The Keanu Reeves action train shows no sign of slowing down, especially after the introduction of John Wick in 2014. A third instalment has already been confirmed, but for now let’s focus our attention on Chapter 2… and if you’ve ever heard about that one time John killed three people in a bar with a pencil (a pencil!), prepare to see a gory re-enactment.
Set straight after the original, John is on the final part of his mission against the Russians. In the first flick the ex-hit man, who gave up his profession for his late wife Helen, comes out of retirement to track down the son of a prominent Russian gangster who killed his puppy, gifted to him by Helen after her death, and stole his beloved Ford Mustang. Known as Baba Yaga (the Boogeyman), John has lost none of his skills and single-handedly defeats anyone and anything that comes his way. All that’s left is to find his car, which he does in Chapter 2’s opening.
While John hopes to slip back into anonymity, Italian villain Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) has other ideas. Turning up at John’s house, Santino calls in a blood oath he has over the semi-retired assassin. He wants to seize control of a shadowy international assassin’s guild, but his sister Gianna (Claudia Gerini) is standing in the way – that’s where John and his next level killing skills come in. He first refuses but John is forced to agree after mentally unstable Santino burns his house down while John and his new pooch are still in it.
His quest takes him to Rome, and the neutral ground of the Continental Hotel, where he gets suited and booted for the task at hand. Completing his mission in record time, the job takes a complicated turn when not only does Gianna’s bodyguard Cassian (Common) quite literally start gunning for our brooding hero, but Santino “I’ve got no blood on my hands” D’Antonio sends his goons in to avenge his sister’s death, led by deadly deaf killer Ares (Ruby Rose).
And just when things can’t get any worse, they somehow do for poor John, who gets a $7 million bounty placed on his head for simply doing his job. No pleasing some people is there Santino?!
It’s obvious our morally questionable hero survives (John Wick 3 anyone?), but watching him do it is where the real fun is.
Unlike the first movie, Chapter 2 is less a puppy avenging bloodbath and more just an all out gun fest. The action is mindless and fun – just how cinema should be at times – but the battle scenes drag, especially three prominent gun fu fights which could easily have been cut short. Sometimes it almost slips into a first person shooter video game, which isn’t enjoyable to watch if you’re not a gamer.
Apart from the too long run time, Chapter 2 stays true to the first movie and is an easy watch. Reeves is, well Reeves, but the supporting cast really help to make it. Reeve’s Matrix co-star Laurence Fishburne is brilliant as crime lord The Bowery King, who uses men masquerading as homeless bums and old school pigeon carriers to rule New York City. Mark our words, this character is primed to be further developed in the next film. The always brilliant Ian McShane is back as suave British crime boss Winston, as is is concierge Charon (Lance Reddick). Common is good in his franchise debut, with Cassian and John taking banter to a whole new level with their talk of killing each other.
At the heart of the film is the almost superhuman John, and yes he bleeds if you cut him, but the guy literally feels no pain! We’re looking forward to seeing how many people he can single-handedly kill in the third outing.
© Cover Media