John Wick: Chapter 2 (M18: violence)
Starring Keanu Reeves, Ian McShane, Common, Riccardo Scamarcio Directed by Chad Stahelski
In the 2014 B-movie near-masterpiece John Wick, the retired hit man John Wick played by Keanu Reeves racked up a body count of 84 among the Russian mob because they stole his car and killed his puppy.
Barely has he washed the blood off when an Italian Mafioso (Riccardo Scamarcio) arrives at his Long Island home to claim a past debt, forcing on him an assignment to Rome, deep inside The Continental international assassin guild.
John Wick: Chapter 2, which continues a few days after the first movie, is lower in emotional stakes, Wick no longer motivated by revenge. In compensation this sequel introduces a fully realised secret society that is governed by arcane codes and Ian McShane’s enigmatic manager.
And with Chad Stahelski, Reeves’ stunt double on The Matrix Trilogy, again the director, it is another full-throttled action spectacular once a syndicate puts out a global contract on Wick, and Wick himself becomes a mark. Suddenly, everyone is a killer, not only Mafia enforcers Common and Ruby Rose but that homeless guy in the park, and there are as many ingeniously choreographed, deadpan witty confrontations from rooftop chases and subway gunplay to a knife-fight down the catacombs.
A dazzling hall-of-mirrors shoot-out is a homage to Bruce Lee’s 1973 Enter the Dragon and Orson Welles’ 1947 The Lady From Shanghai: Hong Kong martial arts and existential noir are the film’s influences.
Reeves, lithe and lethal as the haunted hero, performs his own stunts, deploying Glocks, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, bare knuckles, even pencils. He gets reinforcement from Laurence Fishburne, another Matrix alumnus, who cameos as an underground kingpin.
Wick has also a new dog. [Spoiler alert] This time, the dog lives. 3.5/5