Well played, old friend Keanu Reeves. You knew I had a soft spot for him since our excellent adventure at San Dimas High School back in 1989.
For many years thereafter, you were my little Buddha. Yet the buzzkill contingent said you were an airhead. Then you morphed into a psychedelic action hero with the “Matrix” series. You were the chosen one, smarter than Socrates, and I was Mr. Bill, your sidekick.
You disappeared down the rabbit hole for much of the millennium, but you emerged as a man of tai chi. You were big in Asia, where they claimed you as one of their own.
Now you’re returning to American theaters as the title character in “John Wick.” So who exactly is this John Wick? According to the most ruthless Russian gangster in New York (Michael Nyqvist), Wick was the mob’s best assassin — until he fell for some American chick (Bridget Moynihan) and got out of the game.
But Mrs. Wick gets sick. A few days after she dies, as John is consoling himself with a new puppy, the Russian gangster’s hot-headed son (Alfie Allen) steals Wick’s ’69 Mustang — and takes a baseball bat to the beagle.
I’ve got to hand it to you, there’s not a trace of Catholic guilt in your multicultural DNA. You don’t bother to explain why Wick’s lovely wife married a cut-throat assassin in the first place. And in his maniacal quest to avenge the puppy she gave him, he is willing to kill an infinite number of henchmen.
I confess I got some mild chuckles out of the fact that much of the mayhem takes place at a crowded disco and at a swank Manhattan hotel that is the apparent clubhouse of the Widowed Hitmen of America (WHOA). That’s where Wick trades gold coins for professional advice from legendary cut-throats such as Marcus (Willem Dafoe) and Mrs. Perkins (Adrianne Palicki), both of whom are willing to kill him in exchange for the Russian mobster’s $2 million bounty.
As you know, I’ve always joked that there are more movies about hitmen than there are actual hitmen in the world. Yet because I’ve always liked you, I was snookered into seeing this one, even though my conscience said that such movies were poisonous to the world we share.
Sorry, Keanu, but you stole my time and you murdered my brain cells. By the sacred oath of WHOA, there will be blood, and this time it’s personal.
What “John Wick” • One and a half stars out of four • Rating R • Run time 1:40 • Content Bloody violence, strong language and some drug use