John Wick: Chapter 2
Chad Stahelski’s John Wick: Chapter 2, as the title suggests, picks up the story where its predecessor left us – with the bruised and bloodied but seemingly indestructible Wick (Keanu Reeves in a role that demands very little acting but a lot of close-contact sparring) intent on reclaiming his purloined Mustang from a Russian mobster whose son nicked it in the first movie (and killed Wick’s dog) and was eviscerated by Wick for his trouble. The opening sequence sets the muscle-and-mayhem bar pretty high as Wick pulverizes automotive and human bodies that are in his way. By the end of the opening 10 minutes of Chapter 2, the body count is already approaching 50 with bullets flying through flesh and crania and blood covering walls, floors and furniture. It’s a riot. But there’s no rest for the weary because even after deciding to retire from the assassin’s trade, a visit from an effete Italian mobster (Riccardo Scarmarcio) pulls Wick back in. The sequence that follows Wick as he gets outfitted by assorted specialists in the Italian weapons and sartorial underground is great fun, played tongue-in-cheek, but not as amusing as the gunfight in the Roman catacombs or the fight on a New York subway between Wick and fellow killer Cassian (Common) or the one in a mirrored exhibit in an art museum. Yes, it’s all deafening and numbingly violent but so outlandish that you can’t help but go with it. It’s Grand Guignol theater but at least they don’t kill the dog this time.