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John Wick is a 2014 American action thriller film directed by Chad Stahelski and written by Derek Kolstad. The film follows John Wick (Keanu Reeves), a legendary hitman who is forced out of retirement to seek revenge against the men who killed his puppy, a final gift from his recently deceased wife. John Wick also stars Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Adrianne Palicki, Bridget Moynahan, Dean Winters, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, and Willem Dafoe.
Kolstad's script drew on his interest in action, revenge, and neo noir films. Titled Scorn, the rights were purchased by producer Basil Iwanyk as his first independent film production. Reeves, who was experiencing a career lull, liked the script and recommended experienced stunt and action choreographers, Stahelski and David Leitch direct the action scenes. Instead, the pair successfully lobbied to co-direct John Wick. Despite the project nearly being cancelled weeks prior to filming, principal photography began on October 7, 2013, on a $20–$30 million budget. Stahelski and Leitch focused on highly-choreographed, long single takes to convey their action, eschewing the rapid cuts and closeup shots of contemporary action films. Iwanyk struggled to secure theatrical distributors, as industry executives were dismissive of an action film by first-time directors and Reeves's recent filmography had underperformed. The distribution rights were eventually purchased by Lionsgate and a release date scheduled only two months later for October 24, 2014.
The marketing campaign was seen as a success, changing the perception of John Wick as disposable entertainment to a prestige event helmed by an affable leading actor. The film exceeded box office projections, earning $86 million worldwide, becoming a modest success, and earned generally positive reviews for its style and action sequences. It was hailed as a comeback for Reeves, the John Wick character playing to his strengths as an actor. The film's mythology of a criminal underworld with specific rituals and rules was also praised as the film's most unique and interesting feature.
John Wick is now considered one of the greatest action films ever made. Its unexpected success led to the John Wick franchise, one of the most successful action franchises, which comprises three sequels, John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017), John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (2019), and John Wick: Chapter 4 (2023), as well as video games and comic books. The franchise includes the upcoming spin-off film Ballerina and television series The Continental. John Wick has been influential on action films. It is seen as having revitalized the genre, popularizing long single takes with choreographed and detailed action.