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John Wick Chapter 2 (Blu-ray Review)

16 Jun, 2017 By: John Latchem



Lionsgate
Action
Box Office $92.03 million
$29.95 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray, $42.99 UHD BD
Rated ‘R’ for strong violence throughout, some language and brief nudity.
Stars Keanu Reeves, Riccardo Scarmarcio, Ian McShane, Ruby Rose, Common, Claudia Gerini, Lance Reddick, Laurence Fishburne.

As covered in this Blu-ray’s extensive bonus materials, the first John Wick in 2014 seemingly came out of nowhere to become one of the year’s biggest sleeper hits and attain a cult status that begged for a sequel.

Keanu Reeves starred as the title character, a former hitman-for-hire who retired for love and now seeks a quiet life after the death of his wife. His tranquility is shattered by a Russian gangster’s son who has an eye for Wick’s classic Mustang and sends his goons to convince Wick to sell it. They steal the car and kill Wick’s puppy, which was the last gift left to him by his late wife, unwittingly awakening the sleeping dog within the former assassin, who unleashes a killing spree the Russians are ill-prepared for.

For the sequel, Reeves re-teams with director Chad Stahelski, who was Reeves’ stunt double in the original “Matrix,” and a stunt coordinator on its sequels and a variety of other action blockbusters.

John Wick Chapter 2 picks up where the first film left off, with Wick taking on another branch of the Russian organization in order to retrieve his car. Then the opening credits roll, and it’s on to new business.

It seems Wick’s activities from the first film were a violation of his agreement to stay retired, allowing an old friend to cash in a debt from his previous life. An Italian criminal named Santino (Riccardo Scarmarcio) wants Wick to kill his sister so he can assume her seat on a council of the world’s criminal elite. Wick’s resistance to taking on this job earns Santino’s ire, and Wick soon finds himself hunted by every assassin in New York looking to cash in on a bounty Santino puts on Wick’s head.

The result is a thrilling action spectacle that, as with the first movie, thrives on its exhilarating fight choreography.

One of the better aspects of these films is how it builds the secret underground world where the criminal element operates. This includes a return to the Continental, the hotel run by Ian McShane’s Winston that serves as a safe-haven to the denizens of the underworld and provides a network of resources for their benefit, as long as they adhere to a strict code of honor.

For added measure, Wick seeks the aid of an underground spymaster played by Laurence Fishburne (because who else would Neo turn to for help but from Morpheus?).

Stahelski and screenwriter Derek Kolstad don’t waste too much time with scenes that don’t serve the story or the action, trusting the audience to absorb the details that suggest the world without spelling it out.

To that end, though, the Blu-ray does include three deleted scenes that run about eight minutes in total. One features an extended part for John Leguizamo, who otherwise reprises his character from the first film in little more than a cameo.

Reeves’ infectious enthusiasm for the world of John Wick flows into the bonus materials, as his energy bubbles over in an audio commentary shared with Stahelski. They clearly had a lot of fun making the movie and have no trouble relaying what it took to make it and giving praise to those who helped them pull it off.

More details are revealed in several behind-the-scenes featurettes running more than an hour, with several focused on the extensive stunts and fight choreography seen in the film. In one clip in particular, a catalog of Wick’s weaponry, one of the filmmakers makes the bold claim that “If they wanted to kill James Bond they’d send John Wick” (if that’s not a billion-dollar movie pitch I don’t know what is).

Another featurette keeps track of Wick’s body count in the movie.

Finally, there’s a minute-and-a-half short film called “Dog Wick,” a clever parody of the first film that imagines what would happen if the scenario were flipped, with John Wick killed and the dog the unstoppable killing machine seeking revenge.


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