John Wick: Chapter Two Review

John Wick. A man of focus. Commitment. Sheer fuckin’ will. When I first saw the 2014 thriller, I was enthralled by how well it set itself apart from other action movies of the time. What made John Wick so great was its attention to detail, particularly with the firearms. The guns Wick used actually needed reloading, and he used a lot of his environment (and fists) to kill the bad guys. It also humanised the main character; most action heroes are stone-cold robots, but Wick slept in, ate cereal in his pyjamas and, most of all, he got emotional. I have to commend Keanu Reeves, Chad Stahelski and Derek Kolstad for how they developed the character, as John Wick soon became one of my favourite action movies of all time.

With the success and popularity of the film, a sequel was inevitable. John Wick: Chapter Two began pre-production in February 2015 and filming started in autumn of that same year. It opened on Valentine’s Day weekend alongside Fifty Shades Darker and The Lego Batman Movie, and while it came third in the Box Office for that weekend, I think it would be the best film to recommend of the three.

John Wick Chapter Two opens as a sequitur to the first; a motorcycle cruises quickly through the streets of New York City, with Wick in hot pursuit. Minutes later, he is already dispatching of many Russian mobsters through various forms of violent methods. The action in Chapter Two is amped up from the first; as if Stahelski took what worked well in the first movie and decided to use it more. Despite the increase in frequent action sequences, the film’s content never grows stale and it doesn’t detract from the drama.

Keanu Reeves merges well back into the lead role, and his performance is prominently reinforced by an amazing roster of supporting stars. Alongside the returning cast such as Lance Reddick and Ian McShane, Ruby Rose stars as Ares, a subsidiary antagonist with a unique disposition about her, while Riccardo Scamarcio shines delightfully as the main villain. There’s also a small appearance by Laurence Fishburne as an underground crime lord, which marks a reunion between he and Reeves since they worked together on the Matrix trilogy.

As far as direction goes, I think Chad Stahelski and cinematographer Dan Laustsen will go on to do even grander projects. The thing I love about John Wick’s art style is its courtesy to attaining a graphic novel aesthetic. Every frame feels like a panel from a gritty comic book. It’s too bad the John Wick IP has gone into videogames rather than print; the games side is lacklustre while a graphic novel would be breath-taking.

As a successor to the original, John Wick Chapter Two hits all the right notes. It’s a good blend of action, drama and even some comedy. It flows nicely and almost seamlessly from the first, making for satisfactory repeat viewings, and the ending leaves you screaming for more. For now I’ll have to sit in my Continental hotel room, waiting for Chapter Three.

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