John Wick is back!

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AP

This image released by Lionsgate shows Keanu Reeves, left, and Laurence Fishburne in a scene from, “John Wick: Chapter 2.” (Niko Tavernise/Lionsgate via AP)

Fabian Brims, Staff Writer

John Wick was one of the movies no one had on their list when it came out three years ago. However, it was very successful, bringing in profit more than four times higher than its $20 million budget. No surprise that the producers wanted to make a sequel; in fact a whole trilogy. But can John Wick: Chapter 2 live up to such high expectations?

John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is a hitman, one of the best, but seeks to retire after his wife’s (Bridget Moynahan) death. He cuts all ties with his acquaintances and tries to live a peaceful life with the new dog he found at the end of the first movie. However, mobster Santino D’Antino (Riccardo Scamarcio) pays him a visit and demands Wick to uphold an old blood oath he once took. John Wick then gets pulled back in the crime world he wants to leave, and on the way out the body count rises to unprecedented dimensions.

AP
This image released by Lionsgate shows Keanu Reeves in a scene from, “John Wick: Chapter 2.” (Niko Tavernise/Lionsgate via AP)

John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is a hitman, one of the best, but seeks to retire after his wife’s (Bridget Moynahan) death. He cuts all ties with his acquaintances and tries to live a peaceful life with the new dog he found at the end of the first movie. However, mobster Santino D’Antino (Riccardo Scamarcio) pays him a visit and demands Wick to uphold an old blood oath he once took. John Wick then gets pulled back in the crime world he wants to leave, and on the way out the body count rises to unprecedented dimensions.

This movie is the opposite of a “chick flick”. Similar to films like ‘The Fast and Furious’ series or ‘Hardcore Henry’, this is essentially two hours of action. There’s fighting, shooting, and the coolest one-liners since Bruce Willis saved the world in ‘Die Hard’. ‘John Wick Chapter 2’ delivers on the promises of the first part, and it’s definitely one of the best action movies of recent years.

The fights and shootouts are masterfully choreographed, and the punches are so hard you can almost hear bones cracking. Director Chad Stahelski was Keanu Reeves’ stuntman for ‘The Matrix’ trilogy, and he certainly knows how to make a fight look good (and painful!). He always finds something refreshing to break the tension and create action scenes that don’t feel repetitive. John Wick is the MacGyver among the contract killers and, in a sequence, he knows how to make use of a pencil better than Joker in ‘The Dark Knight’. Nothing and no one is safe when Wick is angry.

With this series, Reeves found the perfect franchise. Although often mocked for his acting abilities, he is in his element when it comes to action movies like ‘Speed’, ‘Point Break’ and ‘The Matrix.’ The ‘John Wick’ trilogy will further reinforce Reeves’ image as an action icon. On Wick’s side, together for the first time since ‘Matrix Revolutions’, is Laurence Fishburne. Rapper Common has one of the bigger parts in the movie, and he does a good job embodying the role as bodyguard Cassian on a revenge trip. In cameos, John Leguizamo and Bridget Moynahan reprise their roles from part one.

While the producers were able to preserve most of the crew, Dan Laustsen replaced Jonthan Sela as cinematographer. There is no worry to change since Laustsen brings back the cold look and the steadiness that make following the complex choreographies a joy. He also adds new notes, for example when Wick gets attacked by his enemies in a mirror-cabinet-like museum exhibition.

‘John Wick Chapter 2’ is a highly entertaining movie, but its testosterone-driven nature doesn’t make it a perfect date movie. Still, should the ladies crave for one of the best shootouts in recent years, Wick’s second outing should pack more action than ‘50 Shades Darker’, which starts on the same weekend in the theaters.
When you know what to expect, there is no way to be bored when watching the high-octane ‘John Wick Chapter 2’.

John Wick Chapter 2 (2017); directed by Chad Stahelski; written by Derek Kolstad; cinematography by Dan Laustsen; with Keanu Reeves, Common, Laurence Fishburne, Riccardo Scamarcio, John Leguizamo, Bridged Moynahan; 122 min; R-rated

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