Review: John Wick: Chapter 2

John Wick: Chapter 2
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PLOT: An old debt sends John Wick (Keanu Reeves) to Rome, where a high-level assassination ends with him in the cross-hairs of any killer interested in collecting a $7 million bounty.

REVIEW: The first JOHN WICK was an action fan’s dream, and one which took many of us by surprise. No one would have expected co-directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, who relied heavily on their stunt choreography backgrounds, to mount a modestly budgeted programmer that would outshine movies with multiple times its budget and become a cult classic. Star Keanu Reeves in particular seemed re-energized by the heavy-duty physical part, his most demanding since THE MATRIX. With Leitch now directing DEADPOOL 2, it’s been left to Stahelski to craft a worthy follow-up, and the sequel does not disappoint. It does what a good follow-up does - it expands on the universe from the first film.

The chief difference here is that Wick isn’t specifically out for vengeance. Rather, a blood oath he made to a mobster (Riccardo Scamarcio) comes back to haunt him when the former friend demands Wick eliminate his sister to give him full reigns to the family empire. Wick does what he has to do, lest he cross Winston (Ian McShane), whose “Continental” network guaranteed the debt. Obviously, things go awry, with Wick eventually having to deal with a huge bounty on his head that has dozens of top killers out gunning for him.

While the new baddie played by Scamarcio is familiar, he does his job, which is to pave the way for a bigger confrontation we’re teased with towards the end. While JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 does suffer from IRON MAN 2 syndrome a tiny bit, in that it’s setting up something bigger, the film itself is so wildly entertaining that you won’t care. As in the first, Stahelskis made this a particularly pretty film, with gorgeous neon visuals from Dan Laustsen, very much on the same style of his work with Guillermo Del Toro. The action is expanded, with Wick traveling to Rome, where he takes shelter with the Italian branch of the Continental, run, in a neat cameo, by legendary action star Franco Nero.

Most of the action takes place in NYC, with a recognizable Montreal standing in for it at various times. While the first one got millage out of delaying the action until sometime into the film, making the twist that Wick was a much-feared hit-man a surprise (at least to those who never saw a trailer or a poster), the sequel gets the mayhem started right away as Wick tries to recover his beloved Mustang. Peter Stormare contributes a fun cameo as the cousin of the baddie in the first film, terrified that Wick has come to get him - as his reputation is so fierce.

The action is huge, adopting a THE RAID 2 style of bigger is better, with more and more baddies for Reeves to take on. There’s a special thrill of seeing Reeves in the part, as he’s clearly doing his own choreography, and really going into the part wholeheartedly. If there’s anything disappointing, it’s that his MATRIX co-star Laurence Fishburne doesn’t get much to do in a non-action part. The fights are pretty impressive, especially whenever Reeves is pitted against Common, who plays a rival killer. The two have a particularly good subway car showdown, and scenes like this easily equal anything in the first.

In fact Stahelski comes close to topping the original in what seems to be a tribute to THE PINK PANTHER STRIKES AGAIN, where dozens of assassins trip over themselves trying to eliminate their target, although unlike Inspector Clouseau, Wick kills all of his enemies. Running an even two hours, JOHN WICK CHAPTER 2 gives fans what they want as far as a sequel goes, with more, obviously, to come. It’s a fun franchise film that doesn’t take itself too seriously and wholehearted embraces an R-rated aesthetic that’s increasingly rare these days.

Source: JoBlo.com



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