Archive for the ‘Chad Stahelski’ Category

Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight

John Wick 4

Director: Chad Stahelski

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Lance Reddick, Donnie Yen, Ian McShane, Bill Skarsgard, Clancy Brown, Hiroyuki Sanada, Rina Sawayama, Shamier Anderson

Running Time: 2 hours 49 minutes

Film Rating: 8 out of 10

After the success of John Wick 2 and 3, director Chad Stahelski accelerates the style and the action in John Wick 4 elevating the high powered action film to another level including shooting the film in stunning locations including Osaka, Japan; Morocco, Paris and Berlin.

With a bigger budget than John Wick 3, Keanu Reeves reprises his most famous role as the lethal assassin who has to battle an ambitious young Marquis in France, wonderfully played by Swedish actor Bill Skarsgard (Atomic Blonde, Deadpool 2) who decides to destroy the Continental in New York, the safe haven luxury hotel for assassins in a murky Manhattan and upsetting the carefully orchestrated order of assassins, an ornate mythology which director Stahelski explores as the action moves swiftly to Osaka, whereby the Marquis attempts the same disruption in Japan.

In Osaka, John Wick meets the head of the Japanese Continental, Shimazu played by famed Japanese actor Hiroyuki Sanada (Mortal Kombat, Bullet Train, Mr Holmes) and his daughter Akira played by Rina Sawayama. Naturally the Osaka Continental doesn’t fall without a vicious fight as the Marquis’s French army battle it out with Japanese assassins armed with Samurai swords and lethal skill. Basically everyone brings a knife to a gun fight.

If that wasn’t thrilling enough, the fast paced action of John Wick 4, quickly moves from Japan whereby Wick encounters Caine, a blind assassin brilliantly played by Chinese star Donnie Yen (Mulan, Rogue One, Shanghai Knights) who is being paid to kill Wick, to the nightclubs of Berlin and to some iconic locations in Paris including the Louvre and Le Sacre Couer.

What is really impressive in John Wick 4, is the stylistic elevation of the entire narrative particularly creating scenes that are beautiful and entrenched in imagery. The scene between Bill Skarsgard and Ian McShane comes to mind in the Louvre. It’s a simple dialogue scene but director Chad Stahelski elevates the scene to something extraordinarily beautiful and sinister. The same can be said for the astounding car chase scene which is phenomenal, shot at the extremely busy infamous roundabout in central Paris at the base of the Arc de’Triomphe.

After John Wick reunites with his Belarussian underworld family, and on the advice of Winston played by Ian McShane and with assistance of the Bowery King, played once again by Laurence Fishburne, Wick challenges the Marquis to a pistol duel at dawn on the steps of the Le Sacre Couer in Paris. What precedes this dual is brilliant fight sequences, an unbelievable car chase and enough guns and knives to make this action film really worth seeing for those that like their films bloody and violent. And there is a vicious dog.

John Wick 4 excels on every level, technically as an action film and stylistically as an incredibly exotic and fast paced chronology of an underworld which is brutally shifting taking few survivors.

John Wick 4 gets a film rating of 8 out of 10 and is highly recommended viewing for those that enjoyed the first 3 films. This one is truly exceptional and has to be seen on the big screen.

Symphony of Death

John Wick 3 – Parabellum

Director: Chad Stahelski

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Ian McShane, Laurence Fishburne, Asia Kate Dillon, Lance Reddick, Anjelica Huston, Said Taghmaoui, Jerome Flynn, Robin Lord Taylor, Jason Mantzoukas

Director Chad Stahelski assembles an all-star cast for the action packed third installment of the John Wick franchise including Oscar winner Halle Berry (Monster’s Ball) as fellow assassin Sofia along with the fabulous Oscar winner Anjelica Huston (Prizzi’s Honour) as the Director. Naturally the superfit Keaun Reeves (Dangerous Liaisons, My Own Private Idaho, The Matrix) reprises his role as the uber cool assassin John Wick who is on the run after committing a sacrificial act by killing a member of the Assassin’s Guild on the grounds of the lavish Continental Hotel in New York City.

In John Wick 3, Parabellum a bounty is placed on Wick’s head and even the shady Russian mafia cannot assist him as the adjudicator comes for his head, featuring a supremely wicked performance by the androgynous actress Asia Kate Dillon who is so brilliant as the mathematical investment banker in the series Billions.

As the rain-soaked atmospheric and hyper-realistic action moves from New York City to Casablanca and then back again, John Wick and his ally Sofia manage to annihilate every assassin which comes for them. There are Ninjas on motorbikes, there is John Wick riding a horse down a Manhattan street. There are vicious dogs which attack a fellow Moroccan based assassin Berrada played by Game of Thrones star Jerome Flynn.

The coolest cast members by far are Ian McShane as the sophisticated unflappable manager of the Continental Winston and Laurence Fishburne who reprises his role as the Bowery King.

Audiences can expect triple the amount of action, unbelievable production design, outlandish stunts and non-stop hyper-realistic entertainment which just continually builds on what the previous two films started. Expect an unbelievably high body count.

John Wick 3 – Parabellum is not for everyone but will certainly satisfy the bloody palate of  insatiable action fans. Keanu Reeves delivers as the muscular non-stop assassin who doesn’t even shed his trademark black suit and tie in the middle of the Sahara as he continually battles the bizarre code of the High Council and the strange Assassin’s Guild where everyone is out for each other’s blood.

The sets are amazing, the action frenetic and audiences will either love or hate the hyper-realism but stylistically director Chad Stahelski out does himself to ensure that the third instalment of John Wick is a symphony of death and destruction which satisfies a broad range of international fans. Audiences should look out for a great cameo by French Moroccan star Said Taghmaoui (Wonder Woman, The Infiltrator) as The Elder.

John Wick 3 – Parabellum gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10 and is strictly for hard core action fans otherwise anyone else watching might find the film laughable. 

The Man, the Myth, the Mayhem

John Wick Chapter Two

Director: Chad Stahelski

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ian McShane, Ruby Rose, Common, Claudia Gerini, Laurence Fishburne, John Leguizamo, Lance Reddick

The image of the lone survivor battling against a gritty and unrepentant underworld pervades director Chad Stahelski’s operatic sequel to John Wick, simply titled John Wick Chapter Two set in New York and Rome.

Starring action front man Keanu Reeves as John Wick, the second film obviously has a bigger budget and definitely has revitalized Reeves’s career after his millennial peak in The Matrix Trilogy.

Keanu Reeves has a fascinating filmography first spotted as Glenn Close’s young lover in Stephen Frears’s sumptuous film Dangerous Liaisons and then as a King Henry VI type character in Gus van Sant’s landmark film My Own Private Idaho. Reeves then gained studio attention with the success of the action film Speed opposite Sandra Bullock. Keanu Reeves strengthened his position as bankable star in the Wachowski’s global post-apocalyptic phenomenon The Matrix Trilogy.

John Wick Chapter Two follows John Wick’s attempts to retire after he extricates his 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429 from a creepy Russian mob boss, a brief appearance by Peter Stormare. The film’s opening sequence features a violent car chase sequence in New York which forcefully grabs audience’s attention immediately and never let’s go.

The plot point of the film comes when John Wick is visited by an Italian mob boss Santino D’Antonio played with psychopathic relish by Italian actor Riccardo Scamarcio (Burnt) who requests Wick, a professional assassin to kill his rival, Santino’s sister Gianna played by Claudia Gerini who has inadvertently inherited the title of becoming the head of an influential Italian crime family much to her brother’s horror. Gianna is protected by another loyal hitman Cassian lethally played by Common as she hosts a decadent party in Rome celebrating her new title.

As John Wick arrives in Rome, the film takes on a hyper-realized style and the consequent shootout in the catacombs below the Italian capital are brilliant in their execution and expedient its violent body count. The action in the Roman sequence is frenzied leaving audiences bloodthirsty like spectators at the Coliseum breathlessly wanting more spectacle.

The third act of the film swiftly moves back to New York where John Wick has to not only battle Santino but also seeks counsel from Winston, an enigmatic performance by Ian McShane, who is head of a covert league of assassins who are all governed by an intricate set of rules which is meant to keep killing down to a sort of stylized etiquette. No one is to be killed inside the Continental, an elegant establishment where assassins can check in and rest in between their lethal assignments. Perhaps even grab a cocktail together at the hotel bar.

With a welcome appearance by Matrix co-star Laurence Fishburne as the Bowery King who has a network of homeless people protecting him and assisting John Wick, the third act gets propelled into a vicious cycle of retribution.

John Wick Chapter Two delivers on all fronts, from complex fight sequences, to exotic and memorable locations including the elaborate final shootout at the Lincoln Centre amidst an exhibition entitled Reflections of the Soul, which director Stahelski is surely paying homage to the Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun.

Certainly the mayhem is overkill, yet the man and myth of John Wick Chapter Two lives up to expectations definitely pointing to another bloodthirsty sequel. This film gets a rating of 7.5 out of 10.

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