REVIEW: JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2

Starring

Keanu Reeves (47 Ronin)
Riccardo Scamarcio (Burnt)
Ian McShane (Hellboy)
Ruby Rose (Batwoman)
Common (Terminator: Salvation)
Claudia Gerini (THe Poison Rose)
Lance Reddick (Jonah Hex)
Laurence Fishburne (Hannibal)
Tobias Segal (The Drop)
John Leguizamo (Spawn)
Bridget Moynahan (Battle: Los Angeles)
Thomas Sadoski (Wild)
Peter Stormare (Armageddon)
Peter Serafinowicz (The Tick)

Keanu Reeves and Common in John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)Four days after the events of the first film, former assassin John Wick retrieves his stolen 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429 from a chop shop owned by Abram Tarasov, brother of Viggo and uncle of Iosef. John dispatches Tarasov’s men in a violent rampage that heavily damages the Mustang, but spares Tarasov under the auspices of peace and returns home, cementing his weapons into the ground once again.Keanu Reeves in John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)After car shop owner Aurelio takes John’s Mustang for repairs, John is visited by Italian crime lord Santino D’Antonio. It is revealed that to complete his “impossible task”, which allowed him to retire and marry Helen, John asked Santino for help. As a form of contract, Santino swore John to a “marker”, an unbreakable promise symbolized by a “blood oath” medallion. Santino presents the medallion to demand services from John, who declines, claiming that he is retired. In retaliation, Santino destroys John’s home with a ARWEN 37 nonlethal launcher modified to shoot incendiary ammunition.Keanu Reeves in John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)John travels to The Continental Hotel in New York City. Winston, the owner of the hotel, reminds John that if he rejects the marker, he will be violating one of the two unbreakable rules of the underworld: no blood on Continental grounds, and every marker must be honored. John reluctantly accepts his commitment and meets with Santino, who tasks him with assassinating his sister Gianna so he can claim her seat on the “High Table”, a council of high-level crime lords. Santino sends Ares, his mute personal bodyguard, to surveil John.Keanu Reeves in John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)In Rome, Italy, John infiltrates Gianna’s coronation party and confronts her in her dressing room. Faced with certain death, Gianna chooses to take her own life by slitting her wrists. As Gianna dies, John holds her hand and shoots her in the head. Cassian, Gianna’s bodyguard, recognizes John and, after realizing that John was sent to kill Gianna, attacks him. John escapes to the catacombs, where he is ambushed by Santino’s henchmen, who intend to “tie up loose ends” by killing him. After killing most of the henchmen, John is pursued by Cassian. Their battle is halted when they crash into the reception area of the Rome Continental, which—like the New York Continental—prohibits any “business” on its grounds. As the two share a tense drink, Cassian vows revenge for Gianna’s death.Keanu Reeves in John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)After John returns to New York City, Santino opens a $7 million contract for John’s death under the guise of avenging his sister, leading numerous assassins to unsuccessfully attack John. Eventually, Cassian confronts John once again in the subway. John wins the fight and badly wounds Cassian, but leaves him alive out of professional respect. Injured and desperate, John seeks help from an underground crime lord titled the Bowery King, whose subordinates treat John’s injuries and guide him to Santino’s location. John kills Santino’s bodyguards and defeats Ares in a knife fight, but Santino is able to escape to the Continental. Santino smugly makes it clear that he intends to remain indefinitely in its sanctuary. Despite Winston’s warnings, John shoots and kills Santino in the Continental lounge.Keanu Reeves in John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)The next day, Winston sends for John and explains that, per the High Table, the contract on John has been doubled and offered globally. As a consequence of killing Santino on Continental grounds, Winston declares John “excommunicado” from the Continental, losing all access and privileges to the Continental’s underworld resources. However, Winston delays announcing John’s excommunication and global bounty by one hour to give him a head start, and provides him with a marker for future use. Before leaving, John advises Winston to make it known that whoever tries to come after him will be killed. As John and his dog run through the park, dozens of cellphones around him ring, signaling that the global contract is about to be posted and offered.Keanu Reeves and Ian McShane in John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)John Wick 2 is an exciting joy ride for action fans and hopes to see more from this. I recommend seeing it, which you would not be disappointed.

REVIEW: JOHN WICK

Starring

Keanu Reeves (47 Ronin)
Michael Nyqvist (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo)
Alfie Allen (Game of Thrones)
Adrianne Palicki (The Orville)
Bridget Moynahan (Battle: Los Angeles)
Dean Winters (Terminator: TSCC)
Ian McShane (Hellboy)
John Leguizamo (Spawn)
Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man)
Bridget Regan (Agent Carter)
Lance Reddick (Jonah Hex)

Keanu Reeves in John Wick (2014)After John Wick loses his wife, Helen, to a terminal illness, he receives a beagle puppy named Daisy from his late wife to help him cope with his grief. Despite John’s stoic demeanor, he bonds with the puppy and they spend their day driving around in his vintage 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1. At a gas station, he encounters a trio of Russian gangsters whose leader, Iosef Tarasov, insists on buying his car, but John repeatedly states that it is not for sale. Angered, Iosef and his mobsters follow John to his home that night, knock him unconscious, steal his car, and kill Daisy.Keanu Reeves in John Wick (2014)Iosef takes the Mustang to a chop shop run by Aurelio to have the VIN changed. Aurelio recognizes the car and, upon learning that Iosef stole it from John, punches him before throwing him out of his shop. John visits Aurelio, who tells him Iosef is the son of Viggo Tarasov, the head of the Russian crime syndicate in New York City. Viggo, informed by Aurelio of Iosef’s activity with John, beats and berates Iosef before explaining to him who John Wick is: an assassin, formerly in Viggo’s employ, nicknamed “Baba Yaga” (translated in the film as Russian for “Boogeyman”) due to his lethal works. When John wanted to retire and marry Helen, Viggo gave him an “impossible task,” implied to involve multiple assassinations in a short period of time. John succeeded, and his efforts were key in establishing the Tarasov syndicate.Keanu Reeves and Alfie Allen in John Wick (2014)Viggo tries to talk John out of seeking retribution, but John silently refuses. Viggo then sends a thirteen-man hit squad to John’s house, but John kills them all and has the bodies professionally removed. An unsurprised Viggo places a $2 million bounty on John’s head and personally offers the contract to John’s mentor, Marcus. John seeks refuge at the Continental Hotel, which caters exclusively to the criminal underworld and permits no “business” on its premises. Viggo doubles the bounty for those willing to break the rules to kill John at the Continental.Keanu Reeves, Daniel Bernhardt, Michael Nyqvist, and Vladislav Koulikov in John Wick (2014)Winston, the Continental’s owner, tells John that Viggo has Iosef protected at his nightclub, the Red Circle. John enters the Red Circle and kills his way to Iosef, but Viggo’s henchman, Kirill, waylays John, allowing Iosef to escape. John retreats to the Continental to patch up his injuries. Ms. Perkins, an assassin and former acquaintance, sneaks into John’s room to kill him, but Marcus alerts John, allowing him to subdue Perkins. He forces Perkins to reveal the location of Viggo’s front, knocks her unconscious and leaves her with fellow assassin, Harry, to await punishment. However, Perkins frees herself and kills Harry.Keanu Reeves in John Wick (2014)John travels to the Little Russia church which serves as Viggo’s front and destroys Viggo’s cache of money and blackmail material. When Viggo and his team arrive, John ambushes them, but he is subdued and captured. Viggo taunts John for thinking he could leave his old life behind. Before John can be killed, Marcus intervenes again, allowing John to free himself, kill Kirill, and accost Viggo, who reveals Iosef’s location. John then travels to the safe house and kills Iosef and his bodyguards. Perkins learns that John and Marcus have been in contact and tells Viggo, who has Marcus beaten and tortured before executing him in his home. Viggo calls John to report this, planning to have Perkins ambush him. While waiting for John, Perkins is called to a meeting with Winston, who has her executed for killing Harry on Continental grounds.Keanu Reeves in John Wick (2014)Winston calls John to inform him that Viggo is planning to escape by helicopter. John races to the harbor helipad, where he kills Viggo’s remaining henchmen before engaging Viggo in a brutal brawl on the dock. Viggo pulls a knife, and John allows himself to be stabbed, surprising Viggo. John then disarms Viggo and fatally wounds him. John breaks into a waterfront animal clinic to treat his wound and releases a pit bull puppy scheduled to be euthanized. John and the dog walk home along the boardwalk where he had his last date with Helen.Keanu Reeves in John Wick (2014)What makes John Wick different from other shoot em’ up movies is that we’re provided with details of John’s former life, including old partners and a hotel front which leads the audience eager to wonder the many tales that can be told about John Wick. The movie is fast paced, never really a dull moment, and it always keeps you wondering what he’s going to do next and how.

REVIEW: ONE FOR THE MONEY

CAST

Katherine Heigl (Roswell)
Jason O’Mara (Resident Evil: Extinction)
Daniel Sunjata (The Dark Knight Rises)
John Leguizamo (Spawn)
Sherri Shepherd (Precious)
Debbie Reynolds (In & Out)
Fisher Stevens (Short Circuit)
Patrick Fischler (Happy!)
Leonardo Nam (Westworld)
Louis Mustillo (Mike & Molly)

 

Katherine Heigl and Jason O'Mara in One for the Money (2012)Stephanie Plum, out of work and out of cash, turns in desperation to her disreputable cousin Vinnie, of Vinnie’s Bail Bonds, for work. Despite having no equipment, training or particular skill she becomes a bail enforcement agent, chasing after Vinnie’s highest stakes bail jumper: Joe Morelli, a former vice cop who is wanted for murder, who also happened to seduce and dump Stephanie back in high school after taking her virginity.
Katherine Heigl in One for the Money (2012)In the midst of the chase, Stephanie has to deal with her meddling family, a problematic tendency of witnesses who die when she gets too close, and lessons in bounty hunting from the mysterious Ranger. When she finally catches up to Morelli, she realizes that the case against him doesn’t add up and that the old flame from their school days may just be rekindling.Katherine Heigl and Daniel Sunjata in One for the Money (2012)This adaptation of Janet Evanivich’s book is well done and a lot of fun. Katherine Heigl is excellent in the role of Stephanie Plum. Apparently the author considered Katherine perfect for this role after seeing her in another movie. This is light entertainment with a few quirks and unpredictable points of view,  and overall a very enjoyable hour and a half.

REVIEW: WHEN THEY SEE US

When They See Us (2019)

Starring

Caleel Harris (Goosebumps 2)
Jovan Adepo (Mother!)
Chris Chalk (Gotham)
Kylie Bunbury (Game Night)
Aunjanue Ellis (The Help)
Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel)
Felicity Huffman (Cake)
John Leguizamo (Kick-Ass 2)
Niecy Nash (Scream Queens)
Michael K. Williams (12 Years a Slave)

When They See Us (2019)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUESTCASY

William Sadler (Iron Man 3)
Aurora Perrineau (Truth or Dare)
Blair Underwood (Agents of SHIELD)
Joshua Jackson (Fringe)
Omar Dorsey (Our House)
Suzzanne Douglas (School of Rock)
Famke Janssen (X-Men)
Christopher Jackson (Moana)
Logan Marshall-Green (Prometheus)
Storm Reid (12 Years a Slave)
Adepero Oduye (Geostorm)
Dascha Polanco (Orange Is The New Black)

Marquis Rodriguez in When They See Us (2019)When They See Us,  premiering on Netflix, is the kind of miniseries you get when the right showrunner assembles the right team and right performers with the unequivocating intent to correct an important story that many people still get wrong. In this case, the celebrated producer, director and screenwriter Ava DuVernay (“Selma”; “Queen Sugar”) takes on the injustice of what happened to the Central Park Five — four African American men and one Hispanic man who, as teenagers, were rounded up, taken to a police precinct office and coerced into saying they brutally assaulted and raped a white woman who was jogging in Central Park one evening in April 1989.When They See Us (2019)There was never any physical evidence that they did. The boys, who ranged in age from 14 to 16, confessed after many hours of coercion, intimidation and threats from detectives; two of the boys were separately urged by their fathers to tell the police what they wanted to hear. In media coverage, the boys were compared to savages who took part in a “wilding” crime spree. The real estate mogul Donald Trump took out newspaper ads to demand their execution. The boys — Korey Wise, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson and Antron McCray — were found guilty on some of the charges in a 1990 trial. They spent between six and 13 years in detention centers and prisons. As everyone ought to know by now, the jogger’s true attacker confessed in 2002 and his DNA matched the physical evidence. A state Supreme Court vacated the Central Park Five’s sentences on the district attorney’s recommendation. As adults, the five men sued the city and finally reached a $41 million settlement in 2014When They See Us (2019)If the next words that occur to you are “Yes, but what about the victim?” (meaning the jogger, Trisha Meili, who wrote a memoir and still publicly expresses her doubt about a lone attacker, as well as her disappointment that the city agreed to a settlement), then it seems you have two options, 30 years later: You can absorb what “When They See Us” is trying to tell you, or you can retreat comfortably back to the open-shut templates of “Law & Order” reruns.When They See Us (2019)Split into four episodes, DuVernay’s approach bluntly but successfully turns this story inside-out, borrowing the look of true-crime dramas while discarding the genre’s usual tropes. It focuses primarily on the boys, their families and the irreparable effects of their jailing. Rather than lionize them, it goes one better and humanizes them. As the title suggests, it’s all about how they were seen, and, by extension, how most minority teenage boys are still often seen — not as children and young citizens, but as potential thugs. The series is deftly attuned to context, portraying a late-’80s New York that seethes with mob mentality when it comes to solving and prosecuting this particular crime — which, to be sure, was both heinous and infuriating. This is a drama about modern lynching; rather than leading to a noose and branch, it follows the Central Park Five on a ruinous trip through a penal system that finds ways to punish inmates even after they’re paroled.SEI_70399735In tone and execution, “When They See Us” fits somewhere between John Ridley’s underwatched ABC anthology “American Crime,” which also subverted the procedural genre in revealing ways, and Ryan Murphy’s FX hit “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story,” which taught viewers a thing or two about the effects of time and context. Without any background primer, the first episode moves quickly through the night of the crime and the days after, beginning with the adolescent lure of watching a group of one’s peers decide, in the moment, to head off to Central Park on a spring evening. The pace and dialogue are not expository, nor do they provide much time to get to know the boys intimately as characters. (That comes later.) The young actors playing the teens (Jharrel Jerome as Korey; Ethan Herisse as Yusef; Caleel Harris as Antron; Asante Blackk as Kevin; Marquis Rodriguez as Raymond) ably convey the confusion and panic of being misidentified, hauled in and falsely accused.la-1559144992-gzayf72d4e-snap-imageFelicity Huffman (talk about timing) plays Linda Fairstein, the newly appointed head of the district attorney’s sex-crimes unit, who arrives at the crime scene not long after an unconscious, nearly dead Meili was discovered. “When They See Us” is unsparing in the way it portrays Fairstein pushing detectives to make the case fit the wilding narrative. You better believe DuVernay is in no mood to re-litigate, build a Wikipedia page or pay lip service to anybody’s doubts. Here, in this telling, the cops are almost always corrupt, Fairstein is menacingly reckless and the prosecutor (Vera Farmiga as Elizabeth Lederer) lucks out in the second episode with a jury willing to convict the boys based on the videotaped confessions alone.WTSU_102_Unit_01838R-1This swift treatment of the crime and the trial allows DuVernay and her co-writers(Robin Swicord, Attica Locke, Yusuf Hassan and Michael Starrbury) to spread their wings in the series’ second half: Once the headlines die down, the boys become men — first languishing behind bars and then, after most of them make parole, trying to put their lives back together. The story of their parents and family (with fine performances from Niecy Nash, John Leguizamo and Michael K. Williams, among others) also begin to take shape. The showstopper comes in the fourth episode, as Korey, who was tried and convicted as an adult rather than as a juvenile, embarks on a violently terrifying, dozen-year journey through the state prison system, which includes a long detour into solitary confinement and a heartbreaking, hallucinatory (yet artfully envisioned) glimpse of his past and present. Jerome, the only actor in the series to play both the teen and adult versions of his character, gives a remarkable performance, as the system beats Korey down to the mental equivalent of rubble and he emerges as an entirely different man. When the news of his freedom comes — and the series reaches its full, swelling sense of the miraculous — the viewer will finally understand his or her part in all this: All that’s being asked of us is to see.

 

REVIEW: COLLATERAL DAMAGE

CAST

Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Terminator)
Francesca Neri (Hannibal)
Elias Koteas (Hit Me)
Cliff Curtis (Jubilee)
John Leguizamo (Kick-Ass 2)
John Turturro (Transformers)
Jsu Garcia (A Nightmare On Elm Street)
Rick Worthy (The Vampire Diaries)
Raymond Cruz (Breaking Bad)
Miguel Sandoval (Medium)
Harry Lennix (Man of Steel)
Jane Lynch (Glee)
Jay Acovone (Terminator 3)
Tyler Posey (Teen Wolf)
Michael Milhoan (The Spirit)
Sven-Ole Thorsen (Mallrats)

A bomb detonates in the plaza of the Colombian Consulate building in Los Angeles, killing nine people, including a caravan of Colombian officials and American intelligence agents. Among the civilians killed are the wife and son of LAFD firefighter, Captain Gordon “Gordy” Brewer, who was injured in the explosion. A tape is sent to the U.S. State Department, in which a masked man calling himself “El Lobo” (The Wolf) claims responsibility, explaining it was in retaliation for the oppression of Colombia by the United States. The FBI believes El Lobo is a Colombian terrorist named Claudio Perrini. CIA Special Agent Peter Brandt, the Colombia Station Chief, is harshly reprimanded for the incident by a Senate Oversight Committee, who promptly terminate all CIA operations in Colombia. Brandt angrily returns to Mompós and meets with his paramilitary allies to plan a major offensive to take down Claudio.
Frustrated at the political red tape regarding the investigation, Brewer travels to Mompós to personally hunt down Claudio but is quickly arrested for illegal entry. The guerrillas stage a prison break to free their comrades and abduct Brewer to demand a large ransom for him. Brandt’s unit is alerted to Brewer’s presence in Colombia but arrive too late. Brewer escapes the prison, avoids being captured, and secures a guerrilla zone pass from Canadian mechanic Sean Armstrong. Armstrong introduces him to drug runner Felix Ramirez, the manager of the cocaine distribution facility that finances the guerrillas. Pretending to be a mechanic, Brewer rigs several improvised explosives and destroys the facility. Felix is blamed for the destruction of the drug plant and is executed in front of a hiding Brewer’s eyes. Brewer infiltrates Claudio’s headquarters and plants a bomb to kill him, but he is captured when he tries to prevent a woman, Selena, from being caught in the blast radius along with her son, Mauro. At Claudio’s home compound, Selena reveals she is Claudio’s wife. She and Claudio once lost their own child during an American attack, which compelled Claudio to become a terrorist; Selena found and adopted Mauro, whose parents were killed in the attack. Nevertheless, Selena sympathizes with Brewer and admits that Claudio is planning another bombing in Washington, D.C..
Meanwhile, Brandt’s unit locates Claudio’s compound and launches an attack. During the ensuing shootout, Selena helps free Brewer and, along with Brandt, travels back to the State Department in Washington, D.C. to help the search effort for Claudio. Selena identifies Union Station as the target, and the FBI investigates. On the pretense of using the lavatory, Selena excuses herself from the command room and becomes irritated when Mauro refuses to come with her. When Brewer sees Selena make the same gesture as the masked man who claimed to be El Lobo in the tape, he realizes that she was the Wolf all along, and Claudio serves as her figurehead. Furthermore, Brewer surmises the real target is the State Department, and that he was used to help Selena get past the building’s security. Brewer quickly throws Mauro’s toy dinosaur, which is carrying a bomb, out a window moments before it explodes. Brandt, realizing Brewer’s suspicions, is shot and killed trying to stop Selena from fleeing the building.
Brewer chases Selena to the basement of the building where she and Claudio ride off through the underground tunnels on a motorcycle. Brewer finds the tunnel control console and shuts the gates, preventing their escape. Brewer chops open some gas lines along the walls of the tunnel and, as they ride back, Selena shoots at Brewer, igniting the gas. Brewer jumps through a doorway just as the entire tunnel explodes. Selena and Claudio survive the blast, however, and attack him simultaneously. After a short, hand to hand fight, Selena is electrocuted by being tossed on the exposed circuitry of the control panel, and Claudio is finally killed when Brewer throws an axe into his chest. In the aftermath, Brewer carries Mauro in his arms as they leave the State Department. A newscast voiceover explains that Brewer will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom for preventing one of the worst terrorist attacks in U.S. history from taking place.
Overall, Collateral Damage is a very good film and it is matched by a very good dvd, highly recommended!