Clint Eastwood’s character apparently killed roughly 80 Nazis in Where Eagles Dare (1968).
Keanu Reeves as John Wick makes a hell of an attempt to beat that number in this film.
It’s fair bet to say he probably succeeds.
That might sound a bit monotonous as a plot but it turns out to be rather mesmerising.
We start knowing very little about Mr Wick. He’s obviously well-to-do, lives in an ultra-modern, superbly designed and expensively outfitted if austere mansion in rural New York. He has an expensive car collection.
We don’t know what he does. We don’t know what he did. We don’t know where his money came from.
Gradually we learn a little more. We find out that his wife has just died after a long illness. John Wick is a man in mourning, trying to come to terms with his loss. A thoughtful and foresighted woman, worried that this might be the case, his late wife has organised an intervention to draw John back into the world of life and living.
She has a puppy delivered.
And it has exactly the effect she hoped. Gradually man and dog bond. ‘Daisy’ as a final gift from his wife occupies a very special place in John Wick’s life.
The only thing that comes close to being as important is his car – a vintage Mustang.
Then one fine day John and Daisy encounter some Russian mobsters at a local service station, one of whom takes a great interest in the Mustang – so much so that he offers to buy the car, whatever the cost. He expects to get what he wants, the offer becoming ever more a demand and is flabbergasted, furious and then grievously offended when John refuses to either be intimidated or to sell at any price.
The mobster utters an insult in Russian. And John Wick responds fluently in the same language. An insight that raises far more questions than it in any way answers.
Later the same night, John wakes to unexpected sounds downstairs.
The Russian hasn’t taken ‘No’ for an answer.
In a short space of time, John’s life is turned upside-down again.
As he tries to get some semblance of balance back in the days that follow, his past life is revealed – and we realise that the Russians have picked on the worst possible target for a home invasion.
What follows is non-stop action, stylish, sustained and superbly entertaining.