John Wick 2: Bigger Dog. Better Villain.

Welcome to the second half of the year, peeps! And as is our usual custom, we have to evaluate, re-evaluate and all the evaluates, to see how far we’ve gone in actualizing our goals in 2017. Just do a quick plus and minuses, to see what’s been achieved and what hasn’t, and get right back into the game. Be sure to let me know how you’re getting along. You never know. We just might have some ideas to bounce off each other.

Our lead act got back into the game with the second installment of the John Wick series titled John Wick: Chapter 2. The 2017 American neo-noir action thriller film was directed by Chad Stahelski and written by Derek Kolstad. It stars Keanu ReevesCommonLaurence FishburneRiccardo ScamarcioRuby RoseJohn Leguizamo and Ian McShane. This is the first collabo between Reeves and Fishburne after Reeves got mentored by the latter in The Matrix trilogy. Remember the lady in the red dress. Now that was a classic film! The original Matrix of course.

So, the story of the retired assassin that goes berserk after the last gift from his late wife; a puppy, is killed by a mobster’s son, continues in Chapter 2. Wick or Baba Yaga (The Boogeyman) as called by former associates is visited by an Italian crime lord, who asks that Wick redeems his blood oath to him and of course betrays him when he does. Did I mention how much John Wick reminds me of Equilibrium with Christian Bale, just without the blood and gore? Thinking it might have inspired it. Hmm…

Watching the opening sequences of the film, I had to admit that I just didn’t get it. I mean this man is loyal, committed, determined brutal killing machine, that doesn’t die when mowed down by cars, yet opponents still have the bad judgment to engage him hand to hand combat. Guess they’re hoping that their fists will fell him where speeding cars didn’t. Lol! Anyways, they got to give us something to watch for 90 minutes, right?

John Wick: Chapter 2 premiered at Arclight Hollywood in Los Angeles on January 30, 2017, and was theatrically released in the United States on February 10, 2017, by Summit Entertainment. In the United Kingdom, the film was granted a 15 certificate by the British Board of Film Classification, after 23 seconds of a bloody injury within a suicide scene were removed to avoid an 18 rating. The film opened in UK cinemas on February 17, 2017, and was distributed by Warner Bros., with co-production from Lionsgate studio Summit Entertainment. Australia was one of the last major countries to receive the film, with a release on May 18.

John Wick: Chapter 2 grossed $92 million in the United States and Canada and $73 million in other territories for a worldwide gross of $165 million against a $40 million budget. The film grossed $90.5 million in its first nine days of release, surpassing the entire theatrical gross of the first film ($88.8 million).

In the United States and Canada, the film opened alongside two other sequels, The Lego Batman Movie and Fifty Shades Darker, and was projected to gross around $20 million in its opening weekend. It went on to open to $30.4 million, more than double the opening weekend of the original film and finishing third at the box office behind The Lego Batman Movie ($53 million) and Fifty Shades Darker ($46.6 million).  In its second weekend the film grossed $16.2 million, finishing 4th at the box office and making more in its second weekend than the original film made in its first.

John Wick 2 received positive reviews from critics. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 89% based on 196 reviews, and an average rating of 7.3/10. The site’s critical consensus reads, “John Wick: Chapter 2 does what a sequel should—which in this case means doubling down on the non-stop, thrillingly choreographed action that made its predecessor so much fun.” On Metacritic, polls indicate “generally favorable reviews”.  Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of “A–” on an A+ to F scale.

Mike Rougeau of IGN praising the film as a vast improvement of its predecessor, in terms of action set pieces, fight choreography, cinematography, and writing. Writing for Time magazine in February Stephanie Zacharek stated: John Wick: Chapter 2 asks the classic pulp question—Are human beings worth saving?—and delivers, with the right proportions of joy and sorrow, the classic pulp answer: Sometimes, no.” Ignatiy Vishnevetsky of The A.V. Club complained that it “lacks the first film’s domino-effect momentum”, but praised the action scenes as “entertainingly surreal”.

Scott Tobias of Uproxx is of the opinion that the film improved upon the original, writing: “For better or worse—though mostly for better—it’s a full-scale assault on the senses, constantly pushing itself to greater feats of excess. At this rate, a third John Wick might trigger the apocalypse.”

I have to concur with him; if it gets any bloodier, it could become a full-scale horror movie. The gun battles have only gotten more violent with blow up brains and limbs scattered everywhere. But I won’t complain (a lot) because at least the gory action flick does boast of a plot unlike most of this kind; John Wick 2 got a bigger dog and a better villain.

Rarely do sequels live up to its original but Chapter 2 does so as “bloody, enjoyable fun” and one of the best gun action films of recent. I particularly enjoyed the “gun and knife” battle between Wick and Cassian (Common). I hear they give themselves a couple of bruises in getting the scene right (the dedication of Hollywood acts). I have to hand it to them; the fight choreography was brilliantly done. So if you love gory gun battles with excellent fight sequences, then “John Wick: Chapter 2” is a must watch. Not sure it’s the case for the female demographic.

In October 2016, Stahelski stated that a third film is in the works. In June 2017, it was reported that Kolstad will return to pen the screenplay for the third film. More gore to look forward to.

That’s it for the weekend folks. As usual let me know your take on it. Until next weekend; XoXo!

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