Movie Review: ‘John Wick: Chapter 2’
Director: Chad Stahelski
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Riccardo Scamarcio, Common, Ian McShane, Ruby Rose, Laurence Fishburne
Plot: John Wick murders a bunch of assholes.
Review: First, shut up we only just got it here. I know you’ve already seen it but we’ve been waiting!
Also, HOW GOOD ARE JOHN WICK MOVIES‽ If you haven’t seen the first one, it’s about a guy named John Wick. Some Russian gangsters steal his car and kill his puppy, unaware that John Wick is a retired assassin referred to in hushed tones as ‘The Boogeyman’. John Wick then murders absolutely bloody everyone to get his revenge.
That may sound like a pretty thin premise, but so did Mad Max: Fury Road. And like that epic masterpiece of apocalyptia the strength of John Wick comes from the spectacle. It looks a treat with stunning locations and strong use of bold colours in contrast to Wick’s black suit, the fight choreography is top class and entirely unique with Wick demonstrating a hypnotic precision in methodically taking henchmen down. There’s this fascinating underground world with it’s own laws, codes and economy, and we get introduced to it through exposure, not explanation. In addition the editing is on point in an era of lazy cutting. If you want to learn editing, these films are your bible. It’s an indulgent film on every level.
So what does John Wick: Chapter 2 offer? More of the same? Well, yes and no. It has everything else that the first one had, and then built on that. Some people piss off John Wick and he delivers a Wrath of God revenge plan that involves murdering everyone in increasingly awesome fights. First Wick gets dragged into completing a job in Rome, then he’s betrayed and has to take out a band of colourful assassins hunting him, then he murders everyone left, then it ends with the promise of more to come. And it’s fantastic! The extended sequence fighting a group of henchmen in a museum gallery full of rotating mirrors and laser shows looks phenomenal and must’ve been a nightmare of logistics. If you like action movies you’re doing yourself a disservice not seeing it.
As to the ‘no, it’s not more of the same’, this new chapter builds on the weird, secret world of the assassins we got a surface look at in the first. We learn more about the Continental, the people who run it, who some of the other players are and how extensive it is. The tattooed phone operators are especially cool, plenty of style in this movie.
It looks like a bunch of actors saw the first film and immediately rang the producers to ask, “hey, can I get in on this?” To which the producers flung their doors wide open and invited them all over for a party. Every small supporting role is filled with a cool actor. Laurence Fishburne, Ruby Rose, Peter Stormare, Peter Serafinowicz…it just looks like everyone is having a blast being involved.
Finally, there was a distinct sense of excitement when John Wick came on screen during our local premiere. It was clear everyone around us had seen the first one and knew what to expect, and were hyped up to see more. That made me consider something about my reviews. Whenever I review a new action movie I describe the action as ‘creative’, ‘unique’ or ‘visually interesting’. I don’t use the word ‘exciting’ often enough for a genre named ‘Action’.
John Wick: Chapter 2 is exciting. It gets the heart pumping and the audience were laughing with glee at madness on screen. We haven’t had an action franchise like good since The Raid movies. Now make a third one. And call it The Death of John Wick. I would line up for a month to see how that movie ends.
Rating: NINE out of TEN