John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

  • Time: 122 min
  • Genre: Action | Crime | Thriller
  • Director: Chad Stahelski
  • Cast: Keanu Reeves, Thomas Sadoski, Ruby Rose


After returning to the criminal underworld to repay a debt, John Wick discovers that a large bounty has been put on his life.

2 reviews

  • John Wick: Chapter 2 is pedal to the metal from the get-go. With an economy of exposition that other franchise directors would do well to replicate, the excellent follow-up to 2014’s surprise hit reminds audiences why its title hero is the man, the myth, the legend, the assassin that all other assassins fear. Before the title credits appear, Keanu Reeves’ Wick has chased, been chased, crashed his beloved 1969 black Mustang into numerous Russian mobsters, been crashed into and thrown from his car, and engaged in several bone-crushing beatdowns before brokering a truce with Peter Stormare’s Abram, uncle to the nephew who killed Wick’s dog, setting off the events in the first film that resurrected the retired killing machine.

    Though not intended to be a franchise, the first film had smartly established a well-defined yet mysterious world, with the Continental and its namesake hotel as its niftiest creations. A fraternity of stylishly clad killers bound to a gentleman’s code, the New York chapter is revealed to be but one part of an international organisation. The Continental takes its rules very seriously and two, in particular, are sacrosanct: “No blood on Continental grounds” and “Every marker must be honoured.” The former is often the cause for the film’s most amusing moments as hardcore killers suddenly have to behave like civilised men with one another, often mere moments after they have been pummeling each other senseless. The latter serves as Chapter Two’s narrative engine.

    Wick has been re-retired for all of a couple of hours when he’s pulled back into the life by Italian crime heir Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scarmacio, whose delightful Eurosmarm suggests he might have lived a previous life as a Caravaggio rent boy), who had helped Wick pull off the “impossible task” that allowed Wick to break from the organisation and live a happy life with his now-deceased wife Helen (Bridget Moynahan, seen in flashbacks). Now Santino wants to call in his marker by having Wick assassinate his sister Gianna (Claudia Gerini) so that he can rightfully claim his place as the head of the Camorra family at the High Table, a council of international super-assassins. “I’m not that guy anymore,” Wick demurs. “You’re always that guy,” Santino responds and ensures that Wick is forced to be that guy by burning down his house after Wick refuses the job.

    If the motivation for Wick to revive his homicidal tendencies is less compelling here than it was in the first film, it’s offset by an even more relentless barrage of action scenes that returning director Chad Stahelski directs with impressive panache. The action scenes are staged against starkly white subway stations accented by fuchsia fluorescent tubes; the tunnels of a Roman catacomb lit by gauzy blue spotlights and epileptic emanations from flashlights; and an elaborate hall of mirrors museum exhibit that takes its influence from Orson Welles’ The Lady from Shanghai, amongst other films. A former stuntman, Stahelski has a superb understanding of how to stage within a space and the hand-to-hand combat and gunfire are often executed in frighteningly close proximity. In many respects, this is the first person shooter film that Hardcore Henry aspired and failed to be.

    As with the first film, Stahelski finds moments amidst the combat to insert humour, whether it be Wick pinning down an opponent as he reloads his weapon, Wick and Common’s Cassian throwing each other and rolling down a ridiculously long flight of Roman steps, he and Cassian sneaking muffled gun shots at each other in a crowded train station, or the montage that reveals exactly how extensive the Continental’s reach is as Wick encounters an assassin seemingly around every corner once a bounty is put on his head.

    Chapter Two ends on a chilling note that stokes anticipation for a sure-to-be third film. Wick appears to have nowhere to hide and no one to trust, but he makes a promise that he is sure to keep: he will kill any and all comers. And we will be there to enjoy the bloodbath.

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  • His name is Johnathan “John” Wick and yup, he’s back! John Wick: Chapter 2 (my latest review) is a movie that lives in a world all its own. It’s that underground world filled with lustrous images, hidden crime, and 50’s-style telephone operators. “Chapter 2” also cements Keanu Reeves as one of the best action stars on the planet. He’s up there with Liam Neeson, Denzel Washington and my personal favorite, Mel Gibson. I remember seeing “The One” in 1991’s Point Break and wondering if he could take on the role of action hero and veritable butt kicker. I haven’t wondered for some time for he’s done it in a steadily manner over the past 26 years.

    So OK, Keanu’s martial arts moves in The Matrix were a little stiff. And yes, he’s not exactly the acting caliber of Daniel Day-Lewis. No matter. It’s a whole new spiel now. Reeves using minimal dialogue and beholding a overly seething screen presence, is almost synonymous with intimidating dudes you don’t wanna mess with. In “Chapter 2” he dons a slick suit and spotty beard, loads and reloads a P30 faster than a jack rabbit, and eliminates gun-toting baddies like a champ. His John Wick: Chapter 2 is an exercise in style and its violence is like ballet, poetry, or birds in flight. Oh yeah, this “wick” burns through and through.

    Now in 2014, I did give the first John Wick a mixed review. I said that it didn’t add anything fresh to the action thriller genre. With John Wick: Chapter 2, I almost went the same route until I viewed “Chapter 2’s” final shootout sequence. Heck, I don’t know director Chad Stahelski from Adam but I’m pretty sure he paid homage to Bruce Lee and Lee’s mirror fight scene from Enter the Dragon. Stahelski’s interpretation of the last ten minutes of “Chapter 2”, is a real humdinger. It single- handedly makes for a superior sequel which is a rare thing.

    As for John Wick: Chapter 2’s diegesis, well it’s different from what transpired in the original John Wick. This time, it’s not about Keanu’s trouper getting revenge on some Russian gangsters who kill his dog and take his kick ass ride (a Boss 429 Mustang). And this time, the proceedings are even more violent, more bloody, and more smash-mouth. “Chapter 2’s” story involves Jonathan being coerced back into the hit-man life. First, he has to assassinate an Italian crime lord’s sister and then, Wick has to dodge every other professional killer because he has a $7 million dollar contract on his head. Be on the lookout for more tantalizing subtitles (from the first installment) and Stahelski’s standard and forthright camera-work. He may be the antithetical Paul Greengrass. Also, look for a couple of scenes where Keanu Reeves is reunited with his wise old co-star from The Matrix Trilogy (Mr. Laurence Fishburne). Aw, it feels so good.

    All in all, I honestly don’t think plot matters in glitzy, neo-noir flicks such as John Wick: Chapter 2. It’s more about the bullets flying, the techno music in the background, the hand-to-hand combat, and director Chad Stahelski using white background colors (in a subway station) to show an audience what real blood spattering looks like. As “Chapter 2” concludes, the film clearly leaves the door open for a third go-around. Keanu’s Wick quips in future tense, “whoever comes, I’ll kill them all.” Dang, I can’t wait. Rating: 3 and a half stars.

    Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars

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