Movie Review: John Wick: Chapter 2, a Solid Return for Keanu Reeves's Laconic Hit Man, Runs on Muscle Cars and Muscle Memory | Arts
Arts
INDY Week's arts blog

Archives | RSS | Follow on

Friday, February 10, 2017

Movie Review: John Wick: Chapter 2, a Solid Return for Keanu Reeves's Laconic Hit Man, Runs on Muscle Cars and Muscle Memory

Posted by Google on Fri, Feb 10, 2017 at 10:24 AM

click to enlarge PHOTO BY NIKO TAVERNISE
  • photo by Niko Tavernise
John Wick: Chapter 2
★★★ ½
Now playing

“You’re not very good at retiring,” observes a crime lord played by Laurence Fishburne in John Wick: Chapter 2. “I’m workin’ on it,” responds Wick, the laconic hit man reprised by Keanu Reeves. This reunion of Neo and Morpheus is apropos, as Reeves was very much workin’ on his de facto retirement following the end of the Matrix trilogy in 2003. Forgettable parts in forgettable films were suddenly and rather inexplicably interrupted in 2014, when the original John Wick, an unheralded neo-noir, become an instant cult classic and resuscitated Reeves’s career.

Director Chad Stahelski’s viscera-strewn John Wick: Chapter 2 runs on muscle cars and muscle memory. Gone is the disarming simplicity of the first film's narrative, a revenge quest wrapped up during Chapter 2’s cold open that started, we’re conspicuously reminded, because some knuckleheads stole Wick’s car and killed his dog. Also missing is the original’s sense of discovery, with its hit man code and peculiar assassins’ society, and its revelation that Keanu Reeves can still star in a good action movie.

Once again, Wick wants to wall off his violent past and live out his days in peace with his new pooch. Trouble quickly comes knocking when fellow assassin Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) decides to cash in on Wick’s broken blood oath to leave the hit man business. D’Antonio holds a "marker" over Wick and demands that he knock off D’Antonio’s sister, Gianna (Claudia Gerini) so D’Antonio can assume her place on the assassin's council and take control over the New York City crime syndicate.

Wick is caught in a catch-22: refusing to comply with D’Antonio’s demand is punishable by death under the rules of the Continental Hotel, the assassin's safe haven, now expanded into a worldwide regulatory agency. Killing Gianna will prompt D'Antonio to tie up loose ends under the guise of demanding satisfaction for the death of his sister.

That’s the long route to John Wick. Chapter 2’s ultimate destination is a bevy of bullets and bloody action, as Wick’s Wile E. Coyote must run a gauntlet of guns and contract killers, starting with the formidable Cassian (Common), Gianna’s bodyguard, and culminating with a mute enforcer (Ruby Rose) who communicates solely in sign language.

Wick remains equal parts Clint Eastwood and Steve McQueen. Chapter 2 plunges him into a stylized iteration of Dante’s Inferno that skews close to Gareth Evans’s The Raid. The action vignettes run from the catacombs of Rome to a gleaming white NYC subway station to a hall of mirrors sequence—inspired, in part, by The Lady from Shanghai and Enter the Dragon—inside a modern-art exhibit appropriately titled “Reflections of the Soul.”

John Wick: Chapter 2 reinforces the idea that even mindless violence can and should be smartly made, and its open-ended denouement is a testament to the series’s now-bankable popularity and inevitable third act. It looks like John Wick, and Keanu Reeves, will have to put off that retirement a little while longer.


Tags: , , , ,

Pin It

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Arts



Twitter Activity

Comments

I agree that the vocal work is incredible! And, I thought that the well-made and beautifully-designed set really supported the …

by Judy Dove on Theater Review: Dogfight's Regional Premiere at NRACT Is Rich in Emotion But Meager in Staging (Arts)

In the last 5 years, 11 of the 15 musicals NRACT produced were premieres in the region. I commend them …

by James Ilsley on Theater Review: Dogfight's Regional Premiere at NRACT Is Rich in Emotion But Meager in Staging (Arts)

Most Recent Comments

I agree that the vocal work is incredible! And, I thought that the well-made and beautifully-designed set really supported the …

by Judy Dove on Theater Review: Dogfight's Regional Premiere at NRACT Is Rich in Emotion But Meager in Staging (Arts)

In the last 5 years, 11 of the 15 musicals NRACT produced were premieres in the region. I commend them …

by James Ilsley on Theater Review: Dogfight's Regional Premiere at NRACT Is Rich in Emotion But Meager in Staging (Arts)

Instead of luxury apartments(AHEM Carborro) and new restaurants, build more parking?!(Just one parking garage would help a lot, cover it …

by ammi on The Bookshop Brought Many Rare and First Editions—and Two Famous Cats—to Franklin Street for Thirty-Two Years (Arts)

The last thing Chapel Hill needs is another damn restaurant.

by Chrysser on The Bookshop Brought Many Rare and First Editions—and Two Famous Cats—to Franklin Street for Thirty-Two Years (Arts)

Wow. I guess you can't recognize brilliant satire when you see it. This was an amazing performance that if you …

by Sam Bayer on ADF Review: Hillel Kogan's We Love Arabs Lags Behind a Cultural Conversation Already Well Underway in Our Region's Performing Arts Scene (Arts)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation