John Wick is a 2014 American action thriller film directed by Chad Stahelski and David Leitch. Starring Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Adrianne Palicki, Bridget Moynahan, Dean Winters, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, and Willem Dafoe, the film is centered on John Wick, a retired hitman seeking vengeance for the killing of his dog. Stahelski and Leitch, both of 87Eleven Productions, directed the film together as a team, though Leitch was uncredited. It was written by Derek Kolstad who 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, and the film’s use of fight choreographers and gun fu techniques from Hong Kong action cinemawas additionally influential in the development of the piece. As well as prominently paying homage to works such as John Woo‘s The Killer, Jean-Pierre Melville‘s Le Cercle Rouge and Le Samouraï, John Boorman‘sPoint Blank, and the spaghetti western subgenre of Western films.
John Wick received positive reviews from critics and audiences. Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports that the film holds an 83% approval rating, based on 152 reviews, with an average score of 6.8/10. The site’s 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 67 (out of 100) based on 36 reviews from mainstream critics, considered to be “generally favorable”. CinemaScore reported that audiences gave the film a “B” grade.
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone praised the piece by stating, “John Wick is the kind of fired-up, ferocious B-movie fun some of us can’t get enough of.” He continued by praising the “juicy performances” from Dafoe, Leguizamo, and McShane as “ample compensation”, additionally with Stahelski’s ability to direct with “a flair for movement and framing that slams you right into the fights, stabbings and shoot-outs.” 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.” while praising Dafoe and McShane’s performances.