JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 (R16, 123 MINS), DIRECTED BY CHAD STAHELSKI,
It’s the call Abram (Peter Stormare) has been dreading. John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is headed for his chopshop – and he’s not happy. Abram’s nephew and brother have already fallen foul of the dapperly-dressed ‘‘boogeyman’’ for murdering his wife and puppy and now Abram is in the firing line because he now possesses Wick’s beloved 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1 among his ill-gotten inventory.
Naturally heads are cracked, havoc wreaked and cars wrecked, but Abram’s own life is spared as Wick considers justice and vengeance served.
However, although desperately keen to, literally, bury his past, Wick now finds himself dragged back into the hitman game by the man who helped him escape in the first place. High-ranking Camorra lieutenant Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) is calling in his debt, demanding Wick kill his sister so he can take her place at the criminal-underworld’s ‘‘high table’’. When our man refuses, D’Antonio simply burns his house down.
Seeking counsel from hitman ‘‘rule-master’’ Winston (Ian McShane), Wick discovers, to his horror, he has no choice but to carry out the assassination.
Like the 2014 original, Chad Stahelski’s sequel was originally destined for a debut outside of Kiwi cinemas. However, a fan campaign was launched which changed the distributors’ minds. Thank goodness they did. For John Wick: Chapter 2 is one of the most entertaining action movies you’ll see this year.
Yes, it’s at times uncomfortably ultraviolent, viciously visceral and wantonly wince-inducing, but it boasts plenty of colourful characters, gripping drama and more than a little humour. Kinetic, frenetic and, at times, just plain lunatic, director Stahelski’s former role as Wick star Reeve’s stunt-double comes to the fore as he choreographs some truly breathtaking action for his reliably laconic action-man.
Much-derided for his line-delivery in other flicks, Reeves’ here is a man of few words and many actions, as Stahelski cleverly surrounds him with the more verbose likes of Stormare, Scamarcio, McShane and a scenestealing Laurence Fishburne. However, Reeves is almost outshone by the actionwoman du jour Ruby Rose, who follows up her excellent turns in the most recent XXX and Resident Evil entries with a crowd-pleasing turn as a hearingimpaired hitwoman.
Throw in some playful use of subtitles, a hilarious makeover scene and a terrific homage to Orson
Welles’ The Lady From Shanghai, and this latest John Wick adventure will leave you counting down the days till Chapter 3. – James Croot
Keanu Reeves is back playing deadly dapper dude John Wick in the impressive John Wick: Chapter 2.