Gisell Says Keanu Reeves Once Again Kicks Ass And Takes Names in JOHN WICK: CHAPTER TWO

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The fashionably-clad assassin John Wick returns with double the guns and gallantry, improving upon its predecessor while upping the ante and using the same tools which made the first film work at its vast disposal. The story opens with Wick chasing down the remainder of the crew of the Tarasov family, which were responsible for stealing his car in the first film. After several run-ins with gang members, Wick finally works his way up to Abram (Peter Stormare) whom plays the Uncle of Alfie Allen’s character from the first film. It was well worth the 12 year wait to hear Stormare mumble the name “John” again. Having been a big fan of Constantine, I admired the fact that this film reunited them both as adversaries once more. John retrieves his stolen car, but soon after arriving home, we see John is still in mourning over his wife and eager to move on with retirement.


Suddenly, an old colleague Santino (Riccardo Scamarcio), rings his doorbell, requesting John to embark on a mission to execute his own sister, Gianna (Claudia Gerini), who has been willed by their father to have a seat at the table of a very powerful organization in Rome. Santino wants the position for himself, but cannot until his sister is eradicated. John’s refusal snowballs into an all-out war between him and Santino, forcing Wick’s hand to carry on with the mission to honor a blood oath, but not without a clash of conscience. Once in Rome, John is betrayed and must contend with more than just Santino, as many of the world’s best assassins are out to cash in on a contract for John’s life.


Keanu Reeves proves that along with his Bill & Ted and The Matrix franchises; John Wick will be comfortably placed atop the cinematic mantel of his more iconic and memorable roles. I don’t want to give too much away, however this film is pretty straightforward, and that’s not such a bad thing. Too many times has Hollywood attempted to make a great action film succeed and where others have failed, John Wick is resilient to former devices which have led other films like it to flounder. This film has all of the right ingredients, and it just works perfectly. Is the idea new? No. There’s been plenty of films where the good guy loses a loved one and goes after the bad guys. However, this film takes that idea and does it with style, simplicity and poise, not to mention making it well-liked overall in order to appeal to just about everyone’s sensibilities, and that’s quite difficult to accomplish with audiences these days.


There’s some similarities with this film and the last, but the story takes place pretty much directly after the first film. The filmmakers are well aware that it’s been three years since you’ve last seen Wick in action, but it hasn’t been that long in the actual storyline, so expect some characters to speak somewhat repetitively in regards to certain matters. Doing this serves its purpose in reminding you in case you’ve forgotten about what occurred in the first film and also keeps within the confines of the John Wick mantra. I think you could probably see this film, without necessarily seeing the first as a prerequisite because it does a good enough job explicating the most significant plot points of the past in order for you to understand this chapter and the deeper mythology to the story.


One of the most noticeable elements is the cinematography work done by Dan Laustsen (Crimson Peak, Silent Hill). It’s still the same look as the first film, but it’s sharper, cleaner, brighter and edgier. It’s very nice to look at and watching Keanu kicking ass and taking names for two hours, is just an added bonus. Being in his 50s couldn’t look better on Reeves. He is arguably in the best shape of his life and watching him perform practically all of his own fight scenes and stunts, you’ve got to respect the guy for being able to throw down with guys that are half his age with very little ease. He’s been quoted in interviews saying he has a deep respect for these films and you can tell because he really adds credibility to his character and it makes the film even better. There are many returning faces, such as: Winston (Ian McShane), Aurelio (John Leguizamo), Charon (Lance Reddick), and Jimmy (Thomas Sadoski), as well as new faces: Ares (Ruby Rose), Cassian (Common) and Laurence Fishburne, whom plays the Bowery King. Everyone seems to have great chemistry with one another, but I always look forward to the comedic exchanges between Reeves and Leguizamo, as well as him and Reddick, who plays the lobby clerk at the Continental Hotel.


John Wick fulfills its promises for more bullets, bloodshed, and bodies and delivers superior action and absolutely incredible car chases, stunt scenes, fighting and shoot-out choreography. Not to mention, the soundtrack even has style, including artists like Alice in Chains’ very own Jerry Cantrell and the return of Ciscandra Nostalghia and Tyler Bates (Guardians of the Galaxy, Watchmen) returning to develop the score. Chad Stahelski also came back to direct this film, along with screenwriter, Derek Kolstad, whom both worked on the first film together. The scenes filmed abroad are stunning, and with the return of most of the original cast and filmmakers, amped up fight sequences, and well-polished cinematography; Reeves truly ignites the screen as Wick in all his vengeful glory. John Wick makes the most out of burning the midnight oil, giving the audience an unstoppable, action-packed sequel that brings the heat. I’m thinking he’s definitely back!


FINAL WORD:  StarStarStarStarHalf Star