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JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2
Blu-ray Edition

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Keanu Reeves, Common, Laurence Fishburne, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ruby Rose, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane
Director: Chad Stahelski
Audio: Dolby Atmos 7.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio: Lionsgate
Features: See Review
Length: 122 Minutes
Release Date: June 13, 2017

Do you want a war...or do you want to just give me a gun?”

Film ***1/2

John Wick was one of the biggest and most pleasant surprises of 2014. It was without question the most badass action movie to surface in quite some time, at it reaffirmed Keanu Reeves’ status as a bona fide ass kicker. It was a sleeper hit, becoming even more popular on Blu-ray and DVD, thus resulting in a most riveting follow up, John Wick: Chapter 2.

Picking up where the first movie left off, professional hit man John Wick (Reeves) is out to retrieve the car that a gang of Russian mobsters foolishly decided to steal from him. Once that’s achieved, Wick plans on going into retirement for good and putting his deadly past behind him for good. But for someone like our titular hero, retirement never comes easy.

Wick gets a visit from an acquaintance from his past in the form of Santino (Riccardo Scamarcio). He helped Wick go into retirement the first time around. And although he got pulled out it because the same gang of Russians also decided to kill his dog, Wick does feel obligated to return the favor to Santino, especially since he blows up Wick’s house after he initially refused.

What Santino wants is John to take out his sister, who is next in line to take over the family business. Santino wants that position badly, clearly, as it will give him control of all the assassins in New York’s underworld. And John is the best one in the business, so why not take advantage?

He then travels to Italy to do the job, having been suited up with all new gear and taking up residence at The Continental, a hotel exclusive to any and all operating assassins. The job soon gets done, though not as expected. Afterward, it is revealed that John has been set up.

What separated the first movie from the rest of the action movie crop was the jaw dropping action scenes and stunt work, none of it done with the aid of noticeable visual effects but in a raw, authentic manner. John Wick: Chapter 2 ups the ante in that department, and fires on all cylinders in the process. If you were wowed by the kills pulled off in the first movie, you will be even more so this time around to the point that you’ll probably never look at a pencil the same way again.

Keanu Reeves is in his early 50s now, and can clearly be seen doing all his own stunts here. His handling of all the weaponry and physicality in the many fights scenes adds a great deal of intensity to the proceedings, and it’s a miracle that he’s still standing in one piece. That level of dedication is why is fully respect actors like Reeves and Tom Cruise, another guy in his early 50s doing his own stunts.

The movie also gets some great supporting work from Ian McShane as Winston, the man who oversees the assassin business, as well as Laurence Fishburne as a rival crime boss who Wick goes to for help, making for a nice little Matrix reunion. And there’s a neat little turn from rising actress Ruby Rose, from Orange is the New Black, as a deaf but very deadly assassin looking to take Wick down. She gets a lot across without uttering a single word.

John Wick: Chapter 2 is that rare example of a perfectly good sequel. One that takes all the strengths of the first movie and amplifies it to full effect. If there’s one thing we should all take away from both movies, it’s this: Keanu Reeves is clearly not one to mess with, for lack of a better phrase!

Video ****

Lionsgate delivers a pulse pounding presentation of a truly pulse pounding movie with this Blu-ray release! It’s a supremely stylish flick, laced with bright neon colors and outlandish set pieces that show off phenomenally well. Image detail is consistently clear and crisp from one scene to the next. A good bit of the movie is at night, and yet it remains a dynamically charged presentation!

Audio ****

Get ready to duck for cover, as the Dolby Atmos mix locks, loads and fires up one of the best action movie presentations to ever surface on the Blu-ray format. The movie is graced with an amazing sound design, allowing the action bits to play off in a wonderfully stunning fashion. The gun shots alone allow such a high rating, and there are plenty of them to spare. Unquestionably a leading candidate for best sounding Blu-ray release of the year!

Features ****

Lionsgate do themselves terrifically by offering a locked and loaded Blu-ray release. There’s a nice commentary with Keanu Reeves and director Chad Stahelski that offers a great deal of insight to the making of the movie. We are supplied a good number of featurettes, starting with “RetroWick: Exploring the Unexpected Success of John Wick", which chronicles the popularity that the first film drew. There’s also “Training John Wick", which looks at the training that went down to prepare the actors for all the insane fighting. “Wick-Vizzed" shows various rehearsal bits, then there’s “Friends, Confidantes: The Keanu/Chad Parternership", which focuses on the working relationship between Reeves and Chad Stahelski (who was also Reeves’ stunt double in The Matrix). We also get “As Above, So Below: The Underworld of John Wick" takes a look at the assassin characters that populate the world of this movie. In addition, there’s “Car Fu Ride-Along", which looks at how a Mustang was used, or rather trashed in the movie, while “Chamber Check: Evolution of a Fight Scene" takes a more in depth look at hand-to-hand combat. Rounding out the package are “Wick's Tool Box", which looks at all the weapons used, a Kill Count for the movie, a faux trailer for “Dog Wick", Deleted Scenes and a Theatrical Trailer.

Summary:

John Wick: Chapter 2 is one of the very best sequels of recent memory. It’s right on par with it’s predecessor in every, way, shape and form. The action is even more insane, and this Blu-ray release from Lionsgate is absolute reference quality and one of the best all around releases of the year!

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