JOHN WICK  (2014)

ROLE:  Russian mobster Viggo Tarasov

GENRE: Action Adventure Thriller


US RELEASE: October 24, 2014


When a retired hit man is forced back into action by a brutal Russian mobster, he hunts down his adversaries with the ruthlessness that made him a crime underworld legend. After the sudden death of his beloved wife, John Wick receives one last gift from her, a beagle puppy named Daisy and a note imploring him not to forget how to love. But John's mourning is interrupted when his 1969 Boss Mustang catches the eye of sadistic thug Iosef Tarasov. When John refuses to sell the car, Iosef and his henchmen break into his house and steal it, beating John unconscious and leaving Daisy dead. Unwittingly, they have just reawakened one of the most brutal assassins the underworld has ever seen.

John’s search for his stolen vehicle takes him to a side of New York City that tourists never see, a hyper- real, super-secret criminal community, where John Wick was once the baddest guy of all. After learning that his attacker is the only son of a former associate, vicious Russian crime boss Viggo Tarasov, John turns his attention to vengeance. As word spreads that the legendary hit man is after his son, Viggo offers a generous bounty to anyone who can bring John down.

With a veritable army on his trail, John once again becomes the remorseless killing machine the underworld once feared, launching a pitched battle against Viggo and his soldiers that could mean the end of them both.

Film Details

Keanu Reeves - John Wick
Michael Nyqvist - Viggo Tarasov
Alfie Allen - Iosef Tarasov
Willem Dafoe - Marcus
Adrianne Palicki - Ms. Perkins
Ian McShane - Winston
John Leguizamo - Aurelio
Dean Winters - Avi

* * * * *

Directors - Chad Stahelski & David Leitch
Screenplay - Derek Kolstad
Cinematography - Jonathan Sela
Music - Tyler Bates & Joel J. Richards

101 minutes

* * * * *

Interview with Michael

Interview with Alfie Allen & Michael

View trailer

Production Notes:

Filming began on October 14, 2013 in NYC and nearby Rockland County.

Director Chad Stahelski - "We went through so many meetings to cast the role of Viggo. But Michael brought something very odd and interesting. He came at it from a really different angle. His quirkiness is a good match for Keanu’s stoicism."

Michael: "I found the relationship between John and Viggo to be interesting. Viggo has always liked John because he was brilliant at his job. They have the kind of love and respect you might see between a father and son, but it breaks down when John comes for Iosef."

Publicity Stills


Film comments

"The coolest thing about it really is the violence. Whether Wick is taking out people at a thudding nightclub, a rain-drenched dock, or a neon-lit bathhouse, everything is presented with a crispness lacking from most lazily cut shaky-cam action movies these days. And there's the refreshing, oddball sense of humor, down to the world-building and Nyqvist's engagingly big performance." ...David Sims, The Atlantic

"Nyqvist, the star of the Swedish Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, brings a little twinkle to the otherwise stock Russian villain, and Willem Dafoe, Adrianne Palicki, and Ian McShane are fun condiments on the underworld smorgasbord."    ...Robert Horton, Seattle Weekly

"The dialogue is stripped-back and thrifty, with the high-calibre cast left to imbue it with humour, menace, whatever - a simple 'Oh' from the fabulous Nyqvist, for example, is one of the funniest moments." ...Emma Simmonds, The Arts Desk

"The supporting acts each react to Wick’s presence in various, often ambiguous ways, all superbly cast, from Nyqvist as a satisfying caricature, old-school Soviet gangster, Viggo Tarasov, Willem Dafoe as fellow contract killer, Marcus, and Ian McShane as Winston, the shady but wise resident ‘godfather’ at The Continental. Alfie Allen offers the biggest surprise, as the cocky, sadistic Iosef (Tarasov Junior), almost unrecognisable in the part." ...Lisa Giles-Keddie,

"John Wick, the retired hit man Reeves is playing, is well-named. He is dormant dynamite, keeping well away from naked flames, and has been ever since a deal with Russian mob boss Viggo (Michael Nyqvist, beautifully bitter) allowed him to step back from the killing game." ...Tim Robey, The Telegraph

"As the Russian mob boss Viggo, Nyqvist plays a gangster that knows he’s going up against unspeakable odds when challenging John Wick. The closer we get to the end of the film, the more unhinged Viggo becomes. It’s such a wonderfully disarming performance that you’re almost disappointed by the inevitable conclusion." ...Brian Walton,

"Nyqvist gets as much screen time - and way more dialogue - than Reeves, and he's excellent." ...C.J. Johnson, ABC radio, Australia

"Reeves is well cast as the implacable, unstoppable John Wicks, and Nyqvist is outstanding as the wily Viggo. There are some nice darkly comic moments (trust me about that 'Oh,' and a later reprise), but this is all about the stunts, and as pure adrenaline action fodder, this movie delivers the goods." ...Nell Minow,

"A hot tub gunfight echoes Viggo Mortensen’s steam room fight in Eastern Promises, but Reeves is about half the tough guy of Mortensen. Swede Michael Nyqvist is great as elder Russian mob boss Viggo (a nod to Viggo in Promises?), producing the best performance in the movie. Perhaps it is because Nyqvist is graced with a better part (the bad guys always get the best parts) or perhaps it is because he simply refuses to play the part straight, instead bringing a sardonic, dark humor to bear on his dual roles of heartless mob boss and frustrated father." ...Ron Wilkinson, Monsters & Critics

"Stealing the movie, however, is Nyqvist. I wouldn't call him 'chilling,' except in the sense that all Russians in the Age of Putin apparently are, but he brings a mordant sense of humor to a role that could easily have been a stock Big Bad." ...Pete Vonder Haar, Houston Press

"The supporting cast is nicely eclectic, with Michael Nyqvist providing a villain who is more urbane that the usual frothing-at-the-mouth bad guy and Adrianne Palicki adding a little black widow sex appeal." ...James Berardinelli, Reel Views

"Nyqvist is terrific as Viggo, resigned once his hand's been forced." ...Laura Clifford, Reeling Reviews

"The only actor with room to breath is Michael Nyqvist, star of the original The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo films, who shines as the vicious but believably human mob boss who grows increasingly, hilariously incredulous at Wick’s refusal to die. More than any other actor in the film, he seems to have grasped the vibe of the film, which is just ridiculous enough for its own good." ...Stephen Danay, Under the Radar

"Along the way to the inevitable showdown—or series of showdowns, actually—other colorful characters appear. The most notable, after Viggo, played suavely by Nyqvist, with an undercurrent of menace just below the surface—is Marcus (the ever-reliable Willem Dafoe), a sharpshooting old colleague of John’s whose motives in the ensuing mayhem remain mysterious for a while." ...Frank Swietek, One Guy's Opinion

"Unfortunately, Adrianne Palicki fails to make much of an impression as a beautiful assassin who becomes a somewhat forgettable femme fatale, and Alfie Allen’s accent is all over the place as the Russian kid who causes all the trouble in the first place. Far better is Michael Nyqvist as his father. The Swedish actor made his name as the star of the original Girl With the Dragon Tattoo flicks, and here he delivers a hilariously deadpan performance and steals pretty much every scene that he’s in, most notably when he delivers what may well be the greatest ‘Oh’ in movie history." ...Chris Tilly,