ian McShane's appearance as the proprietor of a hotel for assassins, and Willem Dafoe's truncated turn as Wick's mentor. Admittedly characterisation is secondary, though, because above all else John Wick is a lean, mean revenger to go with its ice-cold protagonist. It's not perfect, but you'll be hard pressed to find a more enjoyable action movie this year.
Ben Nicholson | @BRNicholson