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A great modern action film from the West. How long has it been since we witnessed that? Every action movie produced in modern Hollywood seems less concerned with actually showing us the cool action than in shaking the camera and providing hundreds of cuts in every fight in order to give the illusion that something exciting is happening on-screen. This is often the case to hide the stunt doubles on set. In 2014, that changed when John Wick was released in theaters! Main star Keanu Reeves (The Matrix, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure) and directors Chad Stahelski (The Crow, V for Vendetta) and David Letich (Blade, Constantine), the latter two themselves starting their film careers as stuntmen and stunt coordinators, had a chance to show the world how to create great action and subtle world-building!
John Wick was inspired by older films from Western directors such as Sergio Leone (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Once Upon a Time in America) and Sam Peckinpah (PAt Garrett and Billy the Kid, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia). Also of inspiration were, notably superior to modern Hollywood, East Asian action films, such as The Killer and The Man From Nowhere. (Disclosure: The Man From Nowhere is one of my favorite modern action movies. We Westerners must pay more attention to East Asian cinema)
With a near-perfect action movie like John Wick created, how could Reeves, and Stahelski hope to recapture, or even surpass, the excitement? Especially considering no one saw it coming. I am happy to say that they found a way!
John Wick 2 begins about 4 days after the events of the previous movie. Wick has killed the bad guys and their boss, Michael Nyqvist (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol), from the previous film and now is “repossessing” his car from Nyqvist’s brother, Peter Stormare (Fargo, Longmire). Having intended to stay out of the business for good now that his revenge is complete, Wick is drawn back in by a blood oath to Italian boss Riccardo Scarmacio (To Rome with Love, Burnt). Scarmacio wants Wick to complete an contract. When something inevitably goes horribly wrong, Scarmacio now has a contract for $7 million in exchange for Wick being delivered dead.
The plot of this movie is like the first one: a backdrop to allow Stahelski and Reeves to show how great they are at action. The action is as spectacular as ever, with some new tricks too! It’s always great when a movie knows where its priorities are, and John Wick: Chapter 2 makes no pretense of being anything other than an exciting world to host action!
Yes the movie is essentially what you were expecting it to be, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! With supporting actors including Laurence Fisburne (Apocalypse Now, The Tuskegee Airmen) and Franco Nero (Django, Last Days of Mussolini), and prominent enemy assassins in the form of Common (Street Kings, Suicide Squad) and Ruby Rose (Around the Block, Orange is the New Black), and it is a fun ride from start to finish! IF the ending of this movie is anything to go on, then we’re in for more fun in a third movie!
And we finally get to see John kill people with a pencil!
Image from ScreenRant.com