Sunday, February 26, 2017
SECOND "WICK" FIRST-RATE
The co-star of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure seriously knows how to shoot. It is as though this exciting new franchise is based entirely on Keanu's remarkable marksmanship. Go on YouTube and you can find him being badass at a range.
Also what gives this movie verisimilitude is the director, Chad Stahelski, who used to teach Jeet Kune Do, the martial art invented by Bruce Lee. (Lee's fans will thrill to a scene in a maze of mirrors referencing his best film, Enter the Dragon.) Stahelski worked as Keanu's stunt double in the masterpiece The Matrix, then became the stunt coordinator in the two sequels. If you think a stunt man can't direct, think again. This movie is flat-out beautiful. To Kill a Mockingbird it ain't. But it has color, sound, and motion to an incredible degree. John Wick: Chapter 2 is an action movie with a black belt.
You don't have to have seen the first one to appreciate it. After you've seen this sequel, you'll probably want to, though. It's about an assassin who can't retire due to a blood debt. When an Italian underworld higher-up wants his sister offed, Wick (Reeves) travels to Rome to do the job, and then faces the repercussions while trying to get back at the guy who drew him in.
Video game-like action abounds. Keanu flips hired goons all over the place and unloads clip after clip without missing a shot. Partly what makes it so interesting is to know that he's 52. Like Johnny Depp and Tom Cruise, he defies age phenomenally. College courses have been taught on the sheer variety of his movies: he started out as a goofy stoner in Sean Penn's Jeff Spicoli mold, but quickly moved on to such disparate films as The River's Edge, Point Break, and Little Buddha.
Another draw to this film is the opulent look of the underworld, and the interesting characters which fill it. Ricardo Scamarcio brings terrific believability to the role of the bad guy who makes Wick have to go back to work. Ian McShane, sturdy in everything he does, is perfectly cast as the mafia king who lives by a code of rules strictly enforced for moral purpose.
As if all this wasn't enough, we also get a couple of really cool bodyguard-types out to get Wick--an actor named Common playing a character called Cassian, and one Ruby Rose as a mute woman who kicks major butt incredibly well.
But wait, there's more. None other than Laurence Fishburne, he of Matrix fame, plays a lovable baddie from whom Wick seeks help. And even in a brief appearance, John Leguizamo makes an indelible impression as the one guy who can fix Wick's busted car.
Violent as hell, and well worth the hype.
JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2
Starring Keanu Reeves,
Directed by Chad Stahelski
Written by Derek Kolstad
Runtime 122 minutes