John Wick Chapter 2 (2016)

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****REVIEW CONTAINS SLIGHT SPOILERS****

After avenging the death of his dog in the first film, our long suffering anti-hero John Wick finds himself once again pulled back out of retirement to pay off an old debt.  This job ends up with Wick seeking vengeance and finding himself way in over his head.  Chapter 2 chronicles the whole ordeal of Wick traveling to Rome and back to the US where he ends up killing half the population of New York while trying to stay alive.

John Wick Chapter 2 is an instant classic. We got a glimpse of the underground world in which John was drawn back into, and Chapter 2 spends it’s time expanding on this. John can’t catch a break, and is forced to battle his way out of the old lifestyle. Along the way he battles many other assassins, such as the mute cutie Ares (Ruby Rose, Orange is the New Black) and the stoic Cassian (Common). After the first half of the film sets up the plot, the second half lets John Wick run loose through several amazing set pieces while everyone is trying to kill him. Along the way, some familiar faces return, and a familiar face to fans of Italian cinema shows up as the owner of the Italian branch of the Continental.

Director Chad Stahelski, who directed the first John Wick understands what fans want from hyperactive action fantasy movies, as it’s a niche he’s worked in now for almost three decades. Stahelski worked as stunt double for Brandon Lee in The Crow and Keanu Reeves in The Matrix.  In addition, he’s worked in just about every major action/fantasy franchise of the past twenty years, from 300 to the Hunger Games, Stahelski has had a hand in. He knows how to craft the right type of mood and setting to make this type of material work, and because of this lifetime of experience, John Wick 2 emerges as a masterclass in modern action cinema.insanely over the top.  It’s going to take a lot of smart writing to keep Chapter 3 from completely going off the rails, or jumping the shark.  Here’s hoping John Wick 3 can stand beside A Nightmare on Elm St. 3 as a rare example of a third film done right.

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