Tuesday, February 14, 2017

[Review] John Wick: Chapter 2


He's built a reputation as a cult action icon and a notorious assassin. The eyes of his enemies widen at the mere mention of his name. He's the Boogeyman, but real. Even Chuck Norris can't hold a candle to him. He's John freaking Wick.

Keanu Reeves reprises his role as the titular character--the man who in 2014's John Wick went on one of the greatest revenge sprees of all time after a group of mobsters stole his car and even worse--killed his puppy (tear). This time around, despite wanting to get out of the hitman game, John Wick gets sucked into a new mission by the organization he gave a blood oath to, and things get... messy, as the narrative plays out like an operatic purgatory of maximal violence.

In a welcome move, Director Chad Stahelski has also returned for Chapter 2. So even if the film doesn't spark the initial surprise of its predecessor--the fact that it retains everything that made the first one great and propels it tenfold--renders it as not only a more-than-worthy sequel, but also one of the best modern action flicks you'll see. What elevates it is the striking cinematography: the rain-glistened streets, the floods of neon, and the careful attention to detail--from the lush lighting to the aesthetically pleasing frames. The picture's artfulness often recalls the visual splendor of other acclaimed action films like Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive or Sam Mendes' Skyfall.

It also possesses a sly sense of humor. As brutal as things get, there are plenty of amusing reaction shots and funny lines to make you chuckle in between the madness. And that brings me to the film's money shots, and by "money shots" I mean the top-notch action sequences. They're choreographed with an exhilarating and stylish flair without being muddled by rapid cutting or shaky cam (thank goodness). And simply put--they're just really cool. To name a few things, we get to see John Wick engage in an intense knife fight with Common on a subway, shoot his way through catacombs and an elaborate hall of digital mirrors and sliding doors, and singlehandedly kill three men with a pencil!

As Kanye West once said in a song, "Any rumor you ever heard about me was true and legendary." The same could be said of John Wick. The guy keeps reiterating his desire to retire, but for the sake of us all--let's hope he doesn't.

* 9/10 *

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