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Thursday, February 16, 2017

John Wick: Chapter 2 2017 * * * 1/2 Stars

John Wick: Chapter 2Director: Chad Stahelski
Year: 2017
Rated R
Rating: * * * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Common, Laurence Fishburne

His name is Johnathan "John" Wick and yup, he's back! John Wick: Chapter 2 (my latest review) is a movie that lives in a world all its own. It's that underground world filled with lustrous images, hidden crime, and 50's-style telephone operators. "Chapter 2" also cements Keanu Reeves as one of the best action stars on the planet. He's up there with Liam Neeson, Denzel Washington and my personal favorite, Mel Gibson. I remember seeing "The One" in 1991's Point Break and wondering if he could take on the role of action hero and veritable butt kicker. I haven't wondered for some time for he's done it in a steadily manner over the past 26 years.

So OK, Keanu's martial arts moves in The Matrix were a little stiff. And yes, he's not exactly the acting caliber of Daniel Day-Lewis. No matter. It's a whole new spiel now. Reeves using minimal dialogue and beholding a overly seething screen presence, is almost synonymous with intimidating dudes you don't wanna mess with. In "Chapter 2" he dons a slick suit and spotty beard, loads and reloads a P30 faster than a jack rabbit, and eliminates gun-toting baddies like a champ. His John Wick: Chapter 2 is an exercise in style and its violence is like ballet, poetry, or birds in flight. Oh yeah, this "wick" burns through and through.

Image result for john wick chapter 2 movie scenesNow in 2014, I did give the first John Wick a mixed review. I said that it didn't add anything fresh to the action thriller genre. With John Wick: Chapter 2, I almost went the same route until I viewed "Chapter 2's" final shootout sequence. Heck, I don't know director Chad Stahelski from Adam but I'm pretty sure he paid homage to Bruce Lee and Lee's mirror fight scene from Enter the Dragon. Stahelski's interpretation of the last ten minutes of "Chapter 2", is a real humdinger. It single-handedly makes for a superior sequel which is a rare thing.

As for John Wick: Chapter 2's diegesis, well it's different from what transpired in the original John Wick. This time, it's not about Keanu's trouper getting revenge on some Russian gangsters who kill his dog and take his kick ass ride (a Boss 429 Mustang). And this time, the proceedings are even more violent, more bloody, and more smash-mouth. "Chapter 2's" story involves Jonathan being coerced back into the hitman life. First, he has to assassinate an Italian crime lord's sister and then, Wick has to dodge every other professional killer because he's got a $7 million dollar contract on his head. Be on the lookout for more tantalizing subtitles (from the first installment) and Stahelski's standard and forthright camerawork. He may be the antithetical Paul Greengrass. Also, look for a couple of scenes where Keanu Reeves is reunited with his wise old co-star from The Matrix Trilogy (Mr. Laurence Fishburne). Aw, it feels so good.

Image result for john wick chapter 2 movie scenesAll in all, I honestly don't think plot matters in glitzy, neo-noir flicks such as John Wick: Chapter 2. It's more about the bullets flying, the techno music in the background, the hand-to-hand combat, and director Chad Stahelski using white background colors (in a subway station) to show an audience what real blood spattering looks like. As "Chapter 2" concludes, the film clearly leaves the door open for a third go-around. Keanu's Wick quips in future tense, "whoever comes, I'll kill them all." Dang, I can't wait. Rating: 3 and a half stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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