JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2
Legendary hired gun John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is forced back out of retirement by a former associate plotting to seize control of a shadowy international assassins' guild. Bound by a blood oath to help him, John travels to Rome where he squares off against some of the world's deadliest killers in an adrenaline-fueled thrill ride that takes the non-stop action of the original to a whole new level - with the body count to match.
Review by Louise Keller:
Roman catacombs, classic artworks, neon nightclubs and a mesmerizing hall of mirrors are the stunning backdrops for a sublimely choreographed, sophisticated ballet of brutal killings in this John Wick sequel. Good luck if you try to keep track of the body count. There were about 80 in the 2014 original film; I am confident there are more this time around. Like The Fight Club, there are rules to follow. No blood on Continental grounds (the central locale for the assassins); every marker must be honoured. It feels as though there are as many assassins on the streets as there are aliens in Men in Black. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but as a genre film, it excels on every count with its unique vision, balance of action with character development. The film certainly looks wonderful with its spectacular visuals, capturing our focus beyond the close-up, blood-soaked violence.
The film begins with John Wick (Reeves) collecting his prized 1969 black Mustang, which played a pivotal role in the first movie. By the end of the rev-filled segment, it is not in good nick! Wick is aching to retire - he even buries his impressive stash of weaponry under concrete - but Italian mobster Santino D'Antonio (impeccably dressed Riccardo Scamarcio) has other ideas. Thus begins the all-out war between D'Antonio and Wick and the reason why Wick heads to Rome to fulfill an obligation. Effortless kung-fu moves, practiced punches, hand combat with knives plus an impressive armory of guns of all sizes follow. Oh, should we be as meticulous as Wick when selecting the tools of our trades!
The plot involves the acquisition of a seat on the High Table of powerful crime bosses, murder so foul and an inside look into the running of the exclusive club whose members are assassins. Ian McShane is fine as Winston, who runs the famed Continental and polices its tight rules. I love the idea that the assassins live and abide by these rules. There is honour among assassins.
The scenes involving Accounts Payable, where bounties are set and the word put out onto the street, are delicious. Watch for the scene in which Wick and fellow assassin Cassian (rapper, Common) are forced to take time out from their killing spree to drink vodka and bourbon at the Continental bar, when they would rather be killing each other. Chad Stahelski's direction of the scene in Rome when Wick faces his glamorous mark (Claudia Gerini) as she is about to take a bath is operatic in the true sense.
Reeves, who wears a tailor-made suit throughout and performs most of his own stunts, carries the weight of the film on his broad shoulders. His facial expressions vary from expressionless to more expressionless. He is reunited with his Matrix co-star Laurence Fishburne, a welcome addition to the cast. Reeves spends most of the film living up to his reputation as the guy who once killed three guys with a pencil and we are reminded by Peter Stormare (as a Russian Mobster) that all the tales about John Wick are understated.
This is not a film about subtlety, yet there is delicacy about the way the assassins conduct themselves as they follow the strict rules that fashion their lives.
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JOHN WICK REVIEW
JOHN WICK 2 (MA15+)
(US, HK, Italy, Canada, 2017)
CAST: Keanu Reeves, Ruby Rose, Common, Laurence Fishburne, Ian McShane, Common, John Leguizamo, Bridget Moynahan
PRODUCER: Basil Iwanyk, Erica Lee
DIRECTOR: Chad Stahelski
SCRIPT: Derek Kolstad
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Dan Laustsen
EDITOR: Evan Schiff
MUSIC: Tyler Bates, Joel J. Richard
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Kevin Kavanaugh
RUNNING TIME: 122 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Studio Canal
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 18, 2017