Now we’re talkin’. This is the first highly anticipated action movie of the year and you won’t hear any argument from me. JOHN WICK (2014) was probably one of the most stylized and exciting gunplay movies in years about a retired hitman who goes on a killing spree when some foolish jack-offs kill John’s beloved dog, a final farewell gift from his deceased wife. You’d swear to God that this story has been sitting on the cinematic shelf for years. Everyone knows that any bad guy that kills a dog is the most despicable scum to ever walk this Earth, so why not make that the motivation of our protagonist: Avenge the death of a beloved dog mixed with some seriously bad-ass action. I loved it and now I’m uber excited for the next installment. I doubt it’s going to have lightning strike twice, as the dog seems to be the sidekick this round, and seems to be a kind of Matrix reunion, but as long as we have some solid action, I think I’ll be an easy customer here.
Speaking of Matrix reunion, how about that cast? Reprising his role as the titular character of John Wick is Keanu (pronouced “kay-ah-nu” as I recently learned) Reeves. People seem awfully split about the guy, don’t they? Some love him, some don’t. Personally, I love the guy. I respect the man himself and what makes him who he is as a person, but that won’t be the focus here, despite how much I want to gush. Sure, he’ll never really change that surfer-dude voice of his, but I still enjoy his work. THE NEON DEMON (2016), THE MATRIX (1999), BILL AND TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE (1989), the list goes on. I think despite his fame, he’s underrated as an artist, and I’m likely in a vast minority of fans who see his movies specifically for him, but I’m a proud fan of the man and the actor, and I can’t wait to see him bring his fiery intensity to the character once again. While it’s unclear just how much he’ll be in the film, based on what the trailers showcased… Laurence Fishburne, fuckers! Probably one of the coolest actors around. If you need a man to be smart and wise while kicking ass, Fishburne is the man for the job. From PASSENGERS (2016), to THE MATRIX (1999), to his TV show BLACK-ISH, you can’t go wrong with him on screen, and to see him and Reeves sharing the screen again, I’m a tad giddy. Beyond them, other talents include franchise reprisals Bridget Moynahan (LORD OF WAR , I, ROBOT , and TV show BLUE BLOODS), Lance Reddick (WHITE HOUSE DOWN , JONAH HEX , and TV show FRINGE), and Ian McShane (PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES , KUNG FU PANDA , and TV show RAY DONOVAN), and newcomers Ruby Rose (XXX: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE , RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER , and TV show ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK), Peter Stormare (PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR , CONSTANTINE , and TV show LONGMIRE), Common (SUICIDE SQUAD , NOW YOU SEE ME , and TERMINATOR SALVATION ), and John Leguizamo (THE INFILTRATOR , CHEF , and the Ice Age franchise).
Now for behind the scenes. Directing is Chad Stahelski, known only for JOHN WICK (2014), but is slated to direct the upcoming reboot, HIGHLANDER, due out… who knows when. Penning the screenplay is Derek Kolstad, known only for JOHN WICK as well. Co-composing the music are Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard. Richard is known for TV shows QUANTICO, RAVENSWOOD, and THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN, and Bates is known for GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2014), SUPER (2010), and TV show SALEM. Finally, the cinematographer is Dan Laustsen, known for CRIMSON PEAKS (2015), SILENT HILL (2006), and THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN (2003).
Overall, I’m so stoked for this. I want to see the same bad-ass action, to have Reeves strike the fear of God to me and his on-screen adversaries, and a cute Matrix reunion.
This is my honest opinion of: JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2
John Wick (Keanu Reeves) just got his car back from Abram (Peter Stormare) and intends to return home and fully retire from his murdering life. However, he gets brought back in when an old acquaintance of his from their respective organization, Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio), requests him to go on a hit for him, to which John refuses. The refusal was not taken well as John’s home is destroyed by Santino. Hoping to have it settled within, his former boss Winston (Ian McShane) takes no action against Santino and John has no choice but to fulfill his wishes: killing his sister, Gianna (Claudia Gerini), so he can take her political power. He succeeds, but is then double-crossed by Santino by sending his men after John, who fail to kill him. John then begins a long trek back to finding Santino and kill him for his actions.
Alright alright, that won’t be the review, but jeez, can you really blame me if I wanted to?
Oh man, where to begin. The movie opens with a huge bang, just a ton of fighting around cars, which reminds you of the thrill ride you’re in for. The action in this movie is just as exciting, well-choreographed, shot beautifully, and hard-hitting as you’d expect. And they don’t skimp out on the violence either. A shot gets fired, and you can practically feel that bullet go through a skull. You feel that pain, even if the unfortunate dude didn’t. You feel like you hear that bullet ripping through bone and brain, it’s glorious. And Reeves, oh my god, this guy is way too nice to be knowing the many different ways there are to kill a man. I still really like John Wick as a character. He doesn’t talk much by comparison to other characters that are chatterboxes. The only time he really opens his yammer is when he’s dishing out a bad-ass line. And he signs! Who knew?!
Speaking of signing, Rose is who does the most signing. Again, who knew?! Did she and Reeves take some classes? Did they both know how to sign and then thought, “Hey how about I’m deaf and Keanu signs at me?” Eh, who cares? For whatever reason, I remember her character pretty well, and that’s not supposed to be an easy accomplishment when the character is more quirky than well-written. But I suppose there is a subtle smartness about the way she’s written. Like any really good actor, the best acting is through the eyes and facial expressions. When done right, the lines would speak for themselves and Rose does a solid job that, being the bad-ass bitch of the movie with her catchphrase: “Be seeing you.” I really enjoyed her presence, though I wish there was a better rivalry between John and Ares.
Speaking of rivalry, how about Cassian? I know most people don’t think Common is a terribly compelling actor, but I always thought that for the roles he’s been cast in, he does a solid enough job. When Cassian and John fight, the intensity really shines through, so I say that he’s pretty good as a man who’s motivations are clear print: avenging his client, whom he was close to.
Now for the big man himself, Fishburne. Despite not being in the movie long, he is a pretty entertaining character. He’s this guy who once fought John and lost by way of some kind of knife wound, offered a choice to try and kill John again and die himself, or live by keeping the knife where it was, choosing the latter. I think the movie is trying to build up some kind of war between John’s former organization of assassins and Fishburne’s characters of underground assassins. But I could totally be wrong. In any case, Reeves and Fishburne reuniting is pretty fun to watch, as well as watching him chew the scenery. “Someone give this man a gun!” I love this man, and I hope to see him in a future sequel.
I think the only real downside is that the villain is kind of a bitch, if you think about it. Not that he doesn’t know how to fight, but I think his set-up is kind of silly. Practically the entire plot is set up because John refuses to do anything for Santino. Santino reacts by blowing up his house. Even if this organization were to take fifteen minutes to explain why Santino’s actions were allowed, I don’t think there’s a reason good enough to justify such a reaction. It screams, “baby didn’t get his way, so throw a tantrum” to me. Also, as he’s being hunted down by John, he’s doing that traditional bad guy thing where he tries to void the hero by running away, even though for all intents and purposes, he’s still supposed to be a skilled assassin himself. Why not stand and fight with his best men? If he was so afraid that John would successfully kill him, why would he think that sending a shit ton of other assassins at him would do the job considering John’s reputation and body count? For that matter, why bother putting the hit on him in the first place?
I suppose I forgive this hiccup because I leads to a really interesting and exciting future for the character. This film has got some of the best gun-play action you’ll see for awhile. You’ll clap, you’ll laugh, you’ll cheer, you’ll cringe, but best of all, if you loved the first one like I did, then you’ll love this one. Despite how early in the year it is, I’m convinced this is going to be the best action movie we’re getting this year. I may have only seen it once, but by the grace of God, I’d love to see this a few more times.
My honest rating for JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2: 5/5