John Wick: Chapter 2 (15)
John Wick: Chapter 2 sees the welcome return of Keanu Reeves as the grief-fuelled hitman who went on a killcrazy rampage after losing his wife, his puppy and his vintage car in the first film – a cult hit par excellence that came out of nowhere in 2014 to become Reeves’s most essential movie since The Matrix. The new movie picks up where that one left off: with Wick on a brutal mission to retrieve his car from the Russian gangsters who stole it. With a frankly dazzling display of vehicular-, gun- and martial-arts-induced slaughter, the film sets its thrillingly overthe-top tone early. Returning director Chad Stahelski and cinematographer Dan Laustsen craft chiaroscuros of carnage, offsetting the vibrant bloodshed with shadowy lighting to enhance the artfulness of the action. Of course there still isn’t much artfulness on display in the script – a strippeddown yet clunky amalgam of B-movie dialogue and paperthin characters. But what’s pleasing is the way Stahelski and screenwriter Derek Kolstad have built on and expanded the crazy world of the first film instead of just regurgitating the revenge storyline. Reeves, too, is just great to watch. Whether he’s being bounced off concrete steps, deflecting bullets with his Kevlar-lined suit jacket or walking across Brooklyn Bridge with his new dog, he’s in complete command of a role that only he could make work.