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article imageReview: ‘John Wick: Chapter 2’ goes bigger and gets better Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Feb 10, 2017 in Entertainment
‘John Wick: Chapter 2’ marks the reluctant return of an unstoppable killer who discovers his retirement from being a badass no longer has everyone’s support.
Every action has a consequence. A greedy, impetuous young criminal learned that lesson the hard way in 2014 when he stole a man’s car and killed his puppy. The repercussions of that night would spread violence across the city, and result in the deaths of other assassins and two generations of Russian gangsters. As that film drew to a close, there was still one piece of unfinished business to attend to: the retrieval of his car. But John Wick: Chapter 2 reveals going back into retirement isn’t as easy as coming out of it.
After completing the last of his tasks related to that fateful night, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) packs back up his former life and once again places it beneath his basement floor. With a new dog to help assuage the loneliness, John prepares to return to mourning his late wife. However, a visit from an old colleague (Riccardo Scamarcio) forces him back into the fold. Travelling to Rome, John must murder an old friend to repay a debt. But the assassination leads to a price on his own head and he suddenly finds himself hunted by every killer in a 50 km radius. By the end of this chapter, John will be able to trust no one and no one will be able to help him.
This sequel introduces several familiar faces in key roles throughout the film, yet with one exception they become entrenched in this unreal reality. Peter Stormare is left to deal with the reverberating ramifications of his kin’s actions in the first picture. Common and Ruby Rose both have John in their crosshairs on behalf of their powerful bosses and pursue him across oceans to satisfy their directives; though it feels like the latter is probably the weakest casting choice of the franchise as she doesn’t bring much personality to her role (regardless of the fact that her character is mute). In addition, Reeves is unexpectedly reunited with his Matrix co-star, Laurence Fishburne, who is placed in a slightly more antagonistic yet comparable role in which he holds knowledge John requires to complete his mission.
Reeves appears very at home playing this character, which continues to exude exceptional cool. As the narrative picks up more-or-less where the first film left off, it’s as if he never took off the suit in between pictures. Even though “car-fu” and “gun-fu” remain key components of the film, choreographers clearly worked to make each sequence different from any they’d done previously. John faces a lot more resistance, yet Reeves still appears totally comfortable grappling with and shooting his opponents, who often appear in large numbers and contribute to a much higher body count. Filmmakers also follow their initial philosophy of long takes focused on the actors so audiences can actually see the action versus rapid editing and blurred fight scenes — a detail fans will continue to appreciate as the battles have become bigger and badder.
One of the elements that was most fascinating in the first film was the formality of the underworld. Everyone dresses well, behaves accordingly and respects the long ago established rules enforced by a tradition more powerful than any one of them. That realm is further explored in the sequel as viewers are offered a better understanding of what membership to the exclusive Continental club actually provides its clientele. Unique services involving weaponry, armour and intelligence are delivered in the same official manner as one would expect dignitaries to be served. The vastness of their network is incomprehensible, and its unwavering decorum makes the film and its world even more appealing as it seems to hold so many more mysteries that are yet to be revealed.
Director: Chad Stahelski
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Riccardo Scamarcio and Ian McShane
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