Tag Archives: Keanu Reeves

John Wick: Chapter 2 – Movie Review

There’s an old saying about honor among thieves. Apparently, that saying applies to assassins too. The world and code of assassins expands in the world of John Wick, Chapter 2. Let’s face it, the movie is a car chase, gun play, hand-to-hand kill fest. But it helps to have a compelling story to link the action together and Chapter 2 is an excellent sequel to the first.

Release Date: February 10, 2017
Writer: Derek Kolstad
Director: Chad Stahelski
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Lawrence Fishburne, Ian McShane, Common, Ruby Rose, Riccardo Scamarcio

Shortly after the events of John Wick, Chapter 1, John (Keanu Reeves) thinks he’s finally out of the assassination game, until he is visited by an old acquaintance, Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio). Santino has come to call in a marker, a blood oath, from when Wick needed Santino to help him with the impossible task. Wick refuses to honor the marker and Santino blows up Wick home and he loses everything.

While seeking refuge at the Continental, the assassin’s safehaven, Wick is informed by manager Winston (Ian McShane) that he is honor-bound to fulfill the marker. There is nothing the society can do to release him from this contract. Agreeing to fulfill this final oath, Wick must assassinate Santino’s sister, Gianna D’Antonio (Claudia Gerini), the current leader of the D’Antonio crime family. Of course, with Gianna’s removal, Santino can now takeover the family.

Wick decides to murder Gianna at her installation ceremony in Italy. As with any good crime story, things go horribly wrong. Wick is confronted by Gianna’s bodyguard Cassian (Common), who appears to be the athletic equal of Wick. Santino, you guessed it, turns on Wick and is now being hunted by hearing-impaired body guard of Santino, Ares (Ruby Rose).

First, John Wick: Chapter 2 is an action film. Its starts with a clever car fight, not a car chase. It’s an actual fight with cars. But then the movies becomes one fight sequence after another. Each sequence is a combination of hand-to-hand and gun fights. Watch closely the fights with Cassian, where Wick is pushed to the edge fighting an opponents that is as good as he is. Near the end though the sequences can feel quite labored.

Second, John Wick is a fantasy film. Just like Chapter 1, the real fun of the film is the world of assassin’s and the Continental society. From a story standpoint, Chapter 2 is less about John Wick and his desire to return to normal life. The real movie is about the secret society and its rules that bind one to blood oaths, membership benefits and what happens when a members break its most cardinal rule—“never conduct business on Continental property.”

Third, John Wick is a sequel and just as good a movie as the first. Sequels give filmmakers time because there is no need to introduce the main characters. So, the world of the Continental gets to be expanded with the cool and obligatory weapons and armor store demos. We also get to see the consequences of challenging this elite society. And like a good sequel, it ends is an intriguing cliffhanger, which demands the story to continue.

John Wick: Chapter 2 succeeds as a sequel because it captures the flavor and spirit of the first film and tells a good story. The only negative is it leaves audiences a little frazzled by repetitive fight sequences. One also has to wonder with such a high body count, are there any people left in the world to kill?

John Wick – Movie Review

Fate returns the world’s most feared assassin back into a game he never should have left. Keanu Reeves is John Wick, who escaped the world he once lived as an assassin, to become a loving husband in the real world.

Now mourning the death of his wife from cancer, Wick attempts to gather the pieces of his life with the help of a puppy his deceased wife gave to him. All Wick has left in his life is his house, vintage car and puppy. This is what we call a quick set-up to jump start a character’s motivation for an action movie.

During a random gas station visit, Wick encounters Iosef Tarasof (Alfie Allen), the son of the Russian mob boss, Viggo Tarasof (Michael ), who takes a fancy to Wick’s classic Mustang. This is the arbitrary event that sets the “stone” rolling. In a late night home invasion, Iosef steals Wick’s car, beats Wick to an inch of his life and kills the puppy. And now, everything we need to justify all the violence we’re about to witness in the next 70 minutes.

John Wick is light on plot and heavy on action. Action movies are a “dime-a-dozen” and it’s necessary to set your movie from the rest. A good action movie requires tent poles moments connecting the deadly action. Start with the revelation to mob boss, Viggo, hearing the news that his son “pissing off” the wrong person. The shot cuts to Viggo, then the slow zoom and finally the look of defeat in his eyes, knowing that he’s going to die at the end. The movie effectively uses this moment with only words and reaction to explain that John Wick is a badass killer even though he has yet to kill anyone in the movie.

Good stories are rarely important for an action film. Writer/Directors David Leich and Chad Stahelski effectively use ofstory to heighten the quality of coolness. For example, they created a world of assassins. A world, where its members have honor, codes of conduct and a healthy dose of backstabbing. The movie takes place in New York City and centers on the Continental Hotel. The Continental is a haven for assassins and run by the owner, Winston (Ian McShane) and the hotel manager, Charon (Lance Reddick). The Continental is where assassination business conducted and meet in safety. There are rules too, like no killing on property.

Great action is a must in a great action movie. Director Stahelski does employ the overused shaky cam, but it’s less shaky, allowing us to actually see the action. Longer continuous shots replace the nauseating quick shot showing Keanu actually trained to make this movie. Visually, filmmakers apply a good balance of graphic dismemberment and implied gore. A nice variety “arenas” breaks up the monotony often associated with common action films. Death finds its theater in a quiet home of Wick, a warehouse, a church and a crowded night club.

John Wick is a very simple story of revenge. Keanu Reeves plays the role of admirably after a long absence from the action drama. Leich and Stahelski find numerous comedic moments for us to rest from the action including a hilarious moment when the local police visit Wick’s home fresh off a killing spree. Well-staged and filmed actions sequences make this movie refreshing and unique enough to rise above the constant stream of action movies force fed to moviegoers every year.