By Ryan Keating-Lambert

★★★★☆

Keanu Reeves is back on bloody excellent form for the much anticipated sequel to John Wick. An extremely entertaining and artsy action sequel from the crew behind The Matrix.

Directed by Chad Stahelski, John Wick: Chapter 2 sees John Wick (Keanu Reeves), the ‘boogeyman’ hitman of the NYC crime underworld, back after being blackmailed into one last job – to assassinate an international crime figure in Rome. However, as expected, there’s a more sinister force at play here and a very large bounty ends up on his head. Cue kick-ass action sequences and a multitude of blood and money hungry hitmen… and women.

This film is so much fun. It’s entertaining, refreshing and above all, an excellent sequel. Let’s talk about the fight scenes. They’re BRILLIANT, probably because director Stahelski knows his stuff, after all, he entered the industry as a stuntman, and quite a good one at that. The incredibly fluid fight scenes are so well choreographed and original. Not once do they fall into the cheap close range camera shaking that’s overused in majority of other regurgitated action movies. Yes Marvel and DC, I’m looking at you.

There are so many memorable scenes that it’s hard to even choose what the best one is. But the finale is well worth it. Mirrors, so many mirrors. There’s also a great subway scene where Wick and Cassian (Common) are trying to shoot each other discretely through a crowd of peak hour commuters. I don’t want to ruin it for you all, so I’ll shut up now. Let’s just say that Reeves must have had a colourful collection of bruises to show off when production ended.

Every character that didn’t perish in horribly violent ways is back for more in this round, plus some newbies too. Riccardo Scamarcio plays crime boss ‘Santino’, the new bad guy. He’s pretty short… but has a endless supply of hitmen and assassins at his disposal. Ruby Rose is great as his deaf right-hand woman and oozes style and steam every time she’s on screen, but it’s her snappy and brutally cold fight scenes that are going to make her the next Milla Jovovich, whom she recently acted alongside in Resident Evil: The Final Chapter.

BUT, the most welcomed newcomer is Lawrence Fishburne’s ‘Bowery King’ and his underground army of homeless assassins. It’s like watching Morpheus with more attitude and a sh-t load of…pigeons. The Matrix geek inside of me was jumping for joy seeing Fishburne and Reeves reunited. First time they’ve worked together since The Matrix Revolutions, 13 years ago.

This film stays reasonably true to the first in the sense that, aside from characters, it also brings back that industrial / western soundtrack by Tyler Bates, and those trademark neon cyber-punkish glows that made the first so memorable. In an attempt to beat that ‘Red Circle’ club scene in the first they go one step further with an epic party in Rome’s catacombs. Pretty cool, but I still prefer the Red Circle.

Although the visuals are extremely well-tailored, they never get lost in themselves like, let’s say Nicholas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives or Neon Demon. The dialogue however, like the first, is pretty limited. But in a way, the fight scenes are so well choreographed that they’re all conversations of their own.

Keanu Reeves, although not the greatest actor in the world, once again proves that he still has some fight in him, and we love it.

Photo: Black Girl Nerds

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