Three years ago, “John Wick” took the world by storm. With most people having written Keanu Reeves off as a nostalgia act who peaked with “The Matrix” films, another action film with him was destined for the bargain bin at your local Wal-Mart. However, with a solid script about revenge and trying to escape who you are along with good fight choreography and lots and lots of bullets and fire, it caught on with an audience that would be ever expanding over the months and years.
Originally planned as a trilogy, the middle section has now hit theaters as director Chad Stahelski returns with writer Derek Kolstad for the aptly named, “John Wick: Chapter 2”. This time, Wick (Reeves) REALLY wants to retire after finally taking back what was his from previous baddie Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist). He no longer gets home with his new dog before he is visited by Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio), whom he owes a debt to. Wick politely declines because is REALLY wants to retire, but D’Antonio has other ideas for him that begins with Wick’s house kinda blowing up. Wick is once again pulled into the world of the assassin as he goes to Rome to settle his debt, thus creating a whole different set of problems for him.
With a supporting cast like the returning Ian McShane, Lance Reddick, and John Leguizamo while adding Ruby Rose, Common, and even Laurence Fishburne, this is one of those films (and series) that absolutely captures the essence of not only the action film but the action film in its heyday of the 1980s. With a main character that really doesn’t have that many lines and spends more time removing the bad guys from this particular plane of reality than talking about it, this is Reeves in his element. I had some concerns going in that I had set the bar too high given how much I enjoyed its predecessor, but this film had no difficulty meeting and exceeding those expectations. There is so much over-the-top action and scenery chewing (Fishburne is a MASTER at this, and it is nothing short of glorious) that I was ready for Chuck Norris to simply show up and give John Wick that knowing nod of approval. And the action starts from the first frame of the film.
There is a bit more story involved with this one, but that does not deter from how much fun I had watching “John Wick: Chapter Two”. There is a perfect mix here of story and butt-kicking that moves the film at a really good pace that just gives the audience a moment to catch its collective breath before taking it on another chase or multi-leveled bad guy fight sequence that is an adrenaline rush to just watch happen. There is also a perfect set-up for what is scheduled to come in the future that has me ready for it RIGHT NOW.
Opening the same weekend as “Fifty Shades Darker” and “The Lego Batman Movie,” “John Wick: Chapter Two” is the perfect counter-programming for those that really do not fit in the target demographic for those other two films but do not want to be reminded that they do not have someone in their life that does. If you are simply in the mood to watch stuff ‘splode, then head to your local multiplex, leave your brain at the door, and enjoy!