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John Wick: A Man. A Myth. A Hero. by Erik Henriksen

Like the best Keanu Reeves characters, John Wick is a man of few words. He lets his actions speak for themselves. Given that John Wick is an action movie, he ends up saying quite a bit; given that John Wick is a really flipping good action movie, what he says is great.

Here's John Wick's plot, in full: Bad guys kill John Wick's dog. John Wick makes them pay. As action plots go, it's simple and effective—but it's what John Wick does with its boiled-down premise that makes it the best action movie since The Raid: Redemption. Directed by two stunt coordinators, David Leitch and Chad Stahelski, John Wick has a welcome, winking awareness of its inherent goofiness and purity of purpose. The most fun parts of John Wick are the visceral, blood-spurting action sequences, but the most charming parts are in the surreal details: in John Wick, nearly every person in Manhattan and New Jersey is either a mobster or an assassin; the assassins all stay (or maybe live) at the same swanky hotel and use weird gold coins as currency; and, when subtitles pop up, certain words glow in gaudy, flickering neon. My personal favorite detail: The fact that every bad guy in John Wick is TERRIFIED of John Wick. For good reason.

Keanu's used to excellent effect here—he's perfectly suited for both the film's earnest vengeance and sly, deadpan humor—and he's backed up by supporting players who are happy to play smaller parts in this fun, violent world. Willem Dafoe, Adrianne Palicki, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, Lance Reddick, and Theon Greyjoy all show up, and all of them do exactly what's needed to keep the lean, cool John Wick gliding smoothly down its carefully crafted rails. You want a great action movie? You want to see Keanu eff up the people who killed his dog? John Wick. Forever and for all time.

John Wick

Directors David Leitch, Chad Stahelski

Opens Fri., Oct. 24

Various Theaters

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