Chad Stahelski directs the sequel to great effect. Keanu Reeves also reprises his role in “John Wick: Chapter 2”.
Wick is the hit man with a past that has reached iconic status. The sequel makes knockdown entertainment with a very successful punch. Much has been made of Keanu Reeves monotone delivery and wooden acting, but in “Wick 2” the action binds you like a garrote and does not let go. Reeves slinks through each scene like a lethal living sculpture and he is once again, perfectly cast.
The film pays tribute to Spaghetti Westerns and Samurai Films. Better yet, this sequel makes fun of itself.
D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) a crime lord, visits Wick at home. He tells him that he owes a favor and D’Antonio intends to collect. Wick politely and firmly declines.
Antonio burns the house down, almost to ash.
Soon Wick is back in action, told to kill D’Antonio ‘s sister (Claudia Gerini) a rival for power. Wick visits some old friends at the Continental Hotel and gets some supplies.
He follows the sister, Gianna to Rome where Wick takes on the persona of The Grim Reaper complete with monosyllabic replies. Gianna seems a version of The Snow Queen from Andersen, at least she is draped in white and harshly matter of fact. When seeing Wick, Gianna kills herself and much like a fairy tale, a cloak of blood drapes her body with a macabre opulence that rivals the work of Gustave Dore.
Suffice to say, Wick is on the run.
There are numerous men and women out to get him and through it all, the man in black runs on and on and on, his face increasingly peppered with blood. He slides and lumbers along like a lethal locomotive, loosing steam but always turning.
Wick’s main adversary is a driven mercenary named Cassian (Common) who is a doppelganger of Wick; the two are both dispassionate dispatchers of intent.
The ultra dizzying shooting, stabbing, thumping and crunching with the decibels to match, makes a manic, percussive meditation on the ubiquity of guns and violence in our culture. With each bullet, scores of men are made into nihilist puppets. Not since “American Psycho” has the Grand Guignol of bloodgushing been sprayed about for all to see with such abandon.
There is a gun battle in a museum and the endless fountains of blood mimic the gestural arcs of the abstract paintings hanging on the walls.
What can you say about a film that has two killers taking shots at each other on a crowded escalator with none of the shoppers reacting whatsoever? Our world is only just slightly less unfeeling.
The heavy and labored way that Wick fires each weapon but still carries on shows the futility of fighting.
Actor Franco Nero of Sergio Carbucci’s “Django” appears as the manager of The Contenental in Rome and Laurence Fishburne has an eccentric bit as an underworld king.
“John Wick: Chapter 2” has the feel of a graphic novel laced with amphetamines in the margins. The gallows humor combined with villians more poisonous than any current Bond baddie, give this sequel undeniable spirit.
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