Another year, another Fantastic Fest, another Keanu Reeves action film. This is starting to become a routine. Back in 2013, the Matrix star’s directorial debut, Man of Tai Chi, enjoyed its premiere at the Austin centered genre movie bonanza; he yielded the spotlight on that picture to his friend and instructor, Tiger Chen, but still took the opportunity to remind us all that he’s still got it by strutting his martial arts stuff at the end. Three hundred and sixty five days later and Reeves is back at the festival with John Wick, which sounds dopier but looks even crazier based on the above trailer.
At a glance, John Wick is a direct product of the “unretiring” action trend that Liam Neeson helped kickstart with the Taken series: take a former killing machine who has been out of the game for a while, give him a serious case of the mopes, and you’ve got an instant formula for righteous, bullet laden retribution.
But John Wick isn’t ex-CIA. He’s just a hitman, living in solitude with only a beagle puppy, gifted to him by his late wife, for company. The trailer doesn’t give us much context beyond that; John appears to spend his days driving his totally awesome muscle car around his own private airfield for kicks. Then he runs afoul of the son of a Russian mobster (Game of Thrones‘ Alfie Allen), who decides to steal John’s car and murder his beloved pet for no reason other than because.
Usually you have to threaten a professional button man’s family to get him to ply his trade again. In the case of John Wick, it just takes one adorable pooch to set off our antihero. Most of the clip is all style and flair, with Reeves coolly plugging bad guys left and right while various objects explode in the background. There’s a Smokin’ Aces vibe here: apparently all of the assassins in John’s zip code hang out in the same neon lit nightclubs. Naturally, they’re going to butt heads.
And what an ensemble of heavies Reeves has called to his aid here. Allen’s presence here is welcome, and we get to hear Ian McShane spot some pseudo philosophical mumbo jumbo to boot, but throw in Willem Dafoe, Adrienne Palicki, Michael Nyqvist, Jason Isaacs, and Lance Reddick, and you’ve got yourself quite a rogues’ gallery going. Layer all of that with some gallows humor, and you’ve got a pretty clear idea of what to expect from the film going in.
Early word on John Wick makes it sound like a gem. Fortunately for everybody not at Fantastic Fest, it opens in theaters in just over a month, so we won’t have to wait long for Allen to owe Reeves a dog.
John Wick opens in theaters on October 24th, 2014.