Starring: Keanu Reeves, Ruby Rose, Ian McShane, Laurence Fishburne, Peter Stormare, Franco Nero, Kitty Crystal (Rated MA – 122 min).
Turning 53 in September, the ultra cool, charismatic, unique Keanu Reeves makes his younger action man peers blush armed to the teeth taking on a team of international assassin counterparts in the second edition of John Wick. The 2014 surprise hit became synonymous with using a pencil as a deadly weapon – something that will come back to fruition here.
Picking up two weeks from the original after declaring retirement, Wick is forced back into his deadly profession summoned to Rome becoming a target of every criminal in town for an underworld reward for an incident that may or may not have happened – I will not reveal here. That said, the staging of fight scenes flows across the screen like a symphony of violence inter-cut with dynamic tactical reasoning on who dies next and why, it’s almost a sophisticated action flick.
Keanu reunites with Matrix trilogy alumni Morpheus, Laurence Fishburne, in a brief cameo. While former model and dance rave DJ, soon to be seen in Pitch Perfect 3, Australia’s own Ruby Rose continues her impressive swirl into movies as a purse-lipped mute hit-woman speaking in sign language and deadly fire.
Well chosen locations have as much impact as the fights themselves. Expanding this Wick mythology is oobviously on the agenda with the screenplay providing brief remarks or observations that may play out further in later chapters.
Those familiar with the original will also spot the regulars helping Wick in a variety of handshake ways since his wife was killed setting off the whole undisputed rampage against the Russian mob. In fact before opening credits, the Russkies are in for a surprise returning to get his stolen car back.
Groundbreaking Matrix aside, he has been mostly unfairly trounced by critics for his acting ability. But from Point Break (1991), Speed (1994), even underappreciated Chain Reaction (1996) showed off his natural motorcycle and fighting precision. He shines as a predecessor to John Wick. Sporting tailored bullet proof suits, trim beard, curated hair and a colossal range of weaponry on hand, enigmatic Keanu Reeves is still the man.
Terrific entertainment carnage, to steal a line from my favourite Point Break, 100% pure adrenaline. Big screen must see.
Shane A. Bassett