‘John Wick: Chapter Two’ Review: Keanu is Back!

The last time Keanu Reeves made a sequel to an action movie with a huge cult following and two directors, it didn’t really go well twice over. Nonetheless, John Wick wasn’t exactly The Matrix, and John Wick: Chapter Two fortunately isn’t The Matrix Reloaded or The Matrix Revolutions. Even so, this sequel does expose a few new cracks in the foundation of the latest Reeves franchise, whether or not it will really make any difference for its own inevitable threequel.

After tying up the last loose end of his last revenge mission, John Wick puts himself back into retirement. Yet he only has about five minutes in his old home with his new dog before a ghost from the past comes calling, as the Italian assassin who helped him get out of the life the first time demands that he honor his blood oath to him. When John’s refusal results in his house getting blown up, and when the rules of his old assassin’s guild prevent him from seeking retribution, he has no choice but to go to Rome and fulfill his obligation. But when even that isn’t enough to get him out scot free, John has to go through a whole legion of killers to try and get it done.

While the original John Wick waited about 25 minutes to turn Wick loose, sequels usually play by different rules, so Chapter Two pretty much has him on the rampage in mere moments. It quickly proves that director Chad Stahelski and the Wick franchise in general still has the brutal, bloody action chops, even without original co-director and new Deadpool 2 director David Leitch’s help. Still, John’s opening quest to get his car back is the first of many opportunities to question how he can really keep getting up after so many hits, let alone how his car can keep working after them.

Things do slow down afterwards, however, as they set up John’s latest reasons for revenge and for postponing retirement. Dog lovers should be reassured that John’s much bigger new canine is out of the crossfire, and is safely sent away before the action really starts. Although that is surely a good thing, it does make Chapter Two less compelling than the original in giving John and the movie a pretext for mass destruction.

Triggering John’s return to killing through dog murder last time may have been horrifying, but it did provide a real emotional hook, and helped prove how different the original was from its action peers. Yet this time around, merely burning down John’s house and keeping him from retiring again just makes Chapter Two look like any other revenge/coming out of retirement story.

Dogs shouldn’t keep dying to set these adventures up, but there should be other more original thoughts and motivations to get the ball rolling. It also works against Reeves, who doesn’t get to show as much of a drive behind his killing spree this time, or get anything like his “I’m thinking I’m back!” speech to speak when not shooting heads off. Even with that in mind, the commitment he still shows in his fighting and his rage remains a welcome difference from the ultra-robotic Reeves of past action movies.

The other big element that made John Wick more original, and more quirky than the average action film, was the assassin’s society/hotel that John went back into during his mission. It was a unique brand of universe building that didn’t seem forced in merely to set up more sequels, at least not much more than in the average blockbuster universe. Fortunately, Chapter Two keeps expanding that world with more quirky little touches, bits and details, especially as it and John goes international in Rome.

From having a special kind of suit fitting and ‘tasting’ in Rome, to having Franco Nero guest star as the head of Rome’s Continental Hotel, bringing back Ian McShane as the head of New York’s branch, showing the guild’s ‘accounts payable’ branch and pairing Reeves up with old Matrix mentor Laurence Fishburne to start the third act, Chapter Two is at its best when branching out the wider world John just can’t leave behind. But as the movie goes on, however, there is a bit of a downside to it all and perhaps to the newly expanded franchise in general.

John Wick was its own animal in going back to the old school ways of action movies, through a lack of hyperactive quick cuts, a lack of holding back in its action, and through telling a simple stand alone story. Chapter Two is a somewhat different matter, as it gives in to the usual sequel impulse in thinking bigger and longer automatically means better, and in turning into just another prequel for the next sequel to come by the end.

As welcome as Stahelski’s bang-bang, bloody and CGI free brand of action still is, at least compared to the MTV-style editing and non-stop explosions of other action franchises, Chapter Two obviously can’t be as fresh and new with such a style as the original was. In fact, when John goes underground in Rome’s catacombs for the film’s second big set piece, it is often too dark to really see anything and to savor how his enemies go down, which goes against the franchise’s biggest action hook.

Of course, given that John and most everyone else has indestructible suits now, head shots are an even greater cause of death than last time, if that is actually possible. Yet there really are only so many head shots to take before they nearly become as repetitive as explosions are in other action movies.

There are still some joys to be had that don’t threaten to wear out their welcome, such as Claudia Gerini as John’s initial mandated target, a few big hand-to-hand fight scenes between John and Common, and Ruby Rose as the sign language speaking right-hand assassin of John’s nemesis. But it takes until the middle of Chapter Two before its most deliriously action-packed and outrageous set piece occurs, as seemingly everyone in New York is activated to take John out to no avail.

Stahelski still tries to top it with a big finale in a museum and a house of mirrors, although it is technically far from a finale. In fact, the last 10 minutes are pretty much devoted to setting up Chapter Three, in a way that should leave everyone wanting more until they stop to think about it.

By turning into another sequel that spends more time setting up the next movie with unanswered questions and cliffhangers, it threatens to turn John Wick into just another franchise, which really isn’t how the original worked at all. Regardless, “Sequelitis” is on the doorstep of the Wick series, which may well be inevitable for all franchises but is a bit disappointing for one that started like this.

This is hardly the worst case of it that Reeves has been a part of, as Chapter Two is nowhere near the letdown of either Matrix sequel, although that really isn’t hard to accomplish. There’s still good reason for many Wick fans to be excited for more and for what is set up to come, yet there is also reason to wonder about how much more innovative they can really get from here, which wasn’t something to question after the original.

Saying that Chapter Two is really more of the same isn’t an entirely damning statement, as almost everything that fans loved about the first chapter is still around in some form. Yet by definition and by its own repeated style, it can’t be as much of a breath of fresh air as the original was, which is even clearer in the other glaring ways that it doesn’t entirely match up.

There is still a share of imagination to be had in the Wick mythology, even if it pops up more infrequently this time around. However, spurts of the old John Wick originality, invention, brutal action style and universe building may not be enough on their own to keep up a passing grade when Chapter Three turns its first bloody pages.

John Wick: Chapter Two will start earning its grade with general audiences on Feb. 10.

Celebrity Scandals: Gossip Center

Cocaine, Underage Girls, & Leonardo DiCaprio: Donald Trump’s Past Comes Back To Haunt Him As Old Party Pals Spill All!

More and more scandalous stories about Donald Trump are surfacing!

On Monday, Daily Beast writer Michael Gross revealed two of the GOP nominee’s former party pals are spilling secrets about the big bashes the businessman threw back in the day!

Video: Barack Obama DESTROYS Donald Trump In This Mean Tweets Segment!

And, from their stories, there were all SORTS of illegal activities!

According to the journalist, who also wrote about these scandalous shindigs earlier this year, the presidential hopeful would host drug-filled parties crawling with underage girls at the Plaza Hotel.

Michael recently reached out to two of Trump’s old partying buddies, and they dished deets about what went on during these illicit get-togethers.

One of the men, a fashion photographer whose name was excluded, explained the parties often introduced rich, older men to “young girls assuming they’d get somewhere,” admitting that sometimes these girls were as young as 15 years old and “over their heads, they had no idea, and they ended up in situations.”

He clarified:

“There were always dramas because the men threw money and drugs at them to keep them enticed. It’s based on power and dominating girls who can’t push back and can be discarded. There’s always someone to pick them back up. Nobody wants to call home and say ‘Help me.'”

The photographer continued to describe the atmosphere, saying:

“It was guys with younger girls, sex, a lot of sex, a lot of cocaine, top-shelf liquor.”

He also explained that the host himself would often end up sleeping with women who were in attendance, but didn’t specify their ages:

“Trump was in and out. He’d wander off with a couple girls. I saw him. He was getting laid like crazy. Trump was at the heart of it. He loved the attention and in private, he was a total f*cking beast.”

The other former party guest, male model Andy Lucchesi, was often responsible for allegedly wrangling models for the Apprentice alum.

However, he claims he also doesn’t know the ages of the women Trump had sex with, explaining:

“So, he’s a man with a woman. A lot of girls, 14, look 24. That’s as juicy as I can get. I never asked how old they were; I just partook. I did partake in activities that would be controversial, too.”

He also corroborated the photographer’s cocaine claim, but insisted Donald never indulged in the illegal substance:

“There was cocaine around. I never saw him do that. Donald Trump does not do cocaine. He’s in control of himself.”

In the new article, Mr. Gross also seemed to insinuate that the New York native’s modeling agency was also serving as a “date farm” for either himself or famous friends.

He even referenced a ’90s quote attributed to Leonardo DiCaprio, in which the actor jokingly thanked the controversial mogul for starting the agency, saying:

“Wow one-stop date shopping. What a concept!”

Of course, while Michael included this reference in his piece about the parties, Leo’s comment appears to only reference the agency, and not any hotel bashes. Nonetheless, Leo’s reported exchange with the GOP presidential nominee is circulating again.

What do U think of all these new, disturbing details, Perezcious readers?

[Image via JLN Photography/WENN.]

PerezHilton

“Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock curls are officially back in action” links

Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock curls are back. [Mashable]
Is Victoria Beckham super-Photoshopped in this editorial? [Dlisted]
Father John Misty tripped balls at a Taylor Swift show. [XOJane]
Brothers pranked their sister into believing the Zombie Apocalypse was real. [The Blemish]
Do the Property Brothers’ clients get to keep the decorations? [Starcasm]
Britney Spears’ new album will happen soon. [ICYDK]
Who’s going to die this season in Game of Thrones? [Buzzfeed]
Anne Hathaway loves her baby, just FYI. [LaineyGossip]
Is Tom Cruise moving to Scientology’s English castle? [The Hollywood Sigh]
NeNe Leakes shares a “woke up like this” video. [Seriously OMG WTF]

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Cele|bitchy

Jennifer Lopez & Pitbull Help Prince Royce Back It Up For Their New Music Video!

We can get behind this!

Beach Season is almost here, and it looks like Prince Royce wants to be responsible for the song of the Summer!

The 26-year-old singer enlisted Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull to help give his new music video Back It Up some star power, and we’re really into it.

[ Photos: J.Lo & The Other Best Dressed Stars At The Tony Awards! ]

It’s a nice song, and while the cliché video detracts from our enjoyment — how much product placement did they really need — it doesn’t take too much away from the music.

Ch-ch-check out Back it Up before it hits the radio (above)!!!

PerezHilton

Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez are Back

Because Selena Gomez might be legally retarded, she was spotted clutching on to Justin Bieber on Monday night at Bootsy Bellows where they celebrated a friend’s birthday. A source says they were together the entire day cruising along the beach in Malibu on a 3-wheeler.

Selena Gomez is basically an abused puppy. Bieber could pee in her mouth at this point and little cartoon hearts would still be popping over her head.


The Blemish

BET Star’s Hubby — I Hope I Get My Gun Back!

Filed under: Memphitz Wright, Toya Carter, Celebrity Justice

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The guy married to Toya Carter — star of BET’s “Toya: A Family Affair” — has finally been released from custody after bringing a gun to an airport on Sunday … and he hopes to be reunited with his firearm as soon as possible. 

TMZ spoke with Mickey “Memphitz” Wright … who went in front of a judge in Clayton County, GA this afternoon … after TSA agents at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport discovered the Desert Eagle pistol in his carry-on bag Monday.

Wright tells us the judge was “very understanding” of his explanation — that he had placed the gun in a backpack weeks ago and simply forgot about it — and released him on bail.

Wright says he was “completely shocked” when TSA agents discovered the gun in his bag — but tells us, “I had my license and [the judge] did me right and let me out.”

He adds, “The TSA did their job … I just hate that it was me because I’m about positivity and motivation.”

When asked if he will ask the court to return the gun, Wright tells us, “Yes, i want my gun back” … but insists the next time he travels, he’ll leave the piece at home.

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TMZ.com