Imagine the sprawling & cynical political bite of John Le Carre’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy filtered through the pulpy hyper-reality of the John Wick movies and starring Charlize Theron as James Bond: that is Atomic Blonde.
John Wick is a criminal underworld fantasy that merges inventive and crisp action sequences on to heightened world-building that evokes the works of Walter Hill and Sergio Leone, elevating what could have been a generic shoot-em-up into one of the more fully realized genre flicks in recent memory. The premise is simple: recent widower John Wick (embodied by a coldly swaggering Keanu Reeves), is on a bloody mission of revenge after his time grieving for his wife is interrupted by a home invasion that leaves his puppy dead and his car stolen. Co-directed by veteran stuntmen David Leitch and Chad Stahelski (founders of the 87Eleven Action Design stunt workshop & studio), John Wick reconfigures choice pieces of genre fiction and action movies past to create their own unique contribution to the genre. It’s a remarkably self-confident film whose paper-thin premise and setup actually work in its favor as a tight and functional connective thread stringing together the whole picture.