Movie, Reviews

“John Wick: Chapter 2” a Killer of a Thriller

 

If you are familiar with the original movie two years ago, John Wick: Chapter 2 serves up a heaping helping of violence this time around as well. The action packed hitman film moves from New York to Rome, Italy where violence explodes Italian style. Although you need not have seen the first film, it wouldn’t hurt to relive it a bit on video. Especially if you may be hesitant about seeing a second passionate ode to carnage.

We find notorious independent hit man John Wick (Keanu Reeves) living with his replacement dog “no name” still bereft over the death of his wife Helen due to a sickness. He’s distraught as well because his stolen muscle car, a 1969 Mustang 429, has not been recovered and still pines for his murdered dog Daisy.

Keanu Reeves stars in the title role of John Wick

One day he gets a visit from Santino Di Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio), the son of an Italian Mafia Don. Santino has been holding a marker from a favor he did for Wick and has come to collect on it. It seems that his older sister Gianna Di Antonio (Claudia Gerini) has a seat in the Mafia and he wants Wick to kill her so he can claim it for his own.

John Wick (Keanu Reeves, left) and Santino Di’ Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio)

So begins a story of mayhem, death and revenge that stretches from The Big Apple to The Eternal City. Director and writer of chapter 2 Chad Stahelski continues the rampage from his first violent hit film. This time he even extends the movie to another half hour with a few respites from the intense combat. The first ten minutes of the movie includes over ten kills followed after a 15 minutes calmness. Then there’s 72 gut-wrenching deaths and later the finale that includes 44 more.

But, Stahelski’s film has terrific characters that deliver the fierce fighting using thousands of bullets, some slashing knives and backbreaking martial arts. It’s controlled chaos at its best with amazing acting to bring the roles to the screen. Sure you may have seen similar stories like The Raid for example, that moves along at a fast pace causing damage and high rates of mortality. But, choreography was not as thrilling and the actors used mainly mixed martial arts.

Akoni (Chukwudi Iwuji) and Cassian (Common) in JOHN WICK 2

Reprising his role, Keanu Reeves plays the top notch hitman John Wick reckless abandon. He’s out for blood and blood he will get. It may be some of his own, but if you are on the other end of his quest for revenge or in the way of his target, there’s nowhere to hide. Reeves performs a good measure of the choreographed fighting with some scenes running non-stop for 10 to 15 minutes. For any actor it would be a chore, but with Reeves it’s just a walk in the park.

Playing of the bad guys, Common stars as Cassian the bodyguard of Gianna Di Antonio. When he fears she is in peril, he explodes with as much force and aggressiveness as Reeves. I like his character and the way he shows his allegiance to the Mafia boss. It’s important to know Cassian’s loyalty without question and Common fills the bill just nicely.

Santino Di Antonio (Riccardo Scarmarcio) and Ares (Ruby Rose) in JOHN WICK CHAPTER 2 Photo Credit Niko Tavernise

A loyal soldier to Santino Di Antonio is Ruby Rose as Ares a fighter with vengeance. She’ll do anything to protect the Mafia leaders, especially Santino. Much like Sofia Boutella as the bladed banshee Gazelle in Kingsman: The Secret Service, we get another super villain Ares who can lead a squad and hold her own against Wick. Rose gives a startling performance, she’s quick, cunning and doesn’t have to speak a word to make her point.

John Wick: Chapter 2 has been rated R for strong violence throughout, some language and brief nudity. Not a film for most ladies, but 17 up males should get chills with this dark thriller in the style of Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill. Warning: the film is not for the timid.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A hot “Kick-Ass” thriller that’s non-stop excitement.

Additional Film Information:
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Common, Laurence Fishburne, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ruby Rose, Lance Reddick, Peter Stormare, Bridget Moynahan, Franco Nero, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane.
Directed by: Chad Stahelski
Genre: Crime, Thriller, Action
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence throughout, some language and brief nudity
Running Time: 2 hrs. 2 min.
Release Date: February 10, 2017
Distributed by: Summit Entertainment

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Film Editor John Delia has been on all sides of the movie business from publications to film making. He has worked as a film critic with ACED Magazine for more than 12 years and earned a Bachelors degree in communications from the University of Florida. John is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association. Follow John on Twitter @staragent1 or send John a message at jdelia@acedmagazine.com