Chad Stahelski (director)
Warner Bros Home Entertainment (studio)
12 June 2017 (released)
14 June 2017
Keanu Reeves returns as retired hitman John Wick, a one-man army who says “yeah’ a lot and not much else. Just how Wick survives even the first hour of this adrenalin-packed action spectacle defies any laws of nature… and that’s just the first hour!
Taking off where the first film ended, Wick (K. Reeves) finally tracks down his stolen vintage Ford Mustang Mach 1 at a so-called ‘chop shop’ – a secret place in which stolen automobiles are dissembled for the purpose of selling on individual parts. The shop is run by Russian gangster Abram Tarasov (Peter Stormare), brother of Viggo and uncle of Josef – both characters from the first Wick adventure. When Tarasov warns his men that everything they’d ever heard of Wick is “watered down” he isn’t kidding: in the spectacular opening sequence Wick manages to dispatch almost all of Tarasov’s men – a violent and relentless fight during which Wick’s car suffers a heavy battering but he emerges only with a few cuts and bruises. Yeah! But Wick is not just a killing machine, he spares Tarasov’s life as a token of peace.
Back home, Wick, whose beloved wife succumbed to a terminal illness in the first film, is in the process of preparing dinner when he is visited by Italian crime lord Santino (Riccardo Scamarcio) – a blast from the past who has come to remind Wick to honour a sort of contract called a ‘Marker’ – an unbreakable promise where a fingerprint dipped in blood is pressed inside a medallion. When Santino shows the medallion to Wick and demands that he honour his promise he declines with the explanation that he is simply retired from ‘business’. Santino leaves the place with the remark “you have a very nice house, Mr. Wick” and we just know that something bad is about to happen… as indeed it does just minutes later when Santino torches the house with a grenade launcher (as you do). It goes without saying that Wick miraculously survives the attack as does his loyal dog (and seemingly only friend in the world) whom Wick simply calls ‘Boy’. Arriving at New York’s Continental hotel in an utterly dishevelled state, Wick meets with owner Winston (Ian McShane), a shady figure who reminds Wick that he must honour his ‘Marker’ or else he will be violating one of the unbreakable rules of the underworld. Wick realises that there is no way out of his debacle and reluctantly meets up with Santino who confronts him with a particularly unpleasant task…namely to assassinate his sister Gianna (Claudia Gerini) – leader of the Sicilian Camorra - so that Santino himself can claim her seat at the ‘High Table’, a council powerful crime lords! Traveling to Rome, everyone seems to know Wick and make no mistake, he certainly knows how to prepare himself: the weapons he acquires in the hotel’s sommelier room are beyond intimidating, he even wears a specially made suit padded with bullet-proof lining. Yeah!
After having successfully infiltrated Gianna’s swell party and managed to enter her private boudoir, she knows her time is up and decides to commit suicide in her luxury bath rather than being killed by Wick, though it doesn’t stop him from firing a bullet in her head even after she slashes her wrists. During his attempt to retreat from the party he is recognised by Cassian (Common, from ace TV-series Hell on Wheels), Gianna’s chief bodyguard who immeditaley senses that something is very wrong… The ensuing chase and fight in the underground vaults is a spectacle to behold and once again defying the law of human nature, Wick comes up trumps despite being badly bruised. Alas, so does Cassian who swears revenge for Gianna and the two men meet again in New York to complete ‘unfinished’ business, though in a grand gesture Wick spares Cassian’s life.
Meanwhile, the double-crossing Santino opens a $7 Million bounty for the head of his sister’s assassin and Wick finds himself besieged left, right and centre by Santino’s men… and one particularly nasty woman called Ares (Ruby Rose) who seems deaf-mute. Here then is kicking proof that the female of the species can indeed be more dangerous than the male…
Wick seeks help from underground crime lord The Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) who, for the time being, steers him into the right direction – leading up to the high-octane and almost surreal finale which leaves John Wick being declared ‘excommonicado’. Not that this is something that particularly worries him… The man, the myth, the legend - yeah!
One can only guess how gruelling the physical prep work must have been for Keanu Reeves and it’s just as well he doesn’t utter a lot of dialogue, as he wouldn’t have any breath left to do so! The one-to-one fight scene between him and rapper Common aka Cassian in the New York subway is a cleverly constructed cat-and-mouse game but still relatively mild compared to all the other action sequences in which Wick (we begin to ask ourselves whether he’s actually human) kicks mighty ass! The cliff-hanger promises a dynamic return in Chapter 3 and fans of the franchise will no doubt be in for another relentless thrill ride.
The Blu-ray/DVD release is a crisp marvel to look at and comes with an array of Special Features.