MOVIE REVIEW: John Wick Chapter 2

 

Have you seen the thriller, John Wick? Well, our in-house reviewer, Ebuka Nzeji did a review and you would love to know what he thinks of the movie.

Reviewer: Ebuka E. Nzeji

Screenwriter:

Derek Kolstad

Cinematographer: Dan Laustsen

Editor: Evan Schiff

Choreographer: Chad Stahelski, J.J. Perry, Jonathan Eusebio

Music: Tyler Bates, Joel J. Richard

Producer: Basil Iwanyk, Erica Lee

Director: Chad Stahelski

Production Company: Lionsgate, Thunder Road Pictures, 87Eleven Productions

Distribution Company: Summit Entertainment

Runtime: 122 minutes

Genre: Neo-noir action thriller

Release date: 10 February, 2017, in the United States of America

Starring

Keanu Reeves as John Wick

Bridget Moynahan as Helen Wick

Laurence Fishburne as The Bowery King

Ian McShane as Winston

Common as Cassian

Peter Stomare as Abram Tarasov

Ruby Rose as Ares

Riccardo Scamarcio as Santino D'Antonio

Claudia Gerini as Gianna D'Antonio

Lance Reddick as Charon

John Leguizamo as Aurelio

and

Franco Nero as Julius

Synopsis

John Wick returns to retrieve his beloved car, a 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1, stolen by the Tarasov Family run Russian Mob. He fights his way through the Tarasov Chop Shop to retrieve his car. It is badly dented in the process. He asks Aurelio to fix the car. Santino D'Antonio pays John Wick a visit, asking him to honour the Marker (a promise sealed with blood in a blood oath medallion). This was to serve as a payment to Santino for helping John retire...home to his wife. John refuses to honour the Marker. Santino burns down John's home. John meets Winston at The Continental, in his quest to exact vengeance on Santino. Winston instructs him to honour Santino's Marker first, in adherence to Rule 2, before exacting his vengeance on him. John honours Santino's Marker. And Santino asks John to kill his sister Gianna D'Antonio. John kills Gianna, but Santino deceitfully places a $7 million bounty on his head. John is vexed! And all hell breaks loose from this point!

CRITIQUE

The Good

One thing that struck me as outstanding in this movie, was the world in which it was set. A unique vintage, noir-esque, sophisticated and highly organized underworld. The setting prepared my mind for what to expect. A beautiful yet grotesque, gritty, and gruesome world, filled with beautiful yet cruel, cold and calculating people. It reminds me of the setting in Zack Snyder's 2011 fantasy action film "Sucker Punch". The sight of the uniformly dressed women working their hands off, on vintage-looking equipment and gadgets, really left me in awe...!

The story was both character-driven and plot-driven, and had a heart too. You could literally feel the action and drive, as well as the motive and emotion fueling the desires of the characters, especially John Wick and Cassian. The plot was well held together by the cord that binds this gripping story: vengeance. It never ever deviated from that path of vengeance. As John Wick, Cassian, and Santino D'Antonio all sought vengeance for the ones the love. It was so emotive that you can actually empathize with and feel John Wick's loneliness. That was what I loved about the story. The exciting way the plot was resolved, even leaving room for more, shows how much of a very talented storyteller and screenwriter Derek Kolstad is.

The dialogue was simply amazing! Very terse, yet concise. Very witty, yet weighty. The banter between John Wick and Cassian blew me away! The dialogue of this film was expertly written and dispatched. My best line in this film is: "consider it a professional courtesy".

The Cinematography was just top-notch. The Close-up shots on John Wick's face were simply a marvel to watch. The way John Wick's face filled the right part of the screen, is somewhat reminiscent of the awe-inspiring Close-up shot of Kratos' face in the opening sequence of Sony's hit video game, "God of War". The use of diagonal low-angle medium shots was quite prevalent in this film; giving it an art house feel. This could be seen in the scene where John Wick was talking with Winston on the rooftop of The Continental. As artistic as these experimental low-angle shots were, my best shot in this film, was the high-angle shot, that captured the scene where John Wick and his dog stood outside watching their inflamed home burn to the ground. It was simply tear-jerking and breath-taking, at the same time. While my best action sequence, was the potshots exchange between John Wick and Cassian, en-route the subway.

The choreography and action sequences were simply balletic and gunfuliciouslly Mwah! And let me say this: the Director, Chad Stahelski, a former stuntsman himself, and the Choreographer , J.J. Perry did an awesome job with the martial arts choreography of this film. Jonathan Eusebio who also did a great job as the Choreographer in the first film, also lent a hand in this one.

 

The casting was apt. I was so happy to see Neo reunite with Morpheus in this film. The actors were all impressive, I must say: from Keanu Reeves to Franco Nero. My standout performers were Keanu Reeves, Peter Stomare, Common, Laurence Fishburne,Ian McShane, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ruby Rose, Claudia Gerini, Franco Nero, and in fact all of them!

The Bad

I felt John Leguizamo should have been given more screen time. He was really rearing to go. But he teased and disappeared, only to reappear, in a flash, in the closing sequences of the film. He would have given the film much width. More like a side-kick width. Just saying, though.

I also felt and thought that the fight scene that had John Wick squaring up with Cassian, at the Catacombs, was dragged on for a tad too long.

Ares was hyped and built up to portend a serious threat to John Wick. But she didn't even last more than a couple of seconds, during the face-off with him!

The Ugly

Why on earth did they allow John Wick to slice someone's balls and crucify people with a freaking pencil?! Now, they'll have to go through the wahala of raising those bars in Chapter 3! Just saying.

Commentary

John Wick: Chapter 2, is the new benchmark for neo-noir action/crime thrillers. Any other movie coming soon in this genre, will have to best this! John Wick: Chapter 2, to me, is currently the action movie with the highest number of body count ever, by a single protagonist; displacing John Woo's 1987 classic, "A Better Tomorrow 2" to 2nd place. Keanu Reeves has just dethroned Chow Yun-fat, who previously held that crown.

Verdict

I give this film 4.5 stars out of 5. It's an awesome movie!

 

 

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