Posted Feb 17 2017
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John Wick Chapter 2 - This Movie Like Totally Rocks, Ted

Dir: Chad Stahelski

Starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Franco Nero, Ian McShane, Riccardo Scamarchio, Common, Ruby Rose

Is this The Godfather Part II of John Wick movies? Actually, yes!

The original John Wick arrived unheralded as a solid, back to basics ‘80s-throwback action flick, that made great use of its star, and even greater use of its stunt crew, emphasising bone-crunching hand to hand violence and wicked, inventive gun play by the bucket load. It may have started with the gag that In Hollywood you never kill the dog – they killed the dg! – but it went to somewhere far more than that. It both reinvented and raised the bar for the B movie actioner.

Partly relocating Chapter 2 to Rome shows the intention of this follow up to raise the stakes to an almost operatic level – “operatic” in the cinematic language of John Woo-Hong Kong-heavy bullet ballet meaning of that phrase. Consider the bar both raised, and cleared. By a considerable distance.

Both the original and Chapter 2 have three key things going for them. Firstly, Reeves. The man has moved from the comic genius of Theodore Logan, through his superheroic reinvention as the Superman of The Matrix, into his own third act as the ageing – but still almost mythically lethal – action man who is most definitely thinking that he’s back.

Secondly, former stunt co-ordinator and Keanu stunt double Chad Stahelski has proved himself to be a remarkably adept director. Not just in the way he handles action, but in the way he presents it. Chapter 2 is a remarkably beautiful looking film, at times awash in neon and gloom, at other timess making great use of its extensive locations.

And thirdly – well, that would just have to be the action itself. You haven’t seen gun-fu till you’ve seen John Wick. Eschewing CGI for the most part, this is good old fashioned combat sequences staged with more invention and finesse than you’ve ever seen. And (kudos to Stahelski once more) never cut within an inch of its life, a la Bay and co. But presented in long sustained moments that are simply beautifully choreographed, to the point where they practically become dance. Yes, they are almost brutally violent at times – Wick is a man who always goes for the head shot (apart from that one time where he takes out the balls – ouch!), but there’s also a great deal of wit here, and even broader humour – witness the  crowded subway chase where Reeves and Common continue shooting at each other with silenced guns, the hundreds of commuters around them oblivious to their bullets.

And then there’s the ending. Just when you think the movie is running out of steam and doesn’t know how to finish, it comes up with the most audacious set up for a sequel we’ve seen in years. One so good, it’ll have you begging (like a dog) for the next chapter.

Too early to call Action Movie Of The Year? Maybe, but we can’t see anything topping this. Too early to call Dance Movie Of The Year? No, this one has it!

Yes, we’re thinking that he’s back. And we’re hoping he comes back again pretty damn quickly.

 

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