John Wick: Chapter 2 - Can violence be beautiful? 4 stars

"Retirement is the ugliest word in the language."
-Ernest Hemingway

Walking into the cinema...
Did John Wick need a sequel? If you have to ask, you will not understand or you haven't seen the original. 

Russelling Reviews: 4 stars

     Lessons that should have learnt from John Wick: Don't kill a man's dog and never touch the 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1 sitting in the garage, especially if they belong to the man nicknamed, The Boogeyman. In the original 2014 film, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) was a former assassin who had done all he could to retire from the “business” and is currently in mourning after the loss of his wife, Helen. Then through a series of fateful events, he finds himself with a dead dog, a stolen car and deep feeling of vengeance that is strong enough to lead him out of retirement and willing to take on the Russian Mafia in the process. 
      John Wick: Chapter 2 occurs four days after the conclusion of the first chapter and shows the resolution of the first chapter. After his hard fought battle with Abram Tarasov’s (Peter Stormare) men, Wick limps home after applying his own version of justice and has hope that he can return to his life of solitude. The problem with this plan could be found in his coming out of his self-induced retirement. To enter back into this dark world of crime forces the hand of Italian crime lord Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) who helped him to get out in the first place. Wick is now obligated to perform an unimaginable act that should allow him to be free of his debts to the crime kingpin. Initially he refuses to perform the service, but is eventually coerced to fulfil the job. With his second re-entry into the criminal underworld, each step pulls him deeper into the assassin's lifestyle and leads to an ultimate showdown with the rest of the web of paid killers. 
    Not unlike the first chapter of John Wick, the second instalment is a lesson in magnificently choreographed violence. The stunt choreographer turned director, Chad Stahelski, has been given the gift of the perfect material to deliver the perfect action flick. With minimal dialogue and plot to weigh down the process, this first time director has taken his action star to a new level of violent artistry. The precision, the effectiveness and overall veracity of each moment makes this ludicrous concept believable and entertaining. Derek Kolstad’s script is a lesson in practical minimalism that provides the necessary dialogue and humour to support the action without too many unnecessary monologues. Each character seems to be well thought out and makes sense within this lesson in sheer brutality and is epitomised by the use of a villain who only uses sign language. Like a well-crafted ballet, the combination of writing and direction prove that a great story can be conveyed as effectively with mere physicality opposed to excessive vernacular.
          Keanu Reeves has found the right vehicle to capitalise on his performance skills. The Matrix Trilogy opened the door to his career, but John Wick is the ideal vehicle to continue its upward trajectory. The fewer words and the more action afforded him moves his performance close to legendary and cult status. The inclusion of Laurence Fishburne in the cast can be labeled as an unadulterated pleasure and the first time these two have squared off since Matrix Revolutions. The mentoring chemistry between the two seasoned actors continues into a new realm and proves to be the highlight of the scripts dialogue. Ian McShane and John Leguizamo add the robust maturity and comical spins that add the necessary bridge into this and the next chapter of the John Wick trilogy.  
    The unfortunate aspect of reviewing a film of this caliber and content is that it is impossible to recommend to the majority of readers. Wrestling with the moral conundrum of being entertained by this level of violence is difficult to reconcile. Then to suggest that others experience this brutal beauty does cause some professional and spiritual turmoil. Which leads to the inevitable warning of this brutal masterpiece - John Wick: Chapter Two is a film for discerning adults only. It may be difficult, but avert your eyes, if you can.   

REEL DIALOGUE: What are some of the bigger questions to consider from this film? 

Where is the line between revenge and justice? 

Definition of revenge: to exact punishment or expiation for a wrong on behalf of, especially in a resentful or vindictive spirit

Definition of justice: the administering of deserved punishment or reward or the maintenance or administration of what is just by law, as by judicial or other proceedings

Can you see the difference? Which of these do you seek when someone does you wrong? 

Passages on revenge and justice: 
Leviticus 19:18, Romans 12:19, Isaiah 30:18, Psalm 37: 27-29

Trailer for the film

Written by Russell Matthews based on a five star rating system @ Russelling Reviews #russellingrevs #johnwick #keanureeves #thematrix #assassins