I've said a number of embarrassing things about my love... well, appreciation of Keanu Reeves in this blog. I won't link, just look it up. Now that we've seen John Wick (2014) I feel that my feelings are justified. This is a good, hard-driving action movie.
Ms. Spenser went into this knowing nothing about it, and that might be the best, but it was spoilt for me, so I'll go ahead and spoil at least the first act. Keanu is John Wick, an ordinary guy who loses the love of his life to cancer. After she's gone, she sends him a beagle puppy to keep him company, and he begins to live again. But some Russian punk mobsters steal his hot Mustang and kill his puppy.
There, I said it. I knew it was coming, and was dreading it, dreading even more what Ms. Spenser would think - Ms. Spenser who has a dog that she loves very much. It is handled fairly sensitively, not dwelt on, but they make it clear that it is not in any way excusable. The car, he could overlook. Not the dog.
The twist turns out to be that Wick is a retired hitman, the best ever. So he resolutely, methodically and completely wipes out everyone who wronged his pup in acts 2-5. The action is sweet, cartoonish, yet realistic. For instance, he carefully puts an extra two rounds in everyone he kills. There is a good deal of hand-to-hand, and it looks like Keanu has been studying martial arts.
The world this takes place in is an odd kind of Mobland. After Keanu kills a batch of assassins in his house, a cop shows up at the door - with a noise complaint. He sees a body and says, "You working again?" Then leaves and tells him to keep the noise down. Keanu calls the special body disposal service and pays them with a gold coin. These coins are the "coin of the realm" in this world. You can buy entry to a mob nightclub or a stay in a neutral hotel that forbids "business" on the premises. It's not too obtrusive - not like Sin City or something - but a touch surreal.
It had a great, almost art film look, with rain, smoke, and neon. It had good action - Keanu can really move. He still has a kind of limited range of emotions - suffering, pissed off, blank (or stoic?) - but that's about all he needed for this type of movie.
In conclusion, Keanu Reeves is no longer a guilty pleasure, just a pleasure.