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Tuesday, 13 June 2017

DVD Of The Week: John Wick - Chapter Two (2017)




The first John Wick was a total surprise for me. In truth, I only watched it because I was impressed by the trailer for this sequel, having totally missed the original when it came out. And, as I said in my first review, I was completely blown away by it.

John Wick: Chapter Two opens with a pre-credits continuation of the first story, with John (an on-point Keanu Reeves) tracking down his stolen car.

Mere days have passed and the supercool, highly-feared, hitman-vigilante is hoping to return to his quiet life of retirement with his new dog (to avoid any unnecessary tension I'll spoil things now by revealing that, this time, absolutely nothing bad happens to the dog).

Unfortunately, an old 'friend', mafioso Santino D'Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio), calls in a "marker" - a favour John owes him for his helping John get out of 'the life' in the first place.

He wants John to kill his older sister, Gianna D'Antonio (Claudia Gerini), who inherited their father's place at The High Table (the secretive criminal organisation that runs the global underworld).

And things spiral from there, eventually leading to John running a gauntlet of hitmen through New York after a $7 million contract is put on his life, culminating in a shoot-out in a mirrored art exhibition that's Enter The Dragon on a larger scale, with more participants and more mayhem.

Chapter Two breaks the usual sequel curse by wisely keeping everything that worked in the original movie, but taking it to the next level.

It maintains hyper-real, larger than life, mythological quality of the events and settings established in John Wick and as encapsulated by the worldwide network of Continental Hotels that serve as strictly-enforced 'neutral territory' for the various rigidly-run criminal enterprises.

The background to Wick's world is sold with such conviction that despite the large-scale mayhem and carnage it is wholly believable, in the same way that we accept the over-the-top cinematic antics of James Bond.

A lot of credit for this verisimilitude must go to writer Derek Kolstad, who penned the first two and is working on the next John Wick, for creating such rounded, well-developed, characters and such layered background details to the world, while kudos for the continuing neo-noir style of the movies goes to director Chad Stahelski and cinematographer Dan Laustsen (who replaces Jonathan Sela on the sequel).

Looking past the Grand Guignol-levels of violence, John Wick: Chapter Two is a gorgeous film, with fantastic set-pieces serving as memorable backdrops to breath-taking stunts, raucous car chases, balletic fisticuffs, and extended gun fights that would make Sam Peckinpah very happy.

Now that I'm fully immersed in the oeuvre of John Wick, it doesn't surprise me in the least that the character is making the move to comics (courtesy of Dynamite) and there's even talk of a possible TV series.

In the meantime, I can now safely say I'm as excited for Chapter Three as any superhero flick.

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