Commentaries

Thursday, February 9, 2017

JOHN WICK CHAPTER 2



IT'S EARLY, BUT ONE OF THE YEAR'S BEST

Film Review by Fiore 


Back in 2014, Keanu Reeves starred as a mob hitman in JOHN WICK.  The film made my best of the year list and became an instant classic.  JOHN WICK CHAPTER 2 is every bit as good as the first.  So, we have JOHN WICK being epic; and JOHN WICK CHAPTER 2 being epic.  Do you sense a pattern?

JOHN WICK CHAPTER 2 begins right after the conclusion of the first.  Wick finally finds his precious car and seeks to retrieve it.  Once all the loose ends from the first film are tied, Wick, finally, retires, only to have a mob boss call in a personal marker, which pulls Wick out of his planned idyllic life and throws him back into the assassination game.  It’s just enough of a plot to springboard the film into its intended milieu – a non-stop series of spectacular action sequences.

Reeves is back as the monotone one-man killing machine.  Reprising their respective roles from the first film are Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, Bridget Moynahan and Lance Reddick.  New to this chapter are Common, Laurence Fishburne, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ruby Rose and Franco Nero.  It is amusing when Fishburne and Reeves first appear on screen together.  Fishburne says:  “I met Mr. Wick many years ago.”  And you truly expect him to add, “didn’t we Neo?” and offer him either a blue or red pill.  Sweet.


KEY SCENES TO LOOK FOR:

1.      CAR RETREVAL
2.      ESCAPE FROM THE PARTY
3.      MIRROR ROOM

JOHN WICK CHAPTER 2 offers excellent action cinematography from Dan Lausten.  There are especially fine street level shoots during both the car chase and fight scenes.   Evan Schiff keeps the film rolling; there is literally no time to catch your breath as each minute is either exploding with action, or serving as a tense interlude.   This confirms my mantra of one editor per film.  Schiff had a non-stop vision, and executes it with aplomb.
 
What makes a movie like JOHN WICK CHAPTER 2 appealing is its emersion in actual fighting techniques.  Reeves, and his antagonists, utilize a blend of traditional marital arts moves, mixed with Gracie Jujitsu take-downs.  The weapons are all utilized in proper tactical fashion.  There are no completely unbelievable stunts, as in Vin Diesel’s recent XXX: THE RETURN OF XANDER CAGE.

Before the opening of JOHN WICK CHAPTER 2, Reeves issued a press release claiming he is interested in participating in JOHN WICK CHAPTER 3.  Following the pattern already established, it should also be epic.  Let’s take a look at the report card for JOHN WICK CHAPTER 2.

ACTING = B
CINEMATOGRAPHY = A
SOUND/MUSIC = B
EDITING = A
LIGHTING =A
SCRIPT =B
SFX = A
ACTION = A

THE MATRIX is not the only film given homage in JOHN WICK CHAPTER 2.  During the climax, Wick pursues a mob boss into a room of mirrors.  It’s a play on Bruce Lee’s classic conclusion in ENTER THE DRAGON.  This time, however, the mirror room is more modern, with opening glass doors and a changing light display.  It’s a nice twist to an old standard.  




You can’t go wrong with this one.  Definitely worth the price of admission, and then some.  It’s only February, but already JOHN WICK CHAPTER 2 goes down as one of the year’s best.

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