Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5. USA, 2014. Thunder Road Pictures, 87Eleven, MJW Films, DefyNite Films, Company Films, Huayi Brothers Media, Poquito Productions, Unbelievable Entertainment. Screenplay by Derek Kolstad. Cinematography by Jonathan Sela. Produced by Basil Iwanyk, David Leitch, Eva Longoria. Music by Tyler Bates, Joel J. Richard. Production Design by Dan Leigh. Costume Design by Luca Mosca. Film Editing by Elisabet Ronaldsdottir.
An efficient prologue gets us up to date on the experiences of our hero played by Keanu Reeves, a man living alone after the death of his wife from an undisclosed illness. Merely days after her passing, he receives a very adorable puppy that she had previously arranged to send him, and not long after that, the dog is murdered during a raid by a bunch of thugs who want to steal his car. What the bratty idiot who headed up the invasion doesn’t know is that he messed with the wrong guy, as Reeves is a former hit man who has ties to the killer’s Russian mob father (Michael Nyqvist). Now an entire underworld is preparing for the angry retaliation of a very talented fighter in a gorgeously shot and superbly edited film that whose perfect design escalates its stakes at all the right stages; this is an example of how action movies are supposed to be made, and it’s hard to remember when Reeves’ inability to sell dialogue mattered less. It’s also far too violent, but not senselessly so, providing an incredibly rich feeling of vengeance that flows through you as this man gets justice for his very cute companion.