MMT Quick Review of JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 by contributor Darryl King

John Wick Chapter 2

“Wikki, Wikki, Wikki, Wikki….” – Newcleus

The boogeyman is back! And he is better than ever… because John Wick doesn’t retire well.

The first John Wick movie was art imitating life, as it revealed to us the image of a man who was larger than life… cult like status, which eventually mirrored the meteoric rise of this film, this world and its story about an unstoppable hitman forced back into a life that he wishes would just… leave him alone. Unusual circumstances draw him back into his profession and he must complete a task, by oath he is forced to oblige and in the process fight off those determined to kill him. Interesting enough, the John Wick franchise is like a video game on cheat code.

“John Wick: Chapter 2” offers even more action and “Gun Fu” than its predecessor. The film opens with a scene from a Buster Keaton movie, which most will miss, but the old movie footage is foreshadowing as it pays homage to a great action star from yesteryear… declaring to the audience the action packed ride we are about to go on.

Besides the big action scenes, what this film excels at is expanding the world and mythos of the Continental and the rules by which every hitman lives and consequently must abide by. A world that is so intriguing that a film or television series about the Continental and its society is sorely needed.

“John Wick 2” is further enhanced by new characters, generating a wonderful gravitas to the mythos. Common plays the hitman “Cassian”, and he is every much the equal to John Wick, giving us some exciting and exhilarating fight scenes.

Laurence Fishburne plays the mythical “Bowery King,” spiritual leader to a faction of underground assassins who have crossed Wick’s path before and must decide whether to help or hinder him on his journey. When they are on-screen together, I was taken back to the Matrix… so I had to fight the temptation to make Matrix jokes.

If you enjoyed the first John Wick, then you will love the follow-up. The story of how one man can overcome his demons and incredible obstacles by killing and removing everything and everyone in his way.

So “Jam On It”John Wick because this world centers around you and, as the nucleus, boldly declare like the group Newcleus…

“If you want the best
Put me to the test
And I’m sure you’ll soon agree
That I got no force
Cause I’m down by law
When it comes to rockin’ viciously”

Rockin’ heads… rockin’ bodies”… rockin’ life… Jam On It, John Wick!! … John wikki, wikki, wikki…

Darryl King is a video director, film writer and avid Marvel/DC comic book/movie lover. Check out his reviews of Assassin’s Creed and The Accountant right here on MMT.

PS – because Darryl plays too much and now this song is stuck in our heads! 😛

 

MMT Quick Review: BARBERSHOP: THE NEXT CUT

Barbershop: The Next Cut

14 years ago, we met Calvin Palmer (Ice Cube), Eddie (Cedric the Entertainer), Terri Jones (Eve) and the rest of the eclectic crew in the original Barbershop film – where Calvin struggled with his desire to overcome financial burdens by selling the south side Chicago business his grandfather started, until he realized how vital the shop was to the community and the people who regularly gathered and worked. Two years later brought Barbershop 2, with Calvin and the barbershop staff facing gentrification and development issues in the neighborhood. And now Ice Cube and several original cast members – including the aforementioned, Sean Patrick Thomas, Anthony Anderson, and Deon Cole – and a few newcomers (Common, Regina Hall, Nicki Minaj) are back in the latest installment BARBERSHOP: THE NEXT CUT.

In this third film, directed by Malcolm D. Lee (The Best Man Holiday) and co-written by Kenya Barris (Black*ish) & Tracy Oliver (Survivor’s Remorse), the audience finds Calvin once again contemplating selling the shop – but for a more selfless reason this go-round, as his need to keep his teenage son safe in a community impacted by gang violence has become increasingly difficult. The film explores this timely and socially relevant theme, with a few other storylines, the usual amount of humor, and a few tense and serious moments that allude to violence, but are still very appropriate for mature pre-teens & up (it has a PG-13 rating, so use your discretion).

A few weeks back, I spoke with stars Ice Cube and Deon Cole regarding the film. When I asked Cole to share his experience (Black*ish) and thoughts on Barris as storyteller he replied,

“His writing is wholesome, but real and necessary. And he brings that realness to any project he does without beating people over the head – but where they feel, ‘Yeah this actually happens.’ As soon as I knew he was writing, and with Cube and Malcolm D. Lee attached, I prayed every night to be a part of it.”

And viewing this film, the audience is certainly not “beat over the head” but given a look into a very real issue facing communities across the country, with much-needed humor interspersed – and without a doubt it gets barbershop real (watch out for the R. Kelly and Cosby jokes!) with the comedic styling of Cedric the Entertainer, Anthony Anderson, Deon Cole, Lamorne Morris and J.B. Smoove.

There are several things I loved about this film, from the positive display of fatherhood (and how to handle disagreements, with Common and Ice Cube’s characters) to a perfectly cast cameo/appearance by Jamal Woolard – who played the lead in Notorious – as gang leader Marquis. And I always enjoy watching young actor Michael Rainey Jr., who starred with Common in the Sheldon Candis film LUV (see MMT review here) and who currently plays Ghost and Tasha’s son Tariq on the hit show Power.

My only complaint is I would have loved to see Calvin’s wife Jennifer, portrayed by Jazsmin Lewis who’s been in all three films, given more screen time. I think she deserves a little more than a bit part.

But, it was a welcome addition to see Regina Hall whose character (Angie) merged her beauty salon with Calvin’s shop to help them both financially – which brings a completely new dynamic, men vs. women, on most debates inside the shop. Add into this mix a possible love triangle – Eve, Common, Nicki Minaj – and I’d say this movie offers something for everyone’s enjoyment.

Considering MMT gave three opportunities to advance screen, I’m hoping many of the Philly area fam can chime in on this one! What were your thoughts on the film? Who attended the screening with the special appearance by Ice Cube and Deon Cole?

BARBERSHOP: THE NEXT CUT opens nationwide today April 15. And you can check out what Ice Cube told me about Cedric the Entertainer’s warning to the new cast members in my Examiner article here. 🙂

Until next thought, Thomasena

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GIVEAWAY: advanced screening of Barbershop: The Next Cut Wednesday, 3/23 (Philly, PA)

barbershop

We’re excited about this one family! MMT is giving away 25-admit two passes to Wednesday’s Philly red-carpet première of BARBERSHOP: THE NEXT CUT starring Ice Cube, Cedric The Entertainer, Regina Hall, Common, Sean Patrick Thomas, Anthony Anderson, Jaszmine Lewis, JB Smoove and Nicki Minaj. And guess what? Actor/rapper/producer Ice Cube will be in attendance at the Philly première!

To put your name in the hat, send an email with the subject line “Next Cut” and your full name in the body to thinkmusicmovies@gmail.com. This contest is open to website subscribers only. All winners will be selected at random and notified on Monday, March 21.

Watch the trailer below and get additional information at the film’s official website here. BARBERSHOP: THE NEXT CUT opens in theaters nationwide on April 15.

Good luck family!

 

 

GIVEAWAY: advanced screening for ‘RUN ALL NIGHT’ Wednesday, March 4 (Philly, PA area)

Run All Night (photo: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Happy Thursday MMT Family!

Well Liam Neeson is back at it with another action thrill-ride that has him attempting to save a son this go round – similar to his quest to save a daughter in the first Taken movie! Warner Bros.’ Run All Night hits theaters on Friday, March 13 but several lucky MMT readers can see it a week in advance on Wednesday, March 4 at the United Artists King of Prussia theater – but you have to be quick!

To get an admit-two pass, click this link  and follow the “get my passes” prompt.  Passes, like theater seating, are not guaranteed and on a first-come, first-served basis.

Run All Night also stars Joel Kinnaman, Ed Harris – and recent Academy award-winner Common. You can read a synopsis and watch the trailer below, and get additional information about the film at the official website here.

Good luck family! Until next thought, Thomasena

RUN ALL NIGHT synopsis

Brooklyn mobster and prolific hit man Jimmy Conlon (Neeson), once known as The Gravedigger, has seen better days.  Longtime best friend of mob boss Shawn Maguire (Harris), Jimmy, now 55, is haunted by the sins of his past—as well as a dogged police detective (D’Onofrio) who’s been one step behind Jimmy for 30 years.  Lately, it seems Jimmy’s only solace can be found at the bottom of a whiskey glass.  But when Jimmy’s estranged son, Mike (Kinnaman), becomes a target, Jimmy must make a choice between the crime family he chose and the real family he abandoned long ago.  With Mike on the run, Jimmy’s only penance for his past mistakes may be to keep his son from the same fate Jimmy is certain he’ll face himself…at the wrong end of a gun.  Now, with nowhere safe to turn, Jimmy just has one night to figure out exactly where his loyalties lie and to see if he can finally make things right.

IN THEATERS MARCH 13

A Quick Review of LUV

luv-LUVCommonMichaelRaineyJrCredit_BillGray_rgb

Hey there Music Movie fam!  How is 2013 treating you so far?  I have to tell you, I’ve been very blessed by it and we are only two weeks in, so I can’t wait to see what else this year has to offer :). Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of viewing a film that comes out this Friday, January 18th, called LUV starring actor, rapper Common (Just Wright, American Gangster) and newcomer Michael Rainey Jr.  With both of the aforementioned delivering powerful performances, the film also features standout performances from Charles S. Dutton (The Obama Effect, Fame), Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon, Mooz-lum), Michael Kenneth Williams (The Wire, Brooklyn’s Finest) and the incomparable, insurance selling voice himself Dennis Haysbert (The Unit, 24).  LUV also has a cameo by the talented Meagan Good (Think Like A Man, Deception), and I know my fellow “Sparklelites” will appreciate seeing veteran actor Lonette McKee (Sparkle – 1976, Malcolm X) on the big screen delivering a solid performance as Common’s mother.

luv-LUVDennisHaysbertCredit_BillGray_rgbLUV tells the story of 11-year-old Woody Watson who, with his mother in rehab and his father out of the picture, lives with his grandmother (Lonette McKee) in suburban Baltimore and longs for his family to be reunited. His charismatic Uncle Vincent (Common) has recently returned home after eight years in prison, determined to straighten out his life by opening a high-end crab shack that will establish him as a solid citizen with a legitimate future.

One day, instead of dropping Woody off at school, Vincent decides to give the boy a tutorial on how a man gets things done. After a trip to a tailor to get Woody a custom-fitted suit, the pair heads to the bank to sign off on the loan Vincent needs to fulfill his dreams. But when his meeting with a bank officer puts the brakes on his plans, Vincent has no one to turn to for help but his former associates, including Baltimore crime boss Mr. Fish (Dennis Haysbert) and his brother Arthur (Danny Glover). A day that begins with a parking- lot driving lesson and Woody’s first oyster takes a desperate turn when Fish insists Vincent run one more drug deal to demonstrate his loyalty. Soon Vincent finds himself pulled back into the violent world he is trying to escape—and Woody has to decide whether to follow his hero…or become his own man. luv-Common-Danny_rgb
LUV is the début feature film by director Sheldon Candis, from a script by Candis and Justin Wilson, and is one of the best coming of age stories I’ve seen in a long time.  Mr. Candis was brilliant in his depiction of his native Baltimore, drawing the viewer in to the point of eerie familiarity; I swore at times I was looking at Philly streets.  The movie also moves well with a 1 hour 34 minute running time, and keeps your attention until its climactic ending. You know I don’t do spoilers, but I will say there are some gritty and violent parts, with adult language, hence an R rating.  I would highly recommend this movie for mature pre-teens and teens, as there are definitely some honest lessons to be shared.  And for the weeping willows, like myself, you may want to bring tissue (that’s all :P).

Now remember, this is an independent film and that means…you guessed it, support it opening weekend!  And make sure to do it Friday, Saturday or a matinée on Sunday so those numbers can make the most impact :).  You can check out the trailer below, and stop back by and let me know your thoughts after you see the film.

Until next thought family, Thomasena