• by Wes Singleton

John Wick: Chapter 2, B

Rated R, 122 minutes

The action thriller new sequel "John Wick: Chapter 2" is as dark, stylish and entertaining as its predecessor, even if it pulls few surprises. With "Matrix" star Keanu Reeves back as the enigmatic, zen hit man, like the first film, this installment presents an interesting dichotomy: Reeves' minimalist acting paired with some over-the-top fight sequences, which go remarkably well together. Aside from all the redundant violence, there will be

few complaints from those leaving the theater.

John Wick (Reeves) comes out of retirement when a former associate plots to seize control of an international assassins' guild led by Santino D’Antonio (Italian actor Riccardo Scamarcio). Bound by a blood oath to help him, Wick travels to Rome to square off against the world's deadliest killers.

Directed by Chad Stahelski and written by Derek Kolstad, who directed and wrote the first "John Wick," respectively, "John Wick: Chapter 2" is competently enjoyable and more of the same, which is an exquisite amount of violence, mixed with some stylish visuals and Reeves' zen-like quality to carry the film on his shoulders, from the opening moments - in which he brings down at least a dozen men or so - to the closing moments, in which he brings down at least a dozen men or so.

You shouldn't be all that surprised where this is headed, and likely won't care about the overlong plot or repeated, copious amounts of violence and elaborate stunts that pepper the film, because those sequences add some flavor to the film, for without them the film would be much duller, given Reeves' bland, easy going appeal. He's well-supported by a few from the first film, including Ian McShane ("Deadwood") as the owner of the non-violent Continental hotel, John Leguizamo as his friend and body-shop owner; rapper Common appears as a head of security he does battle with, and watch for a cameo mid-film from Reeves' "Matrix" buddy Laurence Fishburne as a crime lord who extends some grace to Wick at a key moment.

Like many movie heavyweights before him, the bad guys won't get away from John Wick for long, and on that note "John Wick: Chapter 2" has few, if any surprises, other than the fact for an action film like this, coming in right at 2 hours is still a bit long. But Reeves' Wick pulls mostly good punches, and as long as the bad guys continue to fall when he's around, expect a "John Wick: Chapter 3."

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