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March 25, 2015
John Wick Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
30/10/20144/3/2015Village RoadshowChad Stahelski
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD MA 5.1MA15+Keanu Reeves

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Keanu Reeves as John Wick.

Keanu Reeves isn't an actor who receives a lot of praise for his films, but we don't know why. Sure he started out with the goofy Bill and Ted films, but in recent years has starred in films such as The Matrix Trilogy, A Scanner Darkly, Street Kings and 47 Ronin. This latest release, John Wick, is without doubt one of his strongest films to date.

When sadistic young thugs senselessly attack John Wick – a brilliantly lethal ex-assassin – they have no idea that they've just awakened the boogeyman. With New York City as his bullet-riddled playground, Wick embarks on a merciless rampage, hunting down his adversaries with the skill and ruthlessness that made him an underworld legend.

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Willem Dafoe as the assassin Marcus.
Admittedly this film's story is a little lightweight - it's pretty much just a revenge tale with few plot twists but plenty of action. That leaves Keanu Reeves to carry the film and be a credible action hero and, you know what, he actually pulls it off quite aptly. With a background in martial arts and action films, as well as professional training, he actually not only suits the role, but is believable as an assassin. Indeed, this is one of his best performances to date.

Fortunately it's not just Keanu Reeves that impresses in this film with a very strong supporting cast also putting in great performances. Michael Nyqvist (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) is superb as Viggo while his son Iosef is played by Theon Greyjoy from Game of Thrones - actor Alfie Allen. Other well-known actors making an appearance in this film include John Leguizamo, Ian McShane, Willem Dafoe, and Adrianne Palicki.

John Wick is a cracker action film and provided more fun than we've had with a film for quite some time. While the plot is a little simplistic, the wonderful action sequences and solid performances makes this a film worth checking out.

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Now that's a real muscle car.
Retaining the films' original 2.40:1 aspect ratio there is no doubt that this AVC MPEG-4 encoded transfer is quite spectacular with the transfer retaining a fantastic level of detail even in the many darker scenes which are numerous throughout the film. When the film moves to brightly lit scenes the transfer shines even more. At the 43:10 mark John moves towards a bar which is lit with bright green lights and it looks simply wonderful as his and the bar womans skin is illuminated while moments later the camera is focused on the band which is lit with brilliant red lights.

Many of the scenes in the film have a coloured tint to them which may look odd but are as the filmmaker intended and aren't a fault of the transfer. If we were to pick a slight fault it's that on some rare occasions the transfer isn't quite a sharp as one would expect with some light compression and ringing artifacts present.

Our release of John Wick includes a lossless English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 which is a reference quality experience. While the dialogue is crystal clear, it's when the action heats up that the sound field really comes to life be it with the roar of a car engine, the cracking of gunfire or crunch of a punch or kick. Not only do the surround sound channels come to life, but your sub-woofer will also get a workout with plenty of bass which is no more evident then from the 44:14 mark when John Wick goes to the nightclub which provides plenty of thumping music.

If we are to pick a slight disappointment it's that the American release of this film includes a Dolby Atmos mix - which with the lack of hardware around would mean most would "only" get a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 audio experience but that would still be an upgrade on the 5.1 sound provided on this disc.

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John Wick with a final gift from his wife.
The only other track on this disc is an Audio Description for the Vision Impaired Dolby Digital 2.0 at 224kbps which is adequate, but disappointingly lacking surround sound which adds so much to this film while the John Wick Blu-Ray only features a single subtitle track - an English Descriptive Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired which from our sampling was accurate to the on-screen dialogue.

Starting the John Wick Blu-Ray presents you with trailers for Good People and A Most Violent Year. As for features related to the feature film there are a few on the disc...

Audio Commentary: Directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch provide an insightful audio commentary which discusses creating the film, the sets and actors as expected. There is plenty of detail here (including the fact early on that the original cut of the film was 2 hours 20 minutes), and it's worth a listen.

Don't F*ck With John Wick (15:17/HD): This great little feature focuses on Keanu Reeves and the training he undertook to play the role of John Wick and includes martial arts, stunt car driving and gunplay.

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Some scenes are intentionally coloured.
Calling In The Cavalry (11:58/HD): With footage from the cast script reading, on-set footage and cast and crew interviews this is interesting enough for a look.

Destiny of a Collective (6:20/HD): This featurette focuses on the directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch and the creation of their first film together.

The Assassin's Code (5:16/HD): Short and EPKish this featurette focuses on the code which the Assassin's adhere to including their safe house. This gives away a bit too much of the film - including a critical death - so make sure you watch it after seeing the film.

The Red Circle (6:27/HD): The Red Circle is the Russian nightclub and baths and this featurette looks at filming the action sequences in these two locations.

N.Y.C Noir (6:00/HD): New York City is the location for this film and here the filmmakers discuss using the film as the setting, and filming there.

John Wick is a fantastic film which action fans will very much enjoy. The Blu-Ray provides a great audio- visual experience while the bonus content is worth your time as well. This is one Blu-Ray to add to your collection.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyright© Village Roadshow. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.