John Wick: Chapter 2 1.0 stars

John Wick: Chapter 2 movie poster

What a great opening! An olde-timey movie, projected onto an urban facade, showing an automotive crash. Pan down to a motorcycle, sliding on its side along the rain-slicked street — the crash has actually happened; the movie is reality. The bike’s owner scrambles into view, picks it up, takes off, and VROOM here comes his pursuer, skidding across the purple neon asphalt in a roaring muscle car. No further introduction is required: here comes John Wick (Keanu Reeves), avenging angel, out to tie up the last loose end from the lean, mean, ‘80s-themed first installment: the recovery of his stolen ’69 Mustang. But here’s the problem with avenging angels: after a while, their invincibility gets both boring and silly, and the viewer starts pining for something recognizably human. (You wouldn’t want to make a drinking game out of every time Wick gets hit by a car/stabbed/shot/beaten up, only to shake it off and get back to work.) And this particular angel isn’t even especially righteous — his big decision about whether or not to honor a marker has less to do with integrity than pragmatism. The first chapter's ‘80s efficiency and sincerity give way to ‘90s excess and jokey cool; body armor gets replaced by a bulletproof sportcoat; loving attention to the realities of reloading surrenders to outright fetishization of the gun. Alas: for John Wick: Chapter 2, reality is just a movie. Directed by Chad Stahelski. 2017.

Matthew Lickona

This movie is not currently in theaters.

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