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‘John Wick: Chapter 2’ (review)

Produced by Basil Iwanyk, Erica Lee
Written by Derek Kolstad
Based on Characters by Derek Kolstad
Directed by Chad Stahelski
Starring Keanu Reeves, Common,
Laurence Fishburne, Riccardo Scamarcio,
Ruby Rose, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane,
Bridget Moynahan, Lance Reddick,
Thomas Sadoski, David Patrick Kelly,
Peter Stormare, Franco Nero,
Peter Serafinowicz, Claudia Gerini

 

John Wick: Chapter 2 is the sequel to the 2014 sleeper hit, starring Keanu Reeves, that I wanted and that we all deserve.

In the first film, John Wick, played by Reeves, must avenge his dog and car after one was killed and the other stolen respectively. In doing so he winds up taking out the entire Russian mafia in New York City in one of the most beautiful displays of destruction and death put to cinema.

In this next and even more insane chapter, Wick is once again driven out of retirement when a “marker” he owes is called in by a trusted colleague. The task he is required to do is a “catch-22” though. To refuse means death in this world of honorable killers and to accept means to betray the very honor his work and reputation relies on to live.

What unfolds is pure magic.

 

A bullet ballet. A tour-de-force of headshots and broken bones that will leave you feeling like John Woo and the action films that have preceded it were the Revenge of the Ninja and “Golan-Globus action films of the 80’s. That is to say that this is a proverbial adrenaline-filled, kinetic masterpiece of death and destruction that makes watching Twitch streams of Call of Duty play-throughs seem like episodes of M*A*S*H.

Written as a trilogy, the John Wick series, so far, has been one of the best visceral, internal screaming, joyrides I have experienced in a long time. The writer/director team of Derek Kolstad and Chad Stahelski definitely have a vision and the chops to execute it. The visuals, as I have mentioned are stunning and there is an underlying humor that I love. This film doesn’t take itself too seriously while allowing the genre it so fervently relies on to be respected.

The gunfights are mind blowing but it was actually the close quarter combat jujitsu and other fighting styles that really make this action film shine. Mixing it up and really pushing the limits of what the human body can do, I feel like this is what the 2002 film Equilibrium wanted to achieve in a way. I believe they coined the phrase “Gun-Fu”. Well it has been fully realized in John Wick: Chapter 2.

This second chapter of the Wick series is a little more plot oriented and not just “you stole my car and killed my dog now I have to kill everyone”. There are some much needed breaks in the violence to propel the basic story along. Look, this film isn’t going to be winning any awards for screenwriting and story telling. What it does is it has revitalized a genre that has been a little tepid recently and has fun doing it.

The returning cast featuring Ian McShane, Lance Reddick, John Leguizamo, David Patrick Kelly and Bridget Moynahan are all still brilliant and the new cast members including, Common, Laurence Fishburne, Claudia Gerini, and Riccardo Scamarcio are all perfect. My only disappointment in the cast was the underutilization and waste of Ruby Rose as Ares, the mute assassin/bodyguard to Riccardo Scamarcio’s bad guy, Santino. I really wish they had done more with her character. She wasn’t as wasted as Adrianne Palicki in the first but I had hoped for a more substantial opposite female operative to Wick in this installment. There is always Chapter 3.

If you like action, if you are a fan of the first John Wick then you will not be disappointed in this next installment of the trilogy. The only thing I am trying to figure out is how they plan on ending this series because to top they are going to basically have to make “John Wick Kills Everyone” in Chapter 3 and all I can say is “Bring it on”.

 

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