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John Wick: Chapter 2 Review

February 13, 2017 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
John Wick Chapter 2
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John Wick: Chapter 2 Review  

John Wick: Chapter 2 Review

Keanu Reeves– John Wick
Riccardo Scamarcio– Santino D’Antonio
Ian McShane– Winston
Ruby Rose– Ares
Common– Cassian
Claudia Gerini– Gianna D’Antonio
Lance Reddick– Charon
Larry Fishburne– The Bowery King
Franco Nero– Julius
Bridget Moynahan– Helen
Peter Stormare– Abram
Peter Serafinowicz– Sommelier
John Leguizamo– Aurelio

Directed by Chad Stahelski
Screenplay by Derek Kolstad

Distributed by Summit Entertainment and Lionsgate

Rated R for strong violence throughout, language, and alleged brief nudity
Runtime– 122 minutes

Website: http://www.johnwick.movie/

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John Wick: Chapter 2, directed by Chad Stahelski, is the kind of action movie the world always needs. Chock full of breathtaking, bone crunching hand-to-hand fight sequences, gun battles, and overwhelming badassery, Chapter 2 shows us that the action movie, when done correctly, can be a thing of true beauty. The movie likely won’t be all that impressive to people who aren’t into movies where people are repeatedly shot in the face at close range, but then those people clearly have problems that entertainment has no hope of solving.

The movie once again stars Keanu Reeves as John Wick, the lethal assassin who just wants to leave the assassin world and live a quiet life in his fabulous house with his dog. After retrieving his stolen muscle car from the terrified Russian mobster Abram (the great Peter Stormare), killing a bunch of henchmen, and engaging in car combat that basically destroys the car he just got back, Wick buries his assassin gear in his basement and tries, once again, to live a quiet life. But then Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio), an Italian mobster of some sort, shows up at Wick’s house to ask for his services. Due to some “assassin’s code/criminal underworld rules” hooey involving a debt owed and a fancy marker, Wick is obliged to repay his debt to Santino. Wick, though, doesn’t want to participate, even if he is obliged by the code to follow through. So then Santino blows up Wick’s house, destroying everything inside of it, including several pictures of his dead wife Helen (Bridget Moynahan). Naturally, this pisses Wick off, and Wick decides to go kick Santino’s ass. Wick tracks Santino to the Continental, the swanky hotel that caters to members of the criminal underworld. While at the Continental Wick talks with Winston (Ian McShane), the hotel manager who seems to know all of the rules that the criminal underworld is meant to follow. Wick finds out that, because of the rules, Wick has to follow through and honor his marker to Santino. If Wick doesn’t, Wick’s life will be “forfeited.” So Wick agrees to accept Santino’s marker and do whatever the heck it is Santino wants him to do.

And what, exactly, does Santino want him to do? Santino wants Wick to go to Rome and eliminate his sister Gianna D’Antonio (Claudia Gerini) so he can obtain a seat at “the table,” which is where the major criminal organizations of the world meet to hash out what the criminal underworld is doing/wants to do. Wick is baffled by the request, as it’s very difficult to kill the head of a criminal organization (they tend to have the best people surrounding them), but, since he has to follow the rules, Wick goes to Rome to do the job. After arriving at the Rome version of the Continental, where he meets the Italian version of Winston (and that would be Julius, as played by the Franco Nero), gets several new tailored suits, and meets with the voice of Darth Maul (Peter Serafinowicz) to get new weaponry. Wick in on his own in Rome and he’s going to need the best stuff to take out Gianna and her henchmen and whoever else decides to get in his way. Wick may be the most revered assassin in the world, the ultimate killer and scary badass, but he knows that bad stuff can happen to you if you’re not prepared. And so Wick gets prepared.

So then some stuff happens, Wick sets up how he’s going to get at Gianna, Gianna shows up at a weird beard outdoor concert, and Wick kills her after she strips off her clothes, gets into a pool, and starts stabbing her own wrists. It’s at this point that Gianna’s bodyguard, Cassian (Common), realizes what the hell is going on and springs into action. Shots are fired, Wick starts killing people left and right, and all hell breaks loose. It’s also at this point that Wick, and the audience, realize that Santino has been watching Wick since he arrived in Rome via his mute henchwoman Ares (Ruby Rose, who just a few weeks ago was sent through a giant fan in Resident Evil: The Final Chapter) and that once Wick completes his mission Santino wants Wick dead. It’s called “tying up loose ends.”

So then some more stuff happens, Wick and Cassian have an epic gunfight/street brawl that will live forever on YouTube, and we end up back at the Continental. Because “business” cannot be conducted on Continental grounds, Wick and Cassian have a discussion and Cassian vows revenge. It’s to be expected, since Cassian failed at his job protecting his principal Gianna. Wick understands and decides to go back home to New York City. He can’t stay in Rome forever.

So Wick heads back to NYC, finds out that Santino has put a contract on Wick’s life for big bucks that has gone out to everyone involved in the criminal underworld, and suddenly Wick is fighting for his life. Multiple fights and attacks ensue, including one with Cassian and silenced handguns that is freaking brilliant and one with a pencil that should also live forever on YouTube. How the heck is Wick going to get out of this predicament?

The rest of the movie is basically one long action sequence broken up by a little meeting with homeless mafia head the Bowery King (the one, the only Larry Fishburne) where Wick actually finds an ally. Sort of.

The gun fights and hand-to-hand brawls are all brutal and thrilling. Watching Wick in action, taking out multiple bad guys, shooting most of them in the head or face, is what great action movies are all about. You can actually see what’s happening, which is something you rarely see in modern, big budget action flicks. The gunplay looks “realistic” in that no one is flying around on wires, something you also rarely see nowadays outside of the direct-to-video action movie world (and even that place is chock full of people flying around and shit). Wick’s Italian shotgun is a thing of beauty (he shoots a guy in the head with that shotgun and we get to see it on screen). Some people may complain about how Wick is essentially invincible, but then that’s just bullshit. Wick can get hurt (check out that pencil scene again), but he’s also supposed to be the best assassin in the world. Why would he be taken out by some random henchman?

The car chase/car combat sequence at the beginning of the movie is great because, even if it’s enhanced by CGI, it doesn’t look ridiculous.

Reeves is clearly the star of the story and he makes the biggest impression on the audience and the story. John Wick is a terrific action movie character and Reeves knows how to make him standout (it’s in the way he stands. Even his weird dialogue reading makes the character standout). Reeves also looks great in the various gun and fighting sequences. He isn’t a martial artist but he certainly knows how to sort of look like one. You will be in awe of his performance. Days later I still am.

The supporting cast is excellent and works well with Reeves. Both McShane and Nero are stern but elegant and act exactly how you would expect people running a worldwide criminal underworld hotel chain to act. Lance Reddick’s hotel front desk man Charon shows up again and helps Wick out by taking in his dog. Larry Fishburne’s Bowery King is fun because he’s clearly having the time of his life playing around with his old buddy Neo from The Matrix. And Riccardo Scamarcio is perfectly sleazy as Santino. Just a total scumbag (he blows up John Wick’s house! Who the hell does that?).

Common does a great job as Cassian. He can go with Reeves in the action scenes, and if and when they make a John Wick: Chapter 3 it’ll be interesting to see what happens with him then. And Ruby Rose is cool as hell as Ares. She’s actually kind of terrifying in some scenes. Watch that scene in the mirror room. Some of her facial expressions will give you momentary goosebumps.

John Leguizamo shows up, briefly, as Aurelio the underworld mechanic (I’d imagine he’ll be back for a part 3). Imdb claims that David Patrick “Luther” Kelly is in the movie again as Charlie, but I don’t remember seeing him. And Claudia Gerini gives an interesting performance as Gianna, but is her big disrobing scene the reason the movie, as part of its “R” rating, has “brief nudity?” Since when is the back and hip of a naked woman nudity? Is there murky nipple in an overhead shot of the pool that her character dies in? I don’t get it.

And that’s really the only “issue” with John Wick: Chapter 2. Where the heck is the brief nudity? The rest of the movie, the bulk of the movie, is action movie heaven. And with the way the movie ends, man, it looks like we’ll be in for even more action movie heaven if and when a Chapter 3 happens. And a John Wick: Chapter 3 must happen.

The world doesn’t need a John Wick TV show, at least not yet. The world needs more John Wick cinema. And that’s why you absolutely need to go see John Wick: Chapter 2. A must see on every conceivable level. A modern masterpiece. Superior to its predecessor. It’s what the world needs.

See John Wick: Chapter 2. See it, see it, goddamn see it!

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So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: I don’t have an exact number, but if it’s less than fifty I’d be shocked.

Explosions: Multiple, big and small.

Nudity?: The MPAA seems to think there’s nudity in this movie but I didn’t see any.

Doobage: A pretty sweet muscle car/motorcycle chase, multiple vehicular crashes, drug running, serious strangulation, car stealing, car door hooey, major car combat, a brutal one-on-many brawl, serious knee capping, multiple headshots, basement hole filling, exploding house, multiple burning photographs, walking, dog watching, a getting stuff montage in Rome, a weird goddamn concert, attempted wrist slitting, dying while naked, a wicked bullet to the head, a cool gun duel where both people draw and get shot, multiple extended gun battles, a cool run and gun tunnel sequence, shotgun hooey, shotgun blast to the head and we see it (Automatic Greatest Movie Ever Made Nomination), an empty street gun battle, ancient steps hooey, window breaking, a gigantic sumo assassin, a deadly violin player, pencil hooey, neck breaking, a great silencer bit, a hilarious subway knife fight, a homeless assassin, a hellacious museum gun battle, mirror hooey, heart stabbing, a wicked bullet to the head, and a perfect set up for a sequel.

Kim Richards?: None.

Gratuitous: Silent film projected onto the side of a building for some reason, Peter Stormare, a rotary phone, Keanu Reeves, a truce drink, Bridget Moynahan, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane, Lance Reddick, Franco Nero, the voice of Darth Maul, a sort of “Raw Deal Ahnold Schwarzenegger checking his weapons and suiting up so he can go kill people” homage, Common, Italian shotgun hooey, sign language, massive contract, Larry Fishburne, Larry Fishburne putting microchips in pigeons for some reason, a sweet .45 magnum, “Reflections of the Soul” museum exhibit, a terrifying scene in a public park, and a perfect set up for a sequel.

Best lines: “So we’re giving everything up for a car?,” “John Wick is a man of focus, commitment, the sheer fucking will,” “Can a man like you know peace?,” “You have a beautiful home, John,” “I’d like to see the manager,” “You want me to kill Gianna D’Antonio?,” “Happy hunting, Mr. Wick,” “Are you here for the Pope?,” “Mr. Wick, do enjoy your party,” “Do you fear damnation, John? Yes,” “You’re not having a good night, are you, John?,” “The blade is in your aorta. If you pull it out you die. Consider this a professional courtesy,” “You have a choice. Do you want a war or do you want to give me a gun?,” “You wanted me back? I’m back!,” “Be seeing you. Sure,” “You stabbed the devil in the back. To him this isn’t vengeance, this is justice,” “Duck fat, makes all the difference,” and “Whoever comes, I’ll kill them. I’ll kill them all. Of course you will.”

10
The final score: review Virtually Perfect
The 411
Oh, man, John Wick: Chapter 2 is exactly what the world needs right now. Heck, it’s what the world always needs. A superb, badass action flick with great characters, awesome, brutal action, and the kind of attitude that far too movies have. If you like or love action movies, good God, you need to see John Wick: Chapter 2 as soon as you can. The world needs more of this kind of thing. Bring on Chapter 3!
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