‘John Wick: Chapter 2’ is a rollicking good action sequel
PHOTO BY SUMMIT ENTERTAINMENT
JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2
Where is it playing?: Parks Plaza
What's it rated?: R
What's it worth?: $ Matinee
What's it worth?: $Full price
Keanu Reeves reprises his role as retired legendary hit man John Wick, who in the first round (John Wick, 2014) came out of retirement after a Russian gangster stole his car and killed his dog. This time around, Wick reactivates after Santino D’Antonio (Ricardo Scamarcio), a former colleague, calls in a “marker,” which Wick initially refuses to honor … until D’Antonio destroys his house and threatens to have him killed. (122 min.)
Glen: I think I just witnessed about 100 murders, maybe more. John Wick dispatches bad guys with ruthless precision, with headshot after headshot in close-quarters sidearm battles. It’s almost as cartoonish as Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill films. So if you like that sort of thing—and I do—you’re going to love the second film in what’s purported to be a trilogy. Wick still wants out of the life, but since Santino holds his marker, which he took to let him out the first time, he has every right to call it in, especially after Wick returned to the profession in the first film to avenge his dog and retrieve his car. If he fulfills Santino’s request, to kill his sister, Gianna (Claudia Gerini), who got their father’s seat on the high council after he died, then Wick will be allowed to leave again. Want to guess how that turns out? First Wick becomes a target of Gianna’s bodyguard Cassian (hip-hop star Common), and then Santino himself puts out a hit on him to avenge his sister. Yes, these guys live in a very different world where morality is dictated by a set of rules enforced by proprietors of assassin hotels “The Continental”—Winston (Ian McShane) in New York and Julius (the great Franco Nero) in Rome. It’s an epic battle royale of a film that barely slows enough for Wick to catch a breath, but when it does slow, it brings in Wick’s memories of his wife, Helen (Bridget Moynahan), which humanizes Wick and helps us sympathize. After all, it’s not like he’s killing innocent people.
Anna: From the opening scene, this movie is loud, fast paced, and full of blood. Just what fans of the first installment were hoping for—Keanu Reeves channeling his inner badass while pulling off every crazy stunt you can think of. While this sort of pedal-to-the-metal action flick isn’t always my thing, John Wick: Chapter 2 is an entertaining ride, albeit a bloody one. Headshots happen in quick succession, and the sound of gunfire was still pulsing in my head after the credits rolled. I’ve heard that Reeves trained and did his own stunts in the film as well as some of the driving scenes, which for me is reason enough to watch him take everyone around him down. The guy is a real live action hero! As far as the plotline goes, it does what it needs to—gets Wick back in the game and creates targets to chase down while he himself has a bounty on his head. There’re a slew of characters on the hunt for Wick; quite frankly there has to be because he takes them out so quickly that one enemy could never suffice. Santino is the ultimate villain though, and Wick keeps his eye on the prize, stopping for nothing with a doglike determination for justice. His short retirement didn’t make him soft, as the reluctant Wick jumps back into action with as much gusto as the first time around. If you don’t mind this sort of intense, fast-paced action film that’s over the top with blood and death, John Wick: Chapter 2 is certain to entertain (and make you think about signing up for that jiu jitsu class your neighbor was telling you about).
Glen: I watched a video that was circulating online that showed Reeves practicing all this gunplay in a closed, live fire shooting range, and he was deadly! He moved from using a semi-automatic rifle to a semi-auto sidearm to a tactical shotgun and it looked to me like he didn’t miss a target. He’s definitely one of those love-him-or-hate-him actors. I have a friend who said every time he speaks she hears Ted from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (another Bill and Ted’s is in development, FYI!). He’s played some pretty iconic roles, from Neo in The Matrix series to Jack Traven in Speed to Johnny Utah in Point Break. He’s also made some surprising choices such as My Own Private Idaho and The Gift. I don’t think he’s got a lot of range as an actor and he’s made a lot of mediocre films, but when he finds the right role, he’s very watchable. John Wick seems like a character he’s perfect for. Reeves has survived a lot of personal tragedies, so his hangdog demeanor as John Wick feels pretty real. He father abandoned the family when he was just 3. His bestie River Phoenix overdosed at 23, his first child was stillborn eight months into the pregnancy, and 18 months later his wife died in a car accident. By all accounts he’s a generous and wonderful human being. Best of all, he can kick some serious ass, which is why I go to movies like John Wick: Chapter 2.
Anna: Chances are you already know if this film is for you or not. I doubt fans of this type of intense action film need much convincing to go see it. By the same token, you know if you hate this type of high-intensity, combat-fueled flick, and would probably skip it despite decent reviews. But for those who fall somewhere in the middle like myself, I say go for it—Reeves’ seriously badass skills shouldn’t be missed. If you’ve got friends or a partner who is gung-ho to catch this action film, you’ll have a fine time watching along with them, as long as you don’t get queasy at the sight of blood—there is a lot of that. Predictably the film ends with Wick running as fast as he can directly into what will be Chapter 3, which promises to keep the blood pumping for one more installment in Wick’s saga. Let’s hope whoever is at the wheel for the next film keeps the same raw energy and mind-boggling stunt work that the first two succeeded at; it is what makes movies like this work.
Sun Screen is written by New Times Senior Staff Writer Glen Starkey and his wife, Anna. Comment at email@example.com.