Film

Movie review: 'John Wick 2'

Film offers stylishly violent action but not much else

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In the second chapter of the “John Wick” trilogy of action films, the story picks up with the “hero” of our story smack in the middle of another super-nihilistic fight to the death, this time over his beloved Ford Mustang. Granted, it’s a fine machine, but, really, it’s just a car. But, when John Wick (Keanu Reeves) gets down to business, nobody lives who whips out a gun or a knife or a broken bottle while standing in his way.

Even when he gets his car back, it is so trashed you wonder how the cylinders are still firing. But, everything John Wick seems to touch has an aura of tough-guy magic to it, so you know it works simply because he wills it to.

Having seen the first chapter of this trilogy, it’s easy to see how this character developed a nearly instant cult following. He’s like a Man with No Name for the new millennium, a Dirty Harry with a broken heart who just wants to retire from the job that earned him legendary status in the criminal underworld: the best hit man who ever lived. He’s the guy they always talk about, the one who single-handedly killed three bad guys in a bar “with a pencil!” It’s always said with that exclamation point at the end.

John lives in the beautiful contemporary, modern home he once shared with his beloved wife, Helen (Bridget Moynahan), who, before the events in the trilogy began, died of a fatal illness. This left him crushed and caused him to decide to hang up his automatic weapons forever. Of course, for the powerful criminals who used his services, this doesn’t sit well. By taking out their opposition, he made them a lot of money and thus helped move the pieces in the international gangland chess board around.

When some jerk who was the son of a Russian boss broke into John’s house just because he wanted his car — yup, that Mustang — and in so doing also killed John’s puppy, John went kinda nuts and took out almost the entire Russian mob just to get revenge. That puppy, by the way, was a posthumous gift from his late wife, so it meant something. And, besides, in the tough-guy movie lexicon, you simply do not kill a man’s dog.

At the end of the first movie, John adopts a new dog. This time, it’s a very sweet pit bull.

In the new movie, John has made his point — and has his car carted off by his friend, a chop shop owner played by John Leguizamo, to “get it fixed.” He is done with his old life. But, some people simply won’t listen. One day, a man and his thugs stop by with a proposition. It seems Italian crime lord Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) has come to enlist John to assassinate his sister, Gianna (Claudia Gerini), so he can rise in the ranks of his family’s organization. When John flat out refuses, even though he has in the past taken a blood oath, Santino blows up John’s house.

This, of course, sets into motion another fight-to-the-death series of events that now pit John against an even bigger, more sophisticated and ruthless gang of killers. Even the honor among thieves doesn’t help him, which he finds out when he approaches his old friend, Winston (Ian McShane). There is no way of escaping the mountain of hurt about to come down on him now.

What’s next for the last chapter? Who knows? I just hope the dog survives.

This film is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4145 or visit storyteller7.com.

Also showing in Taos

The following were compiled from press materials.

Elle

MPAA rating: R for violence involving sexual assault, disturbing sexual content, some grisly images, brief graphic nudity and language

Movies at the TCA

Director Paul Verhoeven’s latest is considered one of his best. Michèle Leblanc (Isabelle Huppert) seems indestructible. Head of a successful video game company, she brings the same ruthless attitude to her love life as to business. Being attacked in her home by an unknown assailant changes Michèle’s life forever. When she resolutely tracks the man down, they are both drawn into a curious and thrilling game – one that may, at any moment, spiral out of control. Co-stars include Laurent Lafitte, Anne Cosigny, Charles Berling and Virginie Efira.

This film will be screened at 2 p.m. Sunday (Feb. 19) and at 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday (Feb. 20-22).

Movies at the TCA film series, Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. For tickets and additional information, call the Taos Center for the Arts at (575) 758-2052 or visit tcataos.org.

Fifty Shades Darker

MPAA rating: R for strong erotic sexual content, some graphic nudity and language

Mitchell Storyteller Theatres

When a wounded Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) tries to entice a cautious Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) back into his life, she demands a new arrangement before she will give him another chance. As the two begin to build trust and find stability, shadowy figures from Christian’s past start to circle them, determined to destroy their hopes for a future together. It’s more soft-core titillation that seems less a serious movie than a catalog for high-end toys. Director James Foley shoots a screenplay by Niall Johnson based on the novel by E.L. James. Co-stars include Rita Ora, Kim Basinger, Marcia Gay Harden, Eric Johnson and Bella Heathcote.

This film will be screened daily.

Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

The LEGO Batman Movie

MPAA rating: PG for rude humor and some action

Mitchell Storyteller Theatres

Directed by Chris McKay from a script by a small army of writers, this computer-animated feature is a wild adventure involving Batman and a slate of superheroes — all rendered as if made from LEGO toys. Who’d have thought it’d be so fun?

There are big changes brewing in Gotham, but if Batman (Will Arnett) wants to save the city from the Joker’s (Zach Galifianakis) hostile takeover, he may have to drop the lone vigilante thing, try to work with others and maybe, just maybe, learn to lighten up. Maybe his superhero sidekick, Robin (Michael Cera), and loyal butler, Alfred (Ralph Fiennes), can show him a thing or two.

The film also features the voice talents of Channing Tatum, Rosario Dawson, Jenny Slate, Conan O’Brien, Billy Dee Williams, Zoë Kravitz and Eddie Izzard.

This film will be screened daily.

Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

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