By Bradley Griffith
He once killed three men in a bar. With a pencil. Keanu Reeves returns as the deadly assassin John Wick, who wants nothing more than to return to his peaceful life of retirement in the countryside. “John Wick 2” is now in theaters.
“John Wick 2” picks up where the first movie ended. All John (Keanu Reeves) wants to do is get his car back from those who stole it and go home. Shortly after the events of the first movie John returns to the seedy underworld of organized crime in New York to take back what is his. The attempt at stealing his 1969 Mustang from Russian mobsters makes for a memorable opening sequence.
John finally makes it home. After only a brief respite the doorbell rings. Reluctantly, John opens the door to find Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) on his doorstep. Santino is an Italian crime lord from the city. His father recently passed away and his sister, Gianna D’Antonio (Claudia Gerini), has inherited the throne to the ill-gotten empire. John doesn’t even want to invite Santino into his home, but he has no choice.
Santino asks John for a favor. John refuses the request without even asking the nature of the favor. John’s retired, he claims. Santino produces a marker. A marker is a medallion with John’s fingerprint in blood inside. His fingerprint represents a blood oath he made to Santino. Essentially, the marker means John pledged to perform any task requested by Santino. It was the only way John could get out of a life of crime. Still, John refuses the marker.
Not surprisingly, Santino does not take this denial of the marker well. He destroys John’s home. After seeking advice from an old friend, Winston (Ian McShane), John decides to play along and perform Santino’s request. Before he turns his considerable talents on Santino.
“John Wick 2” is the mother of all action movies. It’s the unquestioned king of shoot-em-up movies. John is an unstoppable force of nature, a pure killing machine. They call him the Boogeyman with good reason. He leaves a veritable river of dead bodies in his wake. The body count seems endless. The entire movie feels like one long gun battle, with a few scenes of hand-to-hand combat.
The gunfights and fist fights are incredible. The choreography of the fights scenes required the actors to perform with almost perfect timing and incredible physical abilities. The running, jumping, flipping, falling, shooting, and fighting was almost non-stop and was simply amazing. It’s obvious that Keanu Reeves had significant training with weapons and hand-to-hand combat to perform the physical requirements of the role.
Rapper Common makes a memorable return as Cassian, a steely-eyed assassin who is nearly as adept at his trade as John Wick. Of all of the considerable amount of men and women who are dispatched to dispatch John, Cassian stands alone as the one person who might be up to the task. John and Cassian engage in more than one memorable round of combat.
Action, action, action. That’s what you expect with “John Wick 2.” You want guns blazing, fists flying, and cars roaring, and that is exactly what you get. It’s refreshing, and unusual, to get from a movie exactly what you were wanting and expecting. Fans of the series will be happy to know that the movie’s ending sets up a third installment of the series.
Rated R for strong violence throughout, some language, and brief nudity.