BRUTAL “JOHN WICK 2” PACKS A WALLOP; “POWERLESS” ON TV
A TV Review by Tim Riley
JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 (Rated R) The unexpected success of Keanu Reeves as a legendary hit man in the titular role of “John Wick” in 2014, a demanding task of full-blown action requiring a blend of martial arts and gunplay, screamed for a sequel.With an even higher body count when Reeves’ John Wick takes on various henchmen of criminal enterprises, “John Wick: Chapter 2” delivers the high-octane action thrills on a much grander scale of mayhem than the original.Remember that in the first film it was the senseless killing of his dog that threw John Wick into a fury of brutal vengeance. It all kicks off this time when he retrieves his beloved 1969 Mustang from a treacherous Russian gang.
Having attempted to retire from the underworld when he got married, the now widowed Wick has been trying to put his criminal life behind him, but to no avail when the bad guys are restless and unforgiving. After a high-speed chase on New York City streets, John’s plans to have a quiet civilian life are cut short when Italian gangster Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) shows up on his doorstep with a marker compelling the repayment of past favors. Taking refuge at the Continental, neutral ground for killers in a hotel run by the imperious Winston (Ian McShane), Wick realizes he has no choice but to respect the ancient code of fulfilling a marker, no matter how odious the assignment. As a result, Wick is off to Rome to do Santino’s dirty work and soon comes to know that the contract killing would have the very unfortunate consequence of granting Santino a seat at the “High Table,” an international criminal cartel.
Penetrating an ornate villa during a gala event to fulfill the hit, Wick is soon chased through the ruins of a Roman bathhouse by an endless stream of heavily-armed thugs. But the best confrontation is with his target’s devoted bodyguard Cassian (Common) as well as with Santino’s lethal colleague, the mute but dexterous androgynous fighter Ares (Ruby Rose). The second chapter of “John Wick” ends with the seemingly obvious allusion to another installment, where it appears without any doubt that the body count will mount even higher as the titular character will face off with an ostensibly endless throng of assassins. To be sure, John Wick has more lives than a cat, and it’s hard to imagine that he won’t have a welcome return for more chaotic mayhem. Here’s hoping that his mechanic Aurelio (John Leguizamo) has restored the classic Mustang for more thrilling street action.