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Dan's Review: "John Wick: Chapter 2" keeps the body count up

Feb 10, 2017 08:06PM ● Published by Dan Metcalf

Keanu Reeves in John Wick: Chapter 2 - © 2016 - Lionsgate

John Wick: Chapter 2 (Summit Entertainment)

Rated R for strong violence throughout, some language and brief nudity.

Starring Keanu Reeves, Common, Laurence Fishburne, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ruby Rose, John Leguizamo, Bridget Moynahan, Lance Reddick, Thomas Sadoski, Peter Stormare, Franco Nero, Peter Serafinowicz, Claudia Gerini.

Written by Derek Kolstad.

Directed by Chad Stahelski.

GRADE: B+

REVIEW:

Don’t mess with his dog, or his car. That’s a good “rule of thumb” for people who cross the semi-retired hit man John Wick, played by Keanu Reeves in the surprise action/noir hit from 2014. Keanu is back in the title role or another killing spree in John Wick: Chapter 2 this weekend.

Since the first film, in which Wick takes down an entire New york based Russian mob, we aren’t really sure what he’s been up to, except retrieving his 1969 Boss 429 Mustang taken by the mobsters. After getting his car back, Wick is soon visited crime lord Santino D'Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio), who calls in an old mafia marker, demanding that the hit man come back out of retirement. Santino’s assignment is to kill his mafia queen sister Gianna (Claudia Gerini), so that he can take her place in the world mobster leadership council (a “United Nations” of crime, if you will). Wick resists at first, but eventually agrees to carry out the hit, since he once gave a blood oath the Santino. Wick travels to Rome, where he must shoot his way through GIanna’s bodyguards led by Cassian (Common) and Ares (Ruby Rose) in order to complete his obligation. Once the deed is done, Santino orders a contract out on Wick’s head, making him the target of several killers for hire in the network. Wick also seeks assistance from “The Bowery King” (Lawrence Fishburne), a ruthless man who controls a syndicate of killers posing as homeless. Wick takes on all comers, leaving a bloody tail of bodies in his wake until he tracks Santino down to the Continental Hotel in New York (a safe haven designated for all crime syndicate players, where no blood can be spilt). The hotel is operated by Winston (Ian McShane), who enforces the rules without exception. When Wick tracks Santino back to the Continental, he must decide whether to abide by the rules, or take out his revenge on Santino, which would require Winston to “excommunicate” him.

John Wick: Chapter 2 is a non-stop action thriller with a very dark attitude. Keanu Reeves plays the title role as indestructible and fierce, with a soft spot for his deceased wife Helen (cameo appearance from Bridget Moynahan) and, of course, dogs. The dialogue and story a little over the top, with acerbic one-liners spoken by killers during stare downs, and it all plays out like a graphic novel, complete with graphic imagery.

I was pleased that writer Derek Kolstad and director Chad Staheleski ventured a little further in to the culture of the Continental Hotel from the first film, but I would have liked to see more of the quirky characters from the first installment. The new killers seem to lack the same unique style. Even so, John Wick: Chapter 2 is a worthy sequel, and sets up for more films in the future.

A word of warning: John Wick: Chapter 2 is extremely violent, with a huge body count and plenty of gruesome deaths. If you don’t like much violence and gunplay, you may want to stay away from this one.

 

John Wick: Chapter 2 Trailer

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