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'John Wick Chapter 2' sets fire to big screen
Whats in with Justin
john wick
Keanu Reeves stars at John Wick. - photo by Studio photo

The original "John Wick" from 2014 was a surprise hit, thanks largely to its visceral action and kinetic energy. It helped revitalize Keanu Reeves’ sagging career.

Now, like its predecessor, "John Wick: Chapter 2" is one of the best action movies of the decade, delivering with all barrels blazing.

Reeves returns as Wick, trying to live out a life of retirement from being Baba Yaga a.k.a. The Boogeyman, but this sequel makes him suffer from Godfather Syndrome: Just when he thought he was out, they pull him back in.

An old Italian assassin (Riccardo Scamarcio) is calling on John’s help to annihilate a deadly target: His sister, Gianna, whose on a council that controls all of the world’s deadliest killers. He wants to take her place.

John initially says no, but circumstances make him an offer he can’t refuse and soon he’s on his way to Rome to carry out the mission. Along the way, John has been set up and now there’s a huge bounty on his head.

We do get characters from the original back, such as Ian McShane’s Winston, the owner of the Continental, the hotel for assassins where no killing is permitted and John Leguizamo’s Aurelio, his personal mechanic. New and memorable characters abound, including rapper/actor Common as an assassin frenemy of John’s; Ruby Rose (from the latest xXx movie) as another killer who speaks only in sign language and, of course, the great Laurence Fishburne makes an appearance as an ally of John’s. Yes, Neo and Morpheus are back again! No red or blue pills sadly though.

Like the original, the movie is crammed with sensational set pieces, each one more impressive and brutal than the last. The opening sequences alone are worth the price of admission with John retrieving his 1969 Mustang. That sequences goes as follows: John retrieves car. Criminals try to thwart him. He takes them in a brutal fashion with either the car or his own skills. Repeat.

Director Chad Stahelski again stages these action sequences in a visceral fashion and he makes the violence so gorgeous it could be considered an art form. They are some of the most stylish and exhilarating sequences I’ve seen since "Mad Max: Fury Road."

"…Chapter 2" also provides just enough juicy elements to keep its story afloat while maintaining its frenetic pace. Its complex, intriguing world expands in a way that is pregnant with possibilities. If this is the best the sequel has to offer, I say bring on Chapter 3.

Whoa, indeed, again.

Grade: A-

Rated R for strong violence throughout, some language and brief nudity.

Hall is a syndicated columnist in South Georgia.

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