John Wick Chapter 2: Manic mayhem

Film: John Wick Chapter 2

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Ian McShane, Riccardo Scamarcio, Laurence Fishburne, Ruby Rose, Claudia Gerini, Common, Franco Nero

Director: Chad Stahelski

Chapter 2 of the life and times of the titular assassin is as nihilistic and manic as 2014’s opening chapter and promises more of the same in a third instalment about “the man, the myth, the legend” as the NYC gang lord played by Laurence Fishburne so aptly puts it in a cinematic reboot of Charles Dickens’s Fagin and gang.

To enliven the grim noir, scriptwriter Derek Kolstad resorts to weak humour which may be lost in the mayhem.”Are you here for the Pope?” Winston (Ian McShane), the savvy owner of the Continental Hotel, wants to know when Jonathan (John) Wick checks in after viewers are treated to lavish footage of the Eternal City and the Vatican. Grieving over his late wife with a new dog for solace, Wick has been hectored into another job, overriding his protestations of retirement by Italian mafioso & art connoisseur Santino (Riccardo Scarmacio) D’Antonio. See how the proceeds from a life of crime are invested in gold, real estate and art, among other luxuries.

D’Antonio’s wants Wick to eliminate his sister, Gianna (Claudia Gerini) who their father had nominated as heir of the criminal enterprise. D’Antonio tells Wick he can exit after this one last job. There’s talk of markers, oaths, blood ties and rules. As Winston puts it, “rules are important. Without them, we are like the animals.” Winston, interestingly, takes no sides in this deadly game. He only does what he does – facilitate things. When D’Antonio double crosses Wick, mayhem erupts.

Now Wick himself is the target of D’Antonio’s gang led by a woman (Ruby Rose).Wick must also contend with the late Gianna’s devoted bodyguard Cassian (Common) and a score of hitmen hoping to win the USD seven million  bounty offered by D’Antonio.

Expectedly, the shenanigans include slickly choreographed stunts and tense chases and battles in subways, streets, lobbies and art exhibits. The film revels in Wick’s creative, resourceful modes of extermination. It could even be said to be a text book case of How To Kill With A Pencil. And through it all, director Stahelski has the viewer rooting for John Wick. All the way, Ah me. When capitalism is bereft of morality, even badasses can strike a simpatico chord.

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