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John Wick: Chapter 2 - Movie Review

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John Wick: Chapter 2 - Movie Review

5 starsEvery single time Keanu Reeves is written off or dismissed, he comes bouncing back with a powerfully charged character.  Hell, he even got booed for his performance in Knock Knock.  I think I was one of the eight critics who gave him credit for knowing the tone of the horror flick.  This time, though, Reeves is the target of almost every bounty hunter out there and, guess what, he survives with style and grace and answers each and every assassin’s bullet with a boot to the head.  How’s that for protecting one’s image? 

John Wick is the latest character in his catalog of anti-heroes.  No one expected shit from the first film and it delivered more sustained spectacle than the last Bond.  It also left audiences and critics hungry for more carnage.  A quick three years later and the “more” we all craved is now leaving us with a hunger pang that that I’m not even sure a third John Wick film could satisfy.  Come back, John!  John, come back!!!

When the formula works as well as it does here, why change it? 

Know this: John Wick: Chapter 2 is just as good as the first chapter.  It is over-the-top spectacle for sure.  And, yes, some things have changed, but leave it to Reeves to fill the gap of having no real plot with an action-minded performance that will leave you gasping for air.  Reeves will never win an Oscar for ANY performance, but – if the award were given for sheer joy and effort in bringing a film to life – he’d be a fucking champion with names for all of his golden statues. 

Directed by Chad Stahelski (who has doubled for Reeves in the past when the stunts have been too risky), the second chapter in this (hopefully) ongoing series is, not surprisingly, a stunt man’s wet dream come true.  These truly are fists of fury.  With number two in the series, you have even more guns, more explosions, and even more wild car chases.  AND NO DOGS DIE!!! 

Through it all, Reeves remains untouchable – well, almost – in his suit and tie.  Amazingly enough, this sequel does everything right and gives us exactly what we want from the title character.  Almost every frame of this b-movie beast is an organized approach to carnage and vehicular mayhem and, once again, it absolutely rocks with a forward momentum that simply will not stop.  Ever. 

Narratively, the film expands upon Wick’s past and provides us a glimpse into his backstory.  It’s merely a peek, but it is enough to whet our collective appetite.  This ain’t Shakespeare, so the film cleverly knows when enough is enough and just lets both the fast and the furious fly.  And, as it co-stars Common, Laurence Fishburne, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ruby Rose, John Leguizamo, and Ian McShane, there’s enough star power surrounding the sequel to keep its 120-minutes super-charged.

While Wick goes international, the film remains a slick ride.  Sure, sure, it’s completely silly toward the end and – as it never takes itself too seriously – invites playful banter from its cast, yet the film never slips into parody.  You might chuckle a bit, but you are not ever laughing AT the film.   That’s an important quality to recognize.

John Wick: Chapter 2 leaves you wishing there were more pages to turn.  It is a sequel that walks the walk and gets it right.    

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John Wick: Chapter 2 - Movie Review

 

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