Legendary super-assassin John Wick is back. Keanu Reeves is both a weapon and a target, throughout most of his performance in the film’s newly-released sequel: John Wick: Chapter 2.
Struggling to stay retired as a hitman, he’s forced back into the fray to repay a debt owed to an Italian mobster Santino D’Antonio, and to uphold the creed of secret assassin society: The Continental. Coaxed by hotel owner and kingpin Winston (Ian McShane’s character), Wick relents and sets out to kill his mark — D’Antonio’s sister — who has a coveted seat at the High Table.
At her coronation party, the bloodshed begins. In killing his target, Wick makes himself one. The remainder of the film sees him overcome countless assailants with gun after gun in hand. It’s a bit like how it feels to watch someone else play a videogame.
Even as an action star (in Speed and The Matrix trilogy), Reeves has never emulated an overly macho on-screen character. It may be that his innocent exterior endears viewers to his character as John Wick — the reluctant killer.
In what was a memorable moment in the film, Reeves’ old Matrix co-star Laurence Fishbone’s Bowery King character exclaims, ‘Somebody PLEASE get this man a gun!’. That was all he had to do to set the film, and the ensuing fury in motion.
Put simply, I’d describe this film as artful violence. My favourite scene would have to be the moody and foreboding gunplay amidst the psychedelic hall of mirrors art installation. It’s artistic, if not absurd. But it forces one to ‘reflect’ on what is basically a stylised shooting spree.
The excess of the killings, and almost operatic gore of the film translates like clever satire — in the same way that slapstick does. John Wick: Chapter 2 is a cheeky son-of-a-gun spin on the assassin genre, and will probably be as well-received as its predecessor.
Jill is a Sydney-based journalist who invents song lyrics, and speaks fluently in movie quotes. Follow her on: @jillamint
John Wick: Chapter is released to Australian audiences in cinemas on May 18. Find ticket information via the official website.