Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Chad Stahelski[a]|
|Written by||Derek Kolstad|
|Edited by||Elísabet Ronalds|
|Distributed by||Summit Entertainment|
|Box office||$88.8 million|
John Wick (also known as John Wick: Chapter 1) is a 2014 American neo-noir action thriller film directed by Chad Stahelski, in his directorial debut, and written by Derek Kolstad. It stars Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Adrianne Palicki, Bridget Moynahan, Dean Winters, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, and Willem Dafoe. It is the first installment in the John Wick film series.
The story focuses on John Wick (Reeves), searching for the men who broke into his home, stole his vintage car and killed his puppy, which were a last gift to him from his recently deceased wife (Moynahan). Stahelski and David Leitch directed the film together, though only Stahelski was credited.
Kolstad had completed the screenplay in 2012 and further developed it for Thunder Road Pictures. The film was produced by Basil Iwanyk of Thunder Road Pictures, Leitch, Eva Longoria, and Michael Witherill. It marks Stahelski and Leitch's directorial debut as a team after multiple separate credits as second-unit directors and stunt coordinators. They previously worked with Reeves as stunt doubles on The Matrix trilogy.
Stahelski and Leitch's approach to action scenes drew upon their admiration for anime and martial arts films. The film used fight choreographers and gun fu techniques from Hong Kong action cinema. The film also pays homage to works such as John Woo's The Killer, Jean-Pierre Melville's Le Cercle Rouge and Le Samouraï, John Boorman's Point Blank, and the spaghetti western films.
The film was met with positive reviews, with critics calling it one of Reeves' best performances and one of the best action films of 2014. It grossed $88 million worldwide against a production budget of $20 million. Two sequels, John Wick: Chapter 2, and John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, were released in February 2017 and May 2019 respectively, both to comparable critical and commercial success, with another sequel, John Wick: Chapter 4, set for a May 2021 release. It is also the only film in the series to be distributed by Summit Entertainment, as the other films are distributed by Lionsgate Films.
After John Wick loses his wife, Helen, to a terminal illness, he receives a beagle puppy named Daisy from his late wife to help him cope with his grief. Despite John's stoic demeanor, he bonds with the puppy and they spend their day driving around in his vintage 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1. At a gas station he encounters a trio of Russian gangsters whose leader, Iosef, insists on buying his car, but John repeatedly states that it is not for sale. Angered, the mobsters follow John to his home, knock him unconscious, steal his car and kill Daisy.
Iosef takes the Mustang to a chop shop to have the VIN changed. Aurelio, the shop's owner, recognizes the car and, upon learning that Iosef stole it from John, punches him before throwing him out of his shop. John visits Aurelio, who identifies Iosef as the son of Viggo Tarasov, the head of the Russian crime syndicate in New York City. Viggo, informed by Aurelio of Iosef's activities, beats and berates Iosef before explaining to him who John Wick is: a famed assassin formerly in Viggo's employ, nicknamed "Baba Yaga" (translated in the film as Russian for "Boogeyman"). When John wanted to retire and marry Helen, Viggo gave him an "impossible task," implied to involve multiple assassinations in a short period of time. John succeeded, and his efforts were key in establishing the Tarasov syndicate.
Viggo tries to talk John out of seeking retribution, but John refuses. Viggo then sends a thirteen-man hit squad to John's house, but John kills them all and has the bodies professionally removed. An unsurprised Viggo places a $2 million bounty on John's head and personally offers the contract to John's mentor, Marcus. John seeks refuge at the Continental Hotel, which caters exclusively to the criminal underworld and permits no "business" on its premises. Viggo doubles the bounty for those willing to break the rules to kill John at the Continental.
Winston, the Continental's owner, tells John that Viggo has Iosef under guard at his nightclub, the Red Circle. John enters the Red Circle and kills his way to Iosef but Viggo's henchman, Kirill, waylays John, allowing Iosef to escape. John retreats to the Continental to patch up his injuries. Ms. Perkins, an assassin and former acquaintance, sneaks into John's room to kill him but Marcus alerts John, allowing him to subdue Perkins. He forces Perkins to reveal the location of Viggo's front, knocks her unconscious and leaves her with Harry, a fellow assassin, to await punishment. However, Perkins frees herself and kills Harry.
John travels to the Little Russia church which serves as Viggo's front and destroys Viggo's cache of money and blackmail material. When Viggo and his team arrive, John ambushes them, but is subdued and captured. Viggo taunts John for thinking he could leave his old life behind. Marcus intervenes again, allowing John to free himself and to kill Kirill before accosting Viggo, who reveals Iosef's location. John then travels to the safe house and kills Iosef and his bodyguards.
Perkins learns that John and Marcus have been in contact and tells Viggo, who has Marcus beaten and tortured before executing him in his home. Viggo calls John to report this, planning to have Perkins ambush him. While waiting for John, Perkins is called to a meeting with Winston, who has her executed for killing Harry on Continental grounds.
Winston calls John to inform him that Viggo is planning to escape by helicopter. John races to the harbor helipad, where he kills Viggo's remaining henchmen before engaging Viggo in a brawl on the dock. Viggo pulls a knife, and John allows himself to be stabbed, surprising Viggo. John then disarms Viggo and fatally wounds him. John breaks into a waterfront animal clinic to treat his wound and releases a pit bull puppy scheduled to be euthanized. John and the dog walk home along the boardwalk where he had his last date with Helen.
The cast also includes: David Patrick Kelly as a "cleaner" named Charlie; Randall Duk Kim as an underworld doctor; Lance Reddick as Charon, a talented concierge at The Continental Hotel; Munro M. Bonnell as a Russian Orthodox priest who protects the vault where Viggo stores his valuables; Omer Barnea as Gregori and Toby Leonard Moore as Victor, Iosef's friends and bodyguards; Daniel Bernhardt as Kirill, Viggo's henchman; Bridget Regan as Addy, a bartender of the Continental and former acquaintance of John, Keith Jardine as Kuzma; Tait Fletcher as Nicholai; Thomas Sadoski as Jimmy; Clarke Peters as Harry; Kevin Nash as a bouncer named Francis at the Red Circle nightclub; Gameela Wright as a delivery woman; Vladislav Koulikov as Pavel; Pat Squire as an elderly woman; Vladimir Troitsky as a team leader; and Scott Tixier (uncredited) as a violinist.
The premise for John Wick was conceived by screenwriter Derek Kolstad who began work on a treatment about a retired contract killer coming out to seek vengeance, titled Scorn. After one month of work, he had completed the first draft of the screenplay, and once he had addressed several issues he pitched the script to various clients, garnering at least three offers. Kolstad was influenced by film-noir classics and the themes of revenge and the antihero and what might play out if the most evil man found redemption only to have it taken away. The works of Alistair MacLean and Stephen King influenced Kolstad in creating the story in terms of world-building and characterisation, respectively.
On December 3, 2012, it was announced that Thunder Road Pictures had bought the script with discretionary funds, with Kolstad agreeing due to plans to make the film straight away. When Basil Iwanyk, head of Thunder Road Pictures, had first read Kolstad's original screenplay, he was immediately drawn to the main character of Wick. He also admired the emotional weight and action theme of the piece. After Thunder Road had optioned the script, Kolstad spent additional months refurbishing the script with them. In the original script, the character of John Wick was written with "a man in his mid-sixties" to play the role, given the title character's fabled reputation as a revered and respected assassin. However, Iwanyk was of the belief that this was irrelevant, and rather than casting an older actor looked for a film veteran.
On May 7, 2013, it was announced that Keanu Reeves had begun negotiations in April to star in the piece. He was later confirmed as the film's male lead, after Iwanyk and Peter Lawson of Thunder Road showed him the script, which he thought to be full of potential. Reeves and Kolstad had worked closely together on further developing the screenplay and the story, with the screenwriter stating that Reeves understood how even tiny details affect the story's strength. The title of the film was later changed from Scorn as, according to Kolstad, "Reeves kept telling everyone that he was making a film called 'John Wick'", and the producers agreed, changing the title.
During story discussions, Reeves contacted Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, who he originally met on the set of The Matrix, to see if they were interested in choreographing the action though he hoped they would direct. He thought the project and the worlds it created would appeal to them. The quality of the script and Reeves' enthusiasm convinced Stahelski and Leitch to direct the film. They later presented a thriller version of the story with Wick as an urban legend. With Reeves' support, Stahelski and Leitch pitched the idea to the studio, who hired them to direct, contrary to an initial request of directing the film's second unit. On May 7, 2013, it was announced that Stahelski and Leitch were to direct the film, though it was later ruled by the Directors Guild of America that only Stahelski would be given the director credit. Leitch was credited as a producer.
Stahelski acknowledged the challenges in balancing the action with the pace and tone, having done this for individual scenes but never before for a whole movie. He acknowledged that action itself should be a collaborative entity with the story, as opposed to being a separate element. He said they didn't stop the story for an action sequence, but integrated it to provide a deeper feeling of the characters.
It was remarked by Kolstad, once Reeves, Stahelski and Leitch were officially on board, that from January to September 2013, he was still working on the final drafts of the screenplay, which he described as a "relentless process ... in order to get everyone's vision in check."
On September 12, 2013, Willem Dafoe was confirmed to have been cast in the role of Marcus. On September 19, 2013, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Adrianne Palicki and Dean Winters were confirmed to be a part of the film's supporting cast. On October 14, 2013, Bridget Moynahan had joined the cast in the role of Wick's wife. On October 15, 2013, Jason Isaacs had joined the cast, portraying David. On November 27, 2013, Daniel Bernhardt was confirmed to play Kirill.
Principal photography was confirmed to have begun in New York City, with an original shooting schedule from September 25 to December 5, 2013. On October 14, 2013, shooting began in Mill Neck, New York, with the filming scheduled to continue in the greater New York area.
On August 26, 2013, Lionsgate announced that they were looking for "a high-end glass house with a water view" that was located in Nassau County where the 'Intruders' sequence was ultimately filmed. Both interiors and exteriors of the house were used. A couple of additional scenes were shot in Long Island. On October 6, 2013, filming occurred next door to the Flatiron School, on 11 Broadway. The production moved to Brooklyn on October 24, with filming occurring on 6th Avenue between Union and Carroll Street, President Street between 6th and 7th Avenues and Carroll Street between 6th and 7th Avenues. Additional filming later occurred at the St. Francis Xavier Church on 6th Avenue. On October 28, 2013, a scene was shot at CITGO gas station, 501 N. Highland Ave in Upper Nyack, while also shooting footage at Route 9W and Christian Herald Road.
On November 1, 2013, filming took place in lower Manhattan at 1 Wall Street Court, used for the exterior of the Continental Hotel. On November 12, 2013, some scenes were shot on 25 Broadway, and in downtown Manhattan on Beaver Street by Broad Street. Filming also took place at W 43rd Street and 8th Avenue, on November 13, in Manhattan, and club scenes for John Wick have been filmed on W 27 Street, with November 15 being the last night schedule at the location. On November 21, 2013, it was announced that a bath house scene was scheduled to be filmed on November 24, December 4 and 5. Other shooting locations included Tribeca, on November 20, in which a chase scene was filmed on Church Street. It was also reported, on November 27, that filming had been set up on E 83rd Street and 3rd Avenue on the Upper East Side.
On December 2, 2013, a three-week Upper East Side shoot was scheduled until December 22, with Keanu Reeves and Willem Dafoe filming several scenes. Filming continued to shoot in Tribeca from December 3 to 5, with the notification placed on Church and Franklin. After the Tribeca shoot, the crew moved to Long Island on December 6 to film a funeral scene. Additional filming was reported on December 13 for Chambers Street, Worth Street and Lafayette Street. On December 19, Reeves was filming in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn.
According to directors commentary, their first cut of the movie was 2 hours and 20 minutes long. They didn't reveal much about approximately 39 minutes of footage that was left out of the movie but they did mention that the climactic fight between John and Viggo was pared down after they acknowledged that Viggo shouldn't pose a big physical threat to Wick. David Leitch said many visually amazing shots were cut which were "just Keanu walking in cool environments."
The film was shot digitally with Arri Alexa XT in a distributed aspect ratio of 2.39:1. Cinematographer Jonathan Sela chose to work with Arri Alexa XT cameras due to discussions regarding the look of the film. He had pushed for a mix of Arricam and Alexa for a blend of film and digital but the cost of both packages and film was unreasonable so they used ALEXA exclusively. Sela had familiarity with the camera from previous commercial work.
Sela spoke of the idea that Stahelski, Leitch and himself wished to achieve a visual contrast between John Wick's normal life and the other of which he's drawn back into the underworld of assassins. "We wanted the first look to be soft and clean, and the second to be grittier, darker and sharper." They shot with a single camera so Sela used lenses and camera techniques to achieve the contrasting visuals. He describes the first section of the film as being far more static by stating that, "the camera never stops moving". For John Wick he had decided on using both anamorphic and spherical lenses, to which he combined a set of Hawk V-Lite Vintage '74 anamorphics with that of Cooke S4 sphericals. The initial plan was to use the anamorphic and spherical lenses in the first and second parts, respectively, to create the visual contrast; however, he decided against such a course of action as he felt camerawork alone sufficiently separated the worlds, allowing them to use anamorphics for day shoots and sphericals at night. Sela praised Hawk's Vintage '74 as "beautiful", though they flare considerably, which would have become overbearing during night-time shooting. He felt their daytime use gave a "hazy look [... which seemed ...] more cinematic".
According to Sela, on-board ARRIRAW recording with the ALEXA XT cameras made a considerable difference with camerawork, stating, "Having the ALEXA XT with in-camera ARRIRAW is like going back to an ARRICAM or an ARRIFLEX 435, which is amazing."[incomprehensible] There was a considerable amount of handheld camera work on the second section and usage of the ALEXA M allowed filming through windows and tight spaces, particularly for the car scenes. Sela was recording ARRIRAW and used the whole sensor area of ALEXA's 4:3 for the anamorphic scenes, which allowed for the maximisation of the image quality for a 4K cinema release. The extra sensor area provided valuable data for later image processing.
The choice of using only a single camera led to the development of the film's long take fight scenes, as they could not afford a second camera. Often, during these scenes, the actors that were first to fall would have to get up once out of shot, race behind the camera, and then jump in again as a new attacker.
Costume designer Luca Mosca explained that Wick had to possess a piece of attire that had to be worn throughout almost the entire production of the film. Mosca's team tailored it to be "sleek and timeless" for the film's world. Due to the nature of the world Stahelski and Leitch created, Mosca had to create a statement for every character based on their costume. Reeves gave praise for the costume designer and highlighted Mosca's ability to give the pieces of clothing subtle meanings. He described his costume as "funereal" and "priestly" and stylish without standing out. Initially the villains were to be in combat gear, but later they decided against that due to the principle that they have to be placed in suits, with Leitch quoting Mosca, "It is about men in suits."
John Wick features not two worlds, but instead "two of everything", joked production designer Dan Leigh on the contrast of the worlds. Leigh approached the production as a graphic-novel fable, with ethereal textures and unexpected set dressing.
Production sound mixer Danny Michael had used Sound Devices' 788T-SSD digital recorder and CL-WiFi as sound devices, supplemented with a Lectrosonics VRT-Venue System, Lectrosonics radio mics, Schoeps CMC-6U and CMIT-5U microphones, a Cooper Sound 208 mixer, Blackmagic dual seven-inch monitors and a Denecke Dcode GR-1 as the main time clock. The action-oriented film required many sound effects and "file-based workflow".[further explanation needed]
For Michael, the 788T-SSD's ability to swap removable storage was an advantage, supplying CompactFlash (CF) to the post-production company Light Iron, in order for them to process the raw unedited footage on set. Michael stated he would hand-off his sound at every camera change to a person in arm's reach who assembled it with the digital footage on the spot.
Jake Braver was the overall visual-effects supervisor and visual-effects company Spin VFX worked on most of the visual effects.
The musical score to John Wick was composed by Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard, with on-screen violin music performed by Scott Tixier. The film features a few pieces of additional music such as Marilyn Manson's "Killing Strangers" and T-Bo and Bengie B's "Get Money". The original soundtrack album, John Wick: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, was released digitally on October 21, 2014 and received a physical format release on October 27 by Varese Sarabande Records. In addition to Bates and Richard's score, the album features music by artists such as Ciscandra Nostalghia, The Candy Shop Boys, and M86 & Susie Q. Le Castle Vania provided additional music for the score.
Stahelski considered the untold backstory in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and wanted to leave John Wick's to the audience's imagination. He also said that they repeatedly watched Point Blank and made homages to it in John Wick. Park Chan-wook's The Vengeance Trilogy (2002–2005) and Lee Jeong-beom's The Man from Nowhere (2010) influenced the film due to their "minimalist composition and graphic nature."
Screenwriter Derek Kolstad said that he was hugely influenced by Alistair MacLean for world-building and Stephen King for characterisation, noting that King surprised readers with what a protagonist could be driven to. Stahelski and Leitch also drew inspiration from the visual stylings of the 1960s and 1970s and works of Sergio Leone, Akira Kurosawa, Steve McQueen, Lee Marvin, William Friedkin and Sam Peckinpah. Stahelski stated liking the Kurosawa and spaghetti western sensibility in the composition, and that noir film had less influence on them.
The official website for John Wick debuted on August 15, 2014 introducing a marketing campaign and interactive layout to promote the film. The website streamed an audio file and contained interactive games such as "The Red Circle Club" and "Revenge Ride". Lionsgate provided information on the cast and crew along with a gallery and video section. The first images debuted on August 21, 2014 featuring Reeves' as Wick. With the release Liongate confirmed the film being set for a "sudden release" on October 24, 2014. On September 10, 2014, the teaser poster was released with the confirmation date of the expected teaser trailer. The teaser trailer for John Wick debuted September 12, 2014. The theatrical release poster and the final theatrical trailer were both released on September 30, 2014, by Stahelski and Leitch on an 'Ask me anything' Reddit session.
Lionsgate had provided Collider and Moviepilot, on October 2, 2014, with a prize pack to give away to various readers, which included Assassin's Creed Unity, a $25 Fandango gift card, a Lionsgate DVD 3-pack with Dredd, Gamer, and Rambo, and a John Wick poster and T-shirt. On October 6, 2014, the official website for John Wick had been updated to include three trailers, photographs with John's story, individual cast photos, and mini-biographies. The IMAX TV spot trailer for John Wick debuted October 6, 2014, featuring new footage of the film. Carl F. Bucherer was the official partner of the John Wick premiere in New York City on October 13, 2014. Keanu Reeves sported a Manero AutoDate with a light dial, Willem Dafoe wore a Manero AutoDate in classic black, and Daniel Bernhardt with a Patravi ChronoGrade. An IMAX featurette was released on October 22, 2014 with clips relating to the film accompanied by statements by Reeves, Stahelski, and Leitch.
As part of a cross-promotional deal with Overkill Software, Lionsgate and Thunder Road Pictures, on October 21, 2014, John Wick was added as a playable character in the online game Payday 2. Other elements from the film were included, such as Wick's signature weapons and skill tree that allowed for dual-wielding of certain firearms. Fandango offered people who purchased tickets online at select theaters a free download of Payday 2 through Steam. Variety described Liongate's deal as a "pretty imaginative marketing move". Danielle DePalma, Lionsgate's EVP of digital marketing, stated, "We're big fans of Payday 2 and the team at Starbreeze, and we're thrilled to kick off our partnership with such a cool movie". Bo Andersson Klint, Starbreeze CEO, stated, "We've finally got a real hitman on our team. Being able to play as John Wick in Payday 2 ahead of the movie's release is a great reward for our loyal Payday 2 community."[relevant? ]
John Wick premiered at the Regal Union Square Theatre, Stadium 14 on October 13, 2014 in New York City. It had an earlier screening at the Austin Fantastic Fest on September 19, where it opened the official sidebar section, Special Gala Screening, to an astounding reception. It opened in Los Angeles at the ArcLight Hollywood on October 22, 2014. John Wick had its television premiere on the USA channel on March 12, 2017.
Prior to John Wick's public release, an advance screening of the film was shown on October 9, 2014 at Regal Oakwood in Hollywood, Florida. A screening was shown in advance at the UA Court Street in Brooklyn, New York on October 14. Glendale Designs sponsored a private screening on October 16, 2014 at Harkins Arrowhead in Peoria, Arizona. BackstageOL and Lionsgate hosted an advance screening on October 21, 2014 at Edwards Greenway Grand Palace Stadium in Houston, Texas and at the Santikos Embassy 14 in San Antonio, Texas. Additionally, Lionsgate had announced 40 additional advanced screenings at selected theatres in the United States October 21 and 22, as part of a national promotional campaign. Entertainment One Films held advance screenings in Toronto, Ottawa, Halifax, Calgary, Edmonton, Victoria and Vancouver between October 20 and 23.
John Wick began a wide theatrical release in the United States on October 24, 2014, expanding in successive weeks to France, Australia and Netherlands, and premiered in the United Kingdom on February 2, 2015 after expanding throughout Europe.
On May 22, 2013, Liongate had sold more than $250 million in territorial rights to nine titles at the Cannes Film Festival, including John Wick. Studio Canal will distribute the piece throughout Germany, Metropolitan Filmexport acquired the French distribution rights to John Wick from Lionsgate, Acme Film acquired the distribution rights throughout the Baltic region, Monolith Films acquired the film rights in Poland, Imagem had acquired the Latin American distribution rights, Orange Sky Golden Harvest obtained the film rights in Taiwan and Hong Kong, and Media Pro acquired the rights in the regions of Czech, Romania, Hungary, and Bulgaria. Entertainment One Films picked up the Canadian distribution rights. On June 10, 2014, Belga Films had acquired the rights to distribute the film within the Benelux region. On July 2, 2014, MK2 Pictures were confirmed to have acquired the Italian distribution rights to John Wick. On May 8, 2014, the Huayi Brothers picked up the Chinese distribution rights to John Wick, being one of only four films from the United States that were picked up, with a planned 2015 limited theatrical release. On August 11, 2014, Lions Gate Entertainment acquired from Thunder Road Pictures the distribution rights to John Wick in the United States, with a planned 2014 limited theatrical release, and in October, Summit Entertainment, a Lionsgate company, distributed the film in the United States On October 31, 2014, it was announced that Warner Bros. Pictures would be distributing the film within the United Kingdom. It was later announced that the release date in the United Kingdom was moved back from the first weekend of 2015 to April 10, 2015.
On October 2, 2014, Summit Entertainment announced that John Wick would be released in IMAX. Phil Groves, Senior Vice President of IMAX Corp and Executive Vice President of Global Distribution, IMAX Entertainment, stated, "John Wick is a fun action romp, complete with a tremendously entertaining performance by Keanu Reeves that is perfect for IMAX fans." further adding, "There's no better place for audiences to experience the film's stylized storytelling than in IMAX theatres."[relevant? ]
John Wick earned $14.4 million from 2,589 locations on its opening weekend, compared to the $7–8 million most analysts projected the film would make. By the end of its theatrical run, John Wick grossed $43 million in North America and $45.7 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $88.8 million, against a production budget of $20–30 million.
The film had a wide release in the United States and Canada in selected theatres on October 24. The film earned $5.45 million on its opening day, including $875,000 from Thursday night previews, which was the second-highest opening of that weekend, at an average of $5,465 per theater. The film grossed $2.5 million from 347 IMAX locations that weekend, which represented 17.7 percent of the film's overall gross for its opening weekend. The audience was 60% male and 77% were older than 25.
Outside North America, the film took $1.4 million during its international opening weekend. The film's highest-grossing debuts were in France, Australia, Thailand, Mexico, and the United Arab Emirates. On its second week, it added $6.7 million from 33 territories. The film went number one in France ($1.2 million) from 300 screens, number three in Australia ($961,000) from 177 screens, and number ten in the Middle East ($1 million) from a total of 80 screens.
John Wick earned a positive reception upon release, attaining praise for the action sequences, direction, visual style, pacing and the performances of the cast, especially Keanu Reeves as John Wick. The review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a score of 87% based on 211 reviews, and an average rating of 6.95/10. Its critical consensus reads, "Stylish, thrilling, and giddily kinetic, John Wick serves as a satisfying return to action for Keanu Reeves – and what looks like it could be the first of a franchise." Metacritic, another review aggregator, assigned the film a weighted average score of 68 out of 100, based on reviews from 40 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". CinemaScore reported that audiences gave the film a "B" grade, on an A+ to F scale.
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone stated, "John Wick is the kind of fired-up, ferocious B-movie fun some of us can't get enough of" and noted the "juicy performances" from Dafoe, Leguizamo, and McShane. Richard Corliss of Time magazine wrote, "Action movies are about movement, and John Wick pursues that goal with remorseless verve." Ignatiy Vishnevetsky of The A.V. Club gave the film a "B+" rating, stating, "An underworld fantasy that grafts crisp action on to Rian Johnson-esque world-building, producing one of the more fully realized shoot-'em-up flicks in recent memory." He continued by praising Kolstad's script which "distinguishes itself by carefully defining the boundaries of its universe". Chris Nashawaty of Entertainment Weekly gave the film an "A−" rating and called Kolstad's screenplay, "a marvelously rich and stylish feat of pulpy world-building."
Justin Lowe of The Hollywood Reporter wrote, "After a marked absence from the genre, Reeves resoundingly returns with an effortless, kinetic style that positions the film extremely well for any potential follow-ups." Peter Debruge of Variety spoke highly of the film, "Back in action-hero mode, Keanu Reeves joins forces with his Matrix stunt double to deliver a slick and satisfying revenge thriller" and noted "what a thrill well-choreographed action can be when we're actually able to make out what's happening". Stephanie Zacharek of The Village Voice said that, "Reeves is wonderful here, a marvel of physicality and stern determination – he moves with the grace of an old-school swashbuckler." Bilge Ebiri of Vulture commented, "It's a beautiful coffee-table action movie."
Jeannette Catsoulis wrote, in her review for The New York Times, "Harboring few ambitions beyond knock-your-socks-off action sequences, this crafty revenge thriller delivers with so much style – and even some wit – that the lack of substance takes longer than it should to become problematic." Catsoulis praised Dafoe and Leguizamo for "bringing real subtlety to an all-too-brief scene" and Nyqvist as "marvellous", as well as Stahelski's direction and Sela's cinematography. Forrest Wickman of Slate noted, "John Wick offers a slow burn, sizzling in a manner true to its hero's surname." Jordan Hoffman of The Guardian scored the film four out of five stars, writing, "A slick, propulsive and ridiculous crime picture that strides like an automatic machine gun."
Peter Bradshaw, also reviewing for The Guardian, gave the film 2 out of 5 stars and stated "Reeves's semi-deliberate zonked deadpan style only really works in juxtaposition with funny dialogue – and this is a pretty humourless and violent film, which grinds on and on with more and more gleaming black SUVs getting trashed." Ealasaid Haas of San Jose Mercury News described John Wick as a "disappointingly standard revenge movie." John Semley of The Globe and Mail called the title "the new name in crummy action cinema," giving it one-half out of 4 stars.
On August 7, 2015, Lionsgate and Starbreeze Studios announced a partnership to develop a first-person shooter virtual reality game based on the film for the HTC Vive/Steam VR. Development was to be headed by Grab Games, with Starbreeze set to publish. WEVR was to develop an introductory experience for the game. The game was released on February 9, 2017, with the name John Wick Chronicles. and have a standalone narrative based on the Continental Hotel. Additionally, John Wick content – a free Character Pack and a chargeable Weapons Pack – was released for the Payday 2 games on October 20, 2016, as cross-promotion.
“The Reaper” character skin in Fortnite: Battle Royale was often referred to as John Wick. There has since been an official John Wick skin released alongside a limited game mode titled “Wick’s Bounty.”
A sequel was released on February 10, 2017, and at the 2016 CinemaCon, Reeves hinted that more sequels had been planned. Following the release of John Wick: Chapter 2, a third movie was released as of May 17, 2019 by the name of John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. A fourth installment, John Wick: Chapter 4, is in the works, and is set for release on May 21, 2021.
In 2017 a prequel series titled The Continental was in active development. The series will focus on the hotel chain that acts as a neutral ground for assassins, as opposed to the character John Wick.
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