Saturday, February 11, 2017

Movie Review: "John Wick: Chapter Two" (2017)

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Director: Chad Stahelski
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hour, 2 minutes

When John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is forced to honor a marker held by Santino D'Antonio (Riccardo Scamarico), he must kill Santino's sister, who is head of their crime family. Once John completes this task, Santino double crosses John and places a seven million dollar bounty on his head. Now, Wick must fight off other assassins and enact revenge on D'Antonio.

Returning to the director's chair for "John Wick: Chapter Two" is Chad Stahelski, who directed the first installment of "John Wick," which we absolutely loved. Also returning is writer Derek Kolstad, and of course, star of the film Keanu Reeves, who plays the titular John Wick. This sequel opens with Wick finishing what he started in the original film and returning to retirement. Ready to give up the life for good, he is approached by Santino D'Antonio, played by Riccardo Scamarcio, who holds an unbreakable marker given to him by Wick. Wick is tasked with a mission to honor this marker and must kill Santonio's sister Gianna, played by Claudia Gerini, so he can take over as head of their crime family and earn a seat as one of the 12 "at the table." John isn't too happy about being forced out of retirement, and after Santino betrays him, he is out for revenge. To protect himself, Santino places a seven million dollar bounty on Wick open to anyone who can get to him first.

Much like its predecessor, "John Wick: Chapter Two" is a silky, ultra stylish, balls to the wall, action-packed ride full of kills and thrills. Kolstad and Stahelski have created an engaging and very intriguing universe that is populated by tons of assassins who operate under a special set of laws. There isn't really a super deep plot here (not that it matters). The bottom line is, John Wick gets double-crossed, therefore John Wick has to kill a lot of people. It is really the mythos around this universe which sets these films apart from other "blah" action films like it.

This sequel is every bit as cool and fun as the original. Stahelski spent much of his career as a stunt coordinator, which may explain why he has such a great eye for action and a killer (no pun intended) instinct for sleek fight choreography. The hand-to-hand combat and gun-play sequences flow so smoothly, they happen like a dance, an ultra-violent, blood-filled dance. John Wick is still the master of the head-shot and the double tap, which is perhaps one of the best things about this character. He leaves a river of blood and a pile of bodies wherever he goes. The fight sequences are done really well as we see Reeves's Wick performing what are legitimate judo throws and sick jits holds. Keanu Reeves has never been known for his range on the big screen, but his more stoic, serious, monotonous nature works for this super killer character.

"John Wick: Chapter Two" is a sequel that most certainly didn't disappoint us. It may be one of the best sequels out there as it is just as good as the original in every single way. Reeves has never been better, the action is some of the best and most thrilling ever, and we cannot wait to see what comes next for this universe. We want the threequel. NOW.

My Rating: 8.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: ~8.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ~90%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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