So I watched John Wick: Chapter 2…
I was extremely excited for this movie. The first John Wick while lacking in quality acting and story at times was an action masterpiece. The beauty in the choreography of the fight scenes and the innovative intimacy used to display gun battles was absolutely amazing. I didn’t care why John Wick was back, I just wanted someone to “get this man a gun.”
Okay, basic plot: After completing his mission to avenge the death of his dog, John Wick (Keana Reeves) look forwards to returning to the retired life. Unfortunately John’s return to the business has ripples that extend further than his mission of vengeance. John finds himself pulled back into the world of high-level crime and assassination. This time, however, John Wick isn’t just the hunter and finds himself on the run, fighting for his life against countless enemies.
There’s something that I’m obligated to say before I can sink my teeth into the meat of this review. Keanu Reeves – bless his soul – is a poor actor. John Wick is a solemn, soft-spoken man so Keanu’s patented acting style of confused/conflicted stares and monotonous speech works perfectly. However Keanu takes it too far or rather doesn’t take it far enough and ends up making John Wick feel like a zombie instead of a sullen character during his emotional scenes.
Now that I’ve said that and appeased the “Fine Acting Gods”, let’s get into the real reason anyone buys a ticket to see this film. Keanu might not be much when it comes to acting but he is a BEAST when it comes to action. Everything that I loved about the action in the first movie is brought back and expanded on in this film. The long-tracking shots to fully display the intricate and beautiful choreography; the restraint shown in addition of cuts to allow the action to feel like a single, flowing scene and, of course, the intimacy introduced in the way John Wick uses a gun. I said this during my review of the first film and I’ll say it again – no one fires a gun like John Wick! It isn’t just a weapon for long-range eliminations, it’s an extension of his hand. He fires a bullet like he’s throwing a punch and this adds a versatility to the acting that I’ve never seen before.
There’s also a rawness to this film’s action which I loved. Yes, John Wick is a master assassin who can kill multiple enemies with a pencil but there are moments when he has to dig down and struggle for the win. These moments of struggle actually make him look more skillful because of the improvisation and heart he has to show in order to get a win. It also adds a fragility to the character, a fragility which is becoming more and more rare in the franchise-driven world of current cinema. John Wick is a badass but he’s also human and the fact that he could die at any moment adds an intensity to every fight scene. Yes, there are already talks of a third John Wick film so a franchise is being built; but the action is constructed in a way that every brawl Wick finds himself in could be his last. It’s beautiful to watch.
John Wick: Chapter 2 also does the fantastic job of actually improving on its predecessor’s story. The original John Wick felt like it ran out of steam in its final third and trudged to its ending. Chapter 2, however, keeps the action rolling not only in terms of fight scenes and exciting set-pieces but also in terms of its story. The threats are never ending for John and even as the film draws to a close it manages to maintain a high level of energy and suspense.
Furthermore, the mysterious criminal world described in the first film is expanded on and taken international. Chapter 2 actually reminded me a lot of 2015’s runaway hit, Mad Max: Fury Road. Every detail of the plot is not explained or discussed in elaborate detail. We’re given a rough outline of things and allowed the room to let our imagination fill in the rest. You have to understand that this isn’t the same as when a film has plot holes or content missing. The world of John Wick is one of rules and structure. The explanation of these rules could form an entire movie in itself. We’re shown things with enough detail for us to understand them but not enough detail for us to completely master the idea of them. This leads to an engaging film that requires you to analyse and decipher things as much as it asks you to sit back and enjoy the gore.
Overall, John Wick: Chapter 2 is a wonderful sequel. It improves on the things that made the original a classic but also adds new content and sets itself apart. The action has never been better and the criminal world it all takes place in is vast and immersive. Yes, Keanu’s acting is suspect but there’s only things you need to do, 1. “get this man a guy” and then 2. sit back and enjoy. 7/10