John Wick: Chapter 2

Ready for action? This R-rated sequel is just like the first one, so you're gonna see a LOT of action, along with lots of gunfire, vehicular mayhem and blowie uppie stuff. If you pay attention, you'll see humor, too; watch our hero as he gets a new wardrobe (my favorite) and some new weapons, as he prepares to fight in what appears to be the catacombs under Rome. The body count in this one is staggering, even as the fans cheered. We also visit either a high-end art museum or one of the characters owns a house with GREAT art. (Some of the dialogue escaped me; press screenings don't provide closed captions.)

Based on his own story, screenwriter Derek Solstad continues the John Wick saga. Director Chad Stahelski ("John Wick") is back, as well. They know their character and they know their (mostly male) action-loving audience, so the capacity screening crowd knows exactly what to expect from this crew.

The cast:
  • Keanu Reeves ("John Wick") John Wick is still grieving for his beloved wife...but at least he kept that new dog. Now all he has to do is retrieve his car and then give up "the life." Unfortunately he has to go back into the criminal underworld to make good on his marker. He has to kill...who?
  • Common ("The Wiz Live!") Cassian has a job to do, and John Wick will not be allowed to interfere. He has a pivotal scene which clearly points to another sequel.
  • Riccardo Scamarcio ("Burnt") Santino D'Antonio is right where he wants to be if only his sister would get out of his way.
  • Ian McShane ("American Gods") Winston is back; he still runs the Intercontinental and he still does not allow his patrons to use force on his premises. This time we notice that his hotel is part of an international chain.
  • Laurence Fishburne ("Madiba") Bowery King laughs at our hero when he calls on him for help. Instead he teases John about the paltry $7M bounty on his head. Their history together adds to the foreshadowing of that next sequel.
  • Lance Roddick ("John Wick") Our impeccably correct Charon never changes, even when he has to watch that ugly dog for awhile.
As you can see, this R-rated actioner has something for everyone: exotic locations, vehicular mayhem, ironic humor (with very little profanity), new and unique ways to kill or maim (watch those pencils!), and unbelievable gunfire, plus lots (and Lots and LOTS!) of fisticuffs! ...sigh...
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Take a look:
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The Space Between Us

What's your favorite thing about Earth? We hear this question several times and some of the answers might surprise you.

Writer/Director/Editor Stewart Schill ("Frank vs. God") wrote a story about a boy born and raised on Mars (see how THAT works!) who eventually travels to Earth. He is interested in his heritage and despite the risks, wants to find the father whose name was never revealed by his long-deceased mother, although he has found a photograph. He quickly learns that things are far more complicated than he expected.

Allan Loeb ("The Switch") has created a screenplay based on this story and Director Peter Chelsea ("Hector and the Search for Happiness") has taken it from there. All three men in this creative team seem to focus on intrinsic values rather than financial or political gain; I respect that about them.

Part of the cast:
  • Asa Butterfield ("Ender's Game") Gardner Elliot never expected his heart to be broken. It isn't the only element of his Mars-born body that causes him trouble. He has known all of his young life that he is a secret NASA has kept hidden away and growing up in reduced gravity has had an effect on his body.
  • Britt Robertson ("Tomorrowland") Tulsa is the girl who wants to fix Gardner's heart trouble. She also has the joy of introducing him to the oddball things he sees on this planet. Just look at a caterpillar! She has learned the hard way that people lie to her. By the way, this actress can blurt a monologue with the best! After she hears his outrageous claims, she knows she is on a road trip with a wacko.
  • Carla Gugino ("Wayward Pines") Kendra is the woman entrusted with Gardner's care from the time he was born. She is the closest thing to a mother that he has.
  • BD Wong ("Law and Order") Genesis Director Chen was in command of the NASA expedition that produced Gardner. The question was: Should we bring that pregnant astronaut home and jeopardize the mission or should we keep the baby's birth a secret?
  • Gary Oldman ("Man Down") Nathaniel Shepherd would never jeopardize NASA's reputation. He does insist that this is NOT an experiment. He says, "This is a human, not a mouse!"
  • Colin Egglesfield ("Rizzoli and Isles") His is the face beside Gardner's mother in that tantalizing photo. And he kept that house as he promised.
I soooo wanted this to be a rave and I'll admit there are many elements to praise: The two appealing young actors who play the leads, the scenery (Colorado mountains, Monument Valley, Sedona, the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas), the fun of a road trip movie, and watching our Stranger in a Strange Land learn about Earth.

Unfortunately this PG-13 movie makes only a passing wave to science, with enormous plot holes we willfully ignore, many coincidences that tax our suspended disbelief, plus they ride a motorcycle without helmets (that one really bothered me!) and the blowie uppie stuff is so contrived it made us sigh... However, if you're in the mood for a sweet teen romance, this one is just the ticket.
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Take a look at the production values!
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