John Wick

Wick works

JOHN WICK (Chad Stahelski). 101 minutes. Some subtitles. Opens Friday (October 24). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NNNN

For a movie in which dozens of people are violently shot in the head, John Wick is an awful lot of fun – and as such, it plays like a tonic for the grim-as-hell tone of The Equalizer and Fury.

Keanu Reeves is the eponymous anti-hero, a retired assassin and very recent widower who reactivates himself to go after the thugs who stole his car and killed the puppy his wife left him. (The puppy is adorable, but remember: it’s only a movie.)

As he charges Terminator-like into the heart of New York’s underworld – which is populated by a marvellous cast of character actors, and the less you know about who plays whom, the better – Wick must fight a lot of goons. And that’s where veteran stuntman and action coordinator Chad Stahelski, in his directorial debut, really distinguishes himself. Violence is what he knows, and he and his team choreograph gripping, visually inventive action sequences that make the most of their unlikely locations.

But more importantly, he makes the tone work, shifting from serious-minded character piece to full-on comic book excess so deftly you won’t even realize it’s happened. Somebody get this guy on the Daredevil reboot.

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