John Wick: Chapter 2 is an Exciting and Worthy Sequel
John Wick: Chapter 2
Review by Daniel Rester
John Wick: Chapter 2 is that rare Hollywood sequel that manages to match the original in terms of quality. Both movies take bloody B-movie mayhem to another level with their use of “gun-fu” and other action techniques. And both are refreshingly welcome in a day and age where numerous action movies are filmed with shaky cam and then shredded in editing.
This chapter finds the revenge-seeking, dog-loving ex-hitman tying up some loose ends from the first film. Afterwards a crime boss named Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) finds Wick (Keanu Reeves) and tells him that Wick owes him a certain debt. D’Antonio says that the debt will be cleared only if Wick agrees to travel to Rome to kill a certain someone.
I found the original John Wick to be fun when I first saw it back in 2014. It has only increased in stature the more I’ve watched it since then. The same might be said of the new film the more I watch it, but only time will tell. These films have given Reeves a great role, with Wick being both mysterious and physical. The actor, now 52, proves he is still up to the challenge of doing intense stunts for the benefit of the audience.
The action, from car chases to guns blazing to hand-to-hand fights, is all breathtaking here. Reeves and the rest of the cast work their asses off, with director Chad Stahelski often shooting in wide angles and holding shots for many seconds. The choreography is simply brilliant — and almost dance-like at times — and Stahelski never cheats it with cheap close-ups or rapid-cut editing.
Chapter 2 does have a weaker character motivation this time around when it comes to Wick getting back in the game. The film is also a bit longer than the first, losing momentum occasionally. Even though the second installment isn’t as emotionally engaging or tightly edited, it does improve in other areas. The fascinating criminal underworld presented in the first film is given deeper exploration here, including that awesome hotel. The locations and supporting characters all pop as well; these characters are played by such welcome faces as Ian McShane, Lance Reddick, Ruby Rose, Laurence Fishburne, and John Leguizamo.
While the film has a lot of excitement and bloody violence, it doesn’t forget to include a sense of humor. The various hitmen and associates present different levels of deadpan wit while Stahelski includes a few humorous sight gags as well. I especially enjoyed the back and forth between Wick and a bodyguard named Cassian (Common), who are equals in ways. A particular scene between them involving a stairwell and then silenced pistols in a subway has a bit of amusing winking to it.
Chapter 2 provides action junkies with their first great ride of 2017; Underworld: Blood Wars and Resident Evil: The Final Chapter certainly didn’t do it. This sequel is a bit repetitive and numbing at times, but it remains consistently stylish and well-crafted throughout – while also having a sense of humor without becoming a parody of itself. Bring on chapter three.
My Grade: B+ (on an F to A+ scale).
MPAA Rating: R (for strong violence throughout, some language and brief nudity.).