Randy’s Review: ‘John Wick: Chapter 2'

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Reeves, Fishburne reunite with violent outcomes

If there was a lesson to be taken away from the original "John Wick" — played with zero personality by Keanu Reeves — it's don't mess with his stuff, particularly his dog or his car. And the movie picks up not long after the conclusion of the first film. Having avenged the murderer of his dog, the former contract hitman, Wick sets out to locate his Ford Mustang from a Russian gangster uncle of the first film's bad guy.

Battered but not beaten, Wick lays waste the Tarasov henchmen, recovering his vehicle only to have it trashed during the escape. A short time after returning home in an effort to return to his retired existence, he is visited at his residence by a familiar face, Santonio D'Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio), who calls in a marker. D'Antonio wants Wick to eliminate his sister, Gianna (Claudia Gerini), so he can take her place at the high table. When Wick refuses, D'Antonio blows up his home. Wick consults with Winston (Ian McShane), owners of The Continental, a New York hotel and hangout for other hitman types. Winston informs Wick that he is obligated to the marker and if he refuses, it will cost him his life.

Reluctantly, Wick heads to Rome to take out the sister — who he calls friend. And once the deed is done, he finds himself marked for death by her bodyguard, Cassian (Common), as well as D'Antonio's clean up crew led by Ares (Ruby Rose). Somehow Wick escapes only to find D'Antonio has put a $7 million tag on his head, bringing out a legion of hitmen and assassins all looking to cash in. But Wick has other plans which involve taking out D'Antonio — but he will have to run the gauntlet and survive the night, battling the blood hungry hordes in order to see his will to completion.

Along the way, Wick calls on a society of assassins living as the homeless, working for The Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne), a crime lord who Wick once allowed to live. With the King's help, Wick just might live to see his vengeance exacted ... but will Wick ever officially retire to the peaceful life he so longs for? Apparently we will have to wait for the third John Wick film to find out.

Not sure I've ever seen more gun violence in a film and that's really saying something. It was great to see Reeves and Fishburne back together since the first shared the screen as Neo and Morpheus in the also uber-violent “Matrix” trilogy. If there's one thing these two know how to do, it's generate a body count. And they do it good. If you like non-stop action, adrenaline-pumping pace and lots of death by gun, fist, knife or vehicle, this could be your cup of tea. If not, consider yourself warned. And if I were a betting man, this is not the last we will have seen of the virtually indestructible Wick.

On a scale of 5 popcorn buckets, "John Wick: Chapter 2," earns 3 tubs of popcorn with the smoky smell of recently discharged casings. This is like "The Matrix" with more violence, the only difference is, the number of deaths seems far less believable set in the "real world" as opposed to the Matrix computer-generated world. MPAA rating: R. Running time: 2 hours, 2 minutes. This film was reviewed at Southpark 7 Theatres in Spencer.