The Eyes Of My Mother, review

Nicolas Pesce has written and directed his debut feature film, in which he draws on his love of real life crime as well as Gothic horror movies from the 50s and 60s to tell this tale. Most horror movies love to show you how bloody they can be and how creative they are when they want to off someone. It’s a chance for horror creators and fan to revel in the mess that can be made when a serial killer is let loose. This isn’t the case for The Eyes of My Mother.

The story follows a slightly odd family who have a young daughter being raised in isolation at a farm in USA. The daughter grows up in a house where there is a a shocking a gruesome incident which causes her to become lonely. This manifests itself in her personality at a later age when she’s totally alone after losing both parents and becomes this psychopathic killer. The crimes she commits don’t stop her from trying to live a somewhat normal life, meeting people and bringing them back to her farmhouse. She’s evil and romantic rolled into one.  She is deeply portrayed by Olivia Bond (young Francisca) and Kika Magalhaes (older Francisca) who both give sterling, powerful and quietly understated performances. The cast are all friends of the director’s including Will Brill whose character Charlie has a darkly comic tone and Diana Agostini, the mother who has a very passionately disturbed way about her.

The Eyes of My Mother takes an entirely different direction with it’s approach to it’s own horror. The scenes of the most shocking violence are off screen, something for you to create in your own imagination. The black and white adds to that, giving it not only a dated feel but also a non-stylish version. It keeps it’s characters, story and location very grounded by implying certain acts and certain things which happen. It’s a smart and clever way of telling a story from Pesce, he’s crafted a frighteningly original horror with a female lead, something which is still surprisingly rare. There’s an eerie frustration in not knowing what’s going on, but this is also part of its brilliance. He’s a director who not only knows how to scare you but also when.

4 out of 5.

I spoke to the director, Nicolas Pesce about his directorial debut  The Eyes of My Mother. Check it out here.

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Industry Interview: Nicolas Pesce

I spoke to Nicolas Pesce about his debut film The Eyes of my Mother, a horror set in a family’s country home which he wrote and directed. Here’s what he had to say about his movie, his love for the genre and what he learned about himself.

When you finished this project, how did you feel? Relieved? Excited to get on with the next one?

I was both, relieved and excited. The movie went so quick I didn’t have much time to think about it. We shot it in 3 weeks and I had to cut it in 21 days before submitting it to Sundance, so the making of this movie was the 6 quickest weeks of my life. It was nice because I didn’t have time to be anxious or second guess myself, it was a really pure film making experience. I can trust my instincts, I didn’t have the time not to trust myself, that said I’m the kind of guy who is like as soon as it’s done and screened I’m like “Yes! On to the next one!” I’m ready for a new world to dive into.

That’s great! I found it quite creepy and eerie.

Well, good!

Yeah! What I found interesting was that it was more the horror that was implied the horror. It was cut from one scene to another, certain things seemed to happen off screen. Was that an early decision to not be too graphic?

Yeah I think the only moderately gorey thing you see is someone having their wounds stitched up. That’s because a lot of people have stitches. I think that the audience is better at scaring themselves than I am and if I put something on screen you can look away or divert your attention. All I have to do make you ask  yourself “What’s happening off screen?” and then your brain paints an image and now it’s just ingrained in you. It also forces you to engage more with it and it makes you more interactive which makes it scarier

What added to that was the fact that it’s shot in black and white. Is that your preferred way of doing things?

I wouldn’t say it’s my preferred way but for this movie it felt very appropriate from my inspiration off of the William Castle movies, the 50s and 60s American Gothic horror and none f these are in colour! When Hitchcock made Psycho, it wasn’t the norm to make a black and white movie, as  everyone was making colour movies. He made the choice to make it feel dated. I want the look of the film to be a more expressionistic view of an extension of what’s going on in this character’s mind who lives in this cold harsh reality which are void of any colour or warmth. It’s also a tonal thing, similar to noir films, playing with the shadows, what you can see and what you can’t see. If the film were to be in colour it would be distractingly stylised.

As director and writer of this film, where did the idea come from?

Well, I really wanted to explore a character who would normally be construed as the villain but also show you the banal ordinary side of their life to give you a different perspective of what you might think of a killer. I think no matter how violent a killer is, there’s probably a not very good reason of why they are like that. There’s an instinct in everyone and it comes out in certain people because of certain things and what’s so interesting about it is finding a character you felt sympathy for, have empathy for, but also were disgusted by and, as with real people, have the complexity of having all of those emotions in one. The fact that people are judged on this small, minuscule fraction of their life committing this crime and not to justify it but there’s a lot more life to be explored which would be the telling of why they did that.

The parents have very different ways of parenting their daughter. The mother seems to be over protective, however the father isn’t quite as shy about showing her certain things in life.

Yeah they are, there’s something odd about this family. Between the parental relationships and experience of something like this so young, it’s a bunch of environmental factors which made her who she is. There are certain things which happen in the movie that make me wonder what she’d be like if these things didn’t happen.

Where did you find the actors?

They are friends of mine who I have directed in music videos and Will Brill, who I’ve known for a really long time, he’s used to playing more comedic goofy roles and I thought that bringing this dark clown element to the film has a real juxtaposition about it. There’s something really clowny about him in a jovial and disturbing way and even at his worst, there’s something really darkly humourous about his tone. Kika, I had worked with on a music video, there’s an other worldly quality to her mannerisms, the way she held herself, the way she spoke that I thought that she’s happy and funny in real life. If you took these almost other worldly and alien qualities of her personality and have it a different context, there would be a realism to someone who still feels so odd.

For someone who has been promoting his film, and someone who is new to this, any tips for someone else who is doing something similar?

Well, I think you just have to throw yourself off the diving board and waiting for people to catch you! It’s fun and overwhelming, the most exciting thing is hearing what the audiences have to say. The thing that I love most, is over hearing what people have to say about your movie. It’s rare that you get to experience that, it’s unique and odd, you have people who want to ask you questions and have people come up to me. Just hearing the reaction. I have a better reaction to my film in Europe than I do back home in the Stares. Here there are more venues for art films and interesting genres, people want to see culty stuff. 10 years ago we didn’t know what was going to be cult but now we know from the get go.

Did you learn anything about yourself as a film maker?

Oh yeah! Film making in general you realise a lot about yourself. I wrote this script from a place of being a film fan and a fan of these sorts of stories, and you stand up on a stage where people are asking you why did you make this? It’s made me realise what I’m drawn are certain parts of humanity, that’s what I’m interested in. It makes you realise things about yourself such as I make movies about killers, I listen to podcasts about crimes and I love true crime documentaries and if I was not a film maker I would be an FBI profiler. I’d be trying to find serial killers because what this movie made me realise about myself was gaining an understanding of why people do things that the most part of me thinks is horrible. Crime, violence and murder are the craziest things a person can do to someone else and to explore why that can happen is something that’s very very interesting to me.

Check out the review for The Eyes of My Mother here.

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Justice League Trailer and Posters

Well, it’s about damn time, Snyder! This week we were annoyingly shown a few 20 second-long teaser trailers which pretty much showed nothing and pissed this film fan off! Now Zack Snyder, DC and Warner Bros. are showing us something with a little bit more depth. We have a Justice League trailer.

From the 2 and half minutes of CGI fuckery, we’re shown almost all of the League with Superman being the notably missing one because he’s “dead”. The team band together a couple of times throughout the trailer which shows that they can work together to bring down an enemy who is already here. Bruce Wayne is trecking somewhere to begin with before we see him and Diana Prince converse regarding the others meaning those he has found to form this team of superheroes. Aquaman, Cyborg then The Flash all appear in their respective introductory sections and, before we see them altogether, we’re given a brief glimpse at a swinging almost flying Batman. The action shown is a lot of fun whilst being given to us very sparingly as to not show much of the story. “What are your superpowers again?” “I’m rich”. Nice little double act from Bruce and Barry Allen. We have our first glimpse at Billy Crudup who is playing Barry’s father Henry Allen, as well as J.K. Simmons looking like a more seasoned Commissioner Gordon.

On a personal note, I think it looks too similar to Batman vs. Superman, which isn’t exactly promising. The problems with Snyder’s previous film make for too long a list to include here but the fact that this is primarily full of CGI makes me wonder where they are going with this film. There are strong parts to this trailer including Aquaman who finally has more than one word to say, as a few bits of comedy thrown in due to complaints that DC is taking itself too seriously. My other problem is that DC is rushing it’s way through it’s films, when you compare them to Marvel well, there’s no comparison at all. Marvel have taken their time building it’s own vast universe, slowly introducing the characters it wants to develop, hardly ever putting a foot wrong. Now, DC want the same thing. What they should have done, in my humble opinion, is basically the same thing. It would have worked out a lot better. Handing the reins to the DCEU mostly to Snyder is a huge mistake considering what failures his previous two DC film were. They had their moments but they were not quite what they needed to be. I’m keeping my hopes low and my fingers crossed, come on DC. You need a decent film.

The posters look pretty dam good, the design in sleek and smooth, showing how tough this team is. However some utter morons have commented that apparently Wonder Woman looks as if she’s peeing. What the fuck is wrong with people?! Anyway, check out the gallery below which includes the logo, each individual and the team altogether. Batman looks as if he wants to wants to get out of there and carry on saving the day, calm down! You’ll get your chance!

Directed by Zack Snyder, Justice League is out towards the end of this year. It stars Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Henry Cavill, Ray Fisher, J.K. Simmons, Amy Adams and freaking loads more! The story is set around the start of the Justic League which Bruce Wayne puts together after being inspired by the selfless acts of Superman.

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Spider-Man: Homecoming posters

It’s not long until our favourite wall crawler is back up on the big screen in his own solo movie. Spider-Man: Homecoming is out in just a few months and we’ve not seen much of him lately besides a trailer about 3 months ago and Tom Holland waxing lyrical on the set of Avengers: Infinity War. Well just as a reminder that we’ve got an MCU filled year ahead of us with this as well as images and posters being released for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Thor: Ragnarok, we now also have a couple if brand spanking new posters for Spider-Man. One is a fairly typical Spider-Man pose, sticking to the side of a building and the other is not. Lying down, thinking about whatever this iteration of Peter Parker thinks about, chances are you would have noticed the Avengers tower in both posters, just in case you didn’t know that he is now an Avenger this is set in New York. He’s wearing what is probably an Oscorp jacket in one and hanging off the big A in the other one.

In July we’ll see the story of Spider-Man: Homecoming tell us about Peter dealing with school, girls, being Spider-Man and balancing all of that out. Whilst dealing with all of that he’ll be taking on Michael Keaton’s Vulture. It certainly sounds like we’ve seen it before however with Tom Holland playing this version, someone who looks and sounds like a teen (he’s actually turning 21 this year), his characterisation of the web slinger and without telling his back story again, it will hopefully be very different. Directed by Jon Watts and also starring Marisa Tomei as Aunt May and Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man for the seventh time, this film is the 15th in the MCU. 

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Logan, review

When Hugh Jackman first pitched the idea of Wolverine to his wife, her reaction to a character who can heal and has metal claws wasn’t exactly the most positive. Essentially she thought the character was ridiculous and wouldn’t be particularly successful. At that point neither he or his wife or anyone else would have thought that this would be his most iconic character ever. He’s played Wolverine for 17 years, with the first X-Men film being released in 2000 to huge success. It’s with his final outing as the adamantium clawed animal that he’s made the best X-Men film that there has ever been.

He and James Mangold (director) have teamed up again to create a different look at the comic book genre. Jackman stars as Wolverine in Logan, a film which has a title that’s thought to be a first for a superhero movie: naming it after the main character’s first name. I can’t see us getting a Spider-Man or Batman film being name Peter or Bruce any time soon. With just the name, it felt more personally connected to the title character. It’s who he was before he ever became the Wolverine. The story takes place in 2029, Logan is driving a limousine to make enough money for himself, Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Caliban (Stephen Merchant) who are all living by the border. Charles is suffering from seizures in the world’s most powerful brain, which is what Logan is treating with black market medication. Caliban is a mutant GPS tracking system in that he can locate any mutant wherever they are. During an encounter with a mother and her young daughter Laura (aka X23, played by Dafne Keen) Logan is dragged into a situation which leads to Caliban being taken hostage, the mother being killed and he, Charles and the girl going on the run together. They are being hunted down by Dr. Zander Rice (Richard E. Grant) and his team which includes Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook), a man who appears to know an awful lot about mutants.

Whilst the villains are never fully fleshed out, this ultimately doesn’t matter as it’s about Logan who is worn out, beaten down, weary, he’s drinking a lot more, a shell of the man he used to be. He is no longer healing as quickly as he used to, his claws have become rusty and difficult to use, he is prone to injury a lot easier now. Logan is an old man. He’s got a look as if the weight of the world has come down on him a few times and that there’s not shaking it off. Getting into altercations with those who have special abilities and even those who do not is a tough challenge which he can barely take on. In the opening sequence, which immediately earns it’s 15 rated certificate, he initially struggles to take on a few guys trying to steal from him. He’s shot a few times when finally his rage kicks in and he’s back to his ass kicking former self, with a few swear words thrown in. From here the violence gets ramped up throughout the film but it never feels over the top or unnecessary, it’s what the film needs to be. Wolverine has always been a brutal character so it’s nice to see him get his claws dirty!

Jackman has repeatedly said that this is his final film as Wolverine which he wanted to be the perfect end. On his ninth time around, you could almost forgive him for phoning it in, but this is far from what he does. He has never been better, the raw and visceral performance on display is that of someone who has been through too much to bear. Logan is a man who has been wounded by life time and time again, it’s something you can see in his eyes, the way he shuffles around and at times can hardly even move. Both the emotional and physical side to Jackman’s performance is astonishingly good, how anyone can pull this off after doing it for so many years is just staggering to comprehend. On his seventh time around, Stewart has the perfect balance between sweet old man and going almost senile with his occasional rambling speeches. He brings a heartbreaking performance to someone who has the most powerful brain in the world and can no longer control it, he’s become the dangerous weapon Logan once was, but worse. The trio is completed with Keen, the kick ass young girl Laura with claws in her hands and feet. She’s a feral and precocious character, who’s as vicious as she is angry. Her natural portrayal of a girl who is lost and has no sense of who she is comes across as the most real and genuine performances you would have seen in a long time.

Mangold has created a world which is a very grounded portrayal of superheroes who are struggling to deal with the normality of life. When we see that Logan is looking after an ailing Charles in a few everyday situations it’s in these moments that you realise it’s different to all of the glamorised version we’re use to seeing. The director’s choice of having the western and family themes running throughout, and it being more about its protagonist than the typical good vs. evil story, means that it’s Wolverine as you’ve never seen him. 

Dealing with friends becoming family, ageing, not getting what you want in life and having to deal with things as they come at you, no matter what they are. Hugh Jackman has never been better in anything and it’s such a compliment to the respect he has for Wolverine that not only did he take a pay cut this time, he (politely) refused to do this film in any other way. Pushing it forward with Mangold was a stroke of genius, as they clearly wanted to end it on an emotional high. Jackman’s honest performance feels like the perfect way to say goodbye to his most beloved character.

5 out of 5.

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Thor: Ragnarok New Images

The previous two stand alone Thor films haven’t been great. They’ve had their moments and given us Tom Hiddelston as Loki, who is so far the best Marvel villain, they’ve just been lacking something. But I’ll say this, the worst MCU films are better than the best DCEU films. Thor: Ragnarok is out towards the end of this year, besides a few details confirmed mainly including cast and characters, we haven’t seen a lot just yet. Until now! 

Yes! Images! Sexy, shiny, new and bloody colourful! Turn the colour pallet down guys, I’m going blind from your disco revival! With a lighter looking movie and Thor’s trademark look of long hair whilst wielding his mighty hammer seemingly gone, what are we to make of what we see? Well there’s a meeting of Thor and Bruce Banner who look very excited, Jeff Goldblum has an interesting get-up with his choice of hair, makeup and clothes and Loki is making his return to the MCU after not being seen since the last Thor film. Yay!

From what we know regarding the story, it certainly sounds different. Thor has to face the Hulk, in order to save his people from Hela, played by Cate Blanchett as seen in one of the images below. It’s yet another way the MCU is cleverly incorporating it’s characters into the stand alone films. With the addition of Doctor Strange played by Benedict Cumberbatch, as well as Karl Urban, Tessa Thompson and Sam Neill joining the crew, it’s going to be a very interesting film. Thor: Ragnarok is due for release in October this year and directed by Taika Waititi.

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New Images for Mary Poppins Returns 

There are a lot of nervous people when it comes to the Mary Poppins sequel, it holds a special place in so many people’s hearts and rightly so. Mary Poppins was an instant classic, it’s at the top of a lot of people’s favourite films list and it stars Julie Andrews. Now, whilst you can’t out “Julie” Julie Andrews, the casting of Emily Blunt is sheer perfection. She has the eloquent English look, sound and demeanour. I’m looking forward to seeing her take on this classical character, although I feel I need to watch the 1964 original again. It’s been a while and frankly I can’t remember much of it.

The story of Mary Poppins Returns is set during depression-era London where the now grown up Jane and Michael Banks, along with Michael’s three children are visited by Mary Poppins after a personal loss. Her visit comes at a time when the family needs her help to rediscover happiness and joy in their lives. The film is directed by Rob Marshall whose previous credits include Into the Woods, Pirates of the Caribbean On Stranger Tides and Chicago. Along with Blunt, it also stars Meryl Streep, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Dick Van Dyke, Julie Walters, Colin Firth and Angela Lansbury. It’s due for release during Christmas in 2018, so we’ve got a while to wait still! In the meantime here are a few images, one official and others sneakily taken on set. 

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Prevenge, review

When the Ben Wheatley directed Sightseers came out, it put Alice Lowe at the forefront of British cinema, with her terrifying and hilarious performance as one of the murderous campers. She was well received in a film which isn’t really something for mainstream audiences, yet she made it work. The fact that she co-wrote the film is equally impressive. Well, it seems she has a taste for blood as she stars in her directorial debut, Prevenge which sees a soon-to-be mother exact revenge on several individuals who have done her wrong. Her experience as a writer on Sightseers shines through in a dynamic and original way, coming up with more and more shocking ways to kill her victims.

She stars as Ruth who goes on a murderous rampage during the final weeks of her pregnancy. Her victims are completely clueless until their final moments; she’s charming, sweet, horny, polite and psychotic. All the while, being told to do away with these people by her unborn child, Lowe has perfected the look of someone who can quickly switch between innocence and evil. 

In between her killing spree, we see her have a few sessions with her midwife who has a few gems of advice which appear to ring true. The back and fourth between the two regularly have nuggets of hilarity, as they clearly disagree on almost everything when it comes to life, giving birth and raising a child. A particularly stinging line comes from John Hartley’s midwife who says “You have absolutely no control over your mind or body now. Baby will tell you what to do.” 

We get to know most of her intended victims, of which there’s a misogynistic 70s DJ, an uptight career woman, a fitness freak and more. The DJ in particular seems to have had it coming for a while. You’ll almost be begging Ruth to do away with him after he proceeds to vomit in his afro wig (after which he plants a vomity kiss on Ruth, which will either make you sick, laugh or both.) 

From all of these encounters, she’s captured perfectly what it’s like on a night out trying to take someone home, in an interview situation with no hope, to meet someone genuinely nice but not being able to make it work (killing their flatmate doesn’t help relationships funnily enough). The film is as fun you as it is gruesome with plenty of people meeting their end in bloody fashion that can be compared to a time when horror movies were this gory. 

Alice Lowe was pregnant at the time of filming and, whilst some of her problems as Ruth during her final trimester are extreme, there are points raised which bare resemblance to everyday pregnancies. Not being able to find someone because you’re expecting which leads to Ruth covering up who she is. Interviewing for a job you need in order to make a bit extra but knowing full well that you won’t get it due to your unborn child. Unable to do interesting and adventurous activities because of your “condition” is painfully truthful. In a film about bloody revenge it’s Lowe’s incredible talent and insightful storytelling which takes this tale of vengeance just that much deeper. 

4 out of 5.

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Matt Reeves Confirmed to Direct The Batman

Finally! The white smoke! Matt Reeves has signed on to direct The Batman which will star Ben Affleck as the Dark Knight. After seemingly turning down the job due to a negotiation breakdown, Reeves is now taking over from Affleck, who recently stepped away from directing duties. He sighted that he wouldn’t be able to both direct and star in a Batman film whilst doing the movie the justice (no pun intended) it deserves. 

Reeves says, “I have loved the Batman story since I was a child. He is such an iconic and compelling character, and one that resonates with me deeply. I am incredibly honoured and excited to be working with Warner Bros. to bring an epic and emotional new take on the Caped Crusader to the big screen.”

Ever since Affleck said he’d like to direct and star in a solo Batman movie, the pressure has been on. It’s been painfully unfair on him, the undo demand he appeared to be under from merely mentioning it was shocking. The consistent speculation in the media regarding when it’ll happen, plus always being asked about it despite the fact that he was working on another project at the time, Live by Night.

Affleck released this statement in January, “There are certain characters who hold a special place in the hearts of millions. Performing this role demands focus, passion and the very best performance I can give. It has become clear that I cannot do both jobs to the level they require. Together with the studio, I have decided to find a partner in a director who will collaborate with me on this massive film. I am still in this, and we are making it, but we are currently looking for a director. I remain extremely committed to this project, and look forward to bringing this to life for fans around the world.”

Affleck, Reeves and the studio can now focus on production of the movie which feels like it’s been a long time coming. Rumour has it that Chris Terrio has written a script which both Affleck and the studio is happy with. At the moment there is no set release date for The Batman. 
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John Wick: Chapter 2, review

When John Wick came out in 2015, it was received with shock. Mostly because no one thought that this generic looking action film would be any good, let alone Keanu would be so badass at 50. However it was met with praise from both critics and fans due to it’s hardcore fight scenes and the stunningly well-choreographed gun battles. The fast paced shooting made for not only entertaining viewing but also showed how slick and smooth an action film can look. It subverted the genre and showed that yes, Keanu CAN act. Well, after the surprise success he is of course back for a sequel in John Wick: Chapter 2.

The film opens almost around the time that the first one ends with a high octane chase involving John Wick in a car going after a man on a motorbike, culminating in a crash. From here until he drives away, it’s business as usual. Using his own car, he goes on an all out attack as he runs over, crashes into and beats his assailants whilst barely leaving the vehicle. Arriving at his home we see what he really wanted; he pulls out a greeting card and photo of his dead wife.

For almost an hour after, most of what we see is set up. John has a marker which he must honour as per the rules of the safe house hotel known as The Continental. Wanting to retire for good, he refuses, however after being attacked at home, he takes on his obligatory and hopefully last job. John travels to Rome to execute his target and thus begins his career as a killer once more. The overly long set up once he arrives at his destination feels baggy and boring after being handed such a stunning and brutal opening. Picking his perfect set of weapons as well as having a couple of suits made feels very James Bond and at times also reminds you of Kingsman. But it’s neither of these films after that.

Keanu isn’t quite as good as he is in the first one, his take on one of his most notable roles second time round seems slightly forced. He’s good with a gun but not much else. His conversations with Winston, and pretty much everyone in Chapter 2, makes it look as if Keanu doesn’t want to be there. Whilst Ian McShane is as cool as ever and carries each scene he’s in with his laid back no nonsense demeanour, the pair just aren’t as playful this time around.

Some fans will be excited for the Matrix reunion but even that’s not particularly interesting. John visits Bowery King, played by the slightly hammy Lawrence Fishburne, whose help he needs. But after revealing a scar created by a bullet shot by John years earlier, why would he help him? In exchange for something he’s offered in return? What is it? We never find out. Perhaps something that’s being saved for the sequel but it’s one of several plot points which is unforgivably overlooked. The addition of the wonderful Ruby Rose should have been a stroke of genius had she been able to speak. She communicates through sign language although it’s never apparent that she’s deaf. Essentially she’s boiled down to a pretty face in a suit with a gun.

Directed by Chad Stahelski, the visionary behind the first film, he seems to have forgotten that the best parts of John Wick consisted of Keanu slickly shooting people. Whilst there’s plenty of that there (I won’t tell you how many people he kills in Chapter 2 but, wow!) there are far too many slow paced sequences which adds to the overlong running time. Setting up a film like this shouldn’t take this long and Stahelski knows that. The rule of a sequel is always to go bigger, and it did. Unfortunately.

Altogether John Wick Chapter 2 is nothing like it’s predecessor. It’s heavier, longer and at times just plain boring. With another sequel in the works also to be directed by Stahelski, it’s yet another film turned into an unnecessary trilogy.

3 out of 5.

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