John Wick: Chapter 2 [Review]
John Wick: Chapter 2 is the follow up to 2014s surprise action hit of the same name. Director Chad Stahelski, Writer Derek Kolstad and the nicest guy in Hollywood, Keanu Reeves, return to deliver more buckets of blood-soaked justice.
Similar to what The Raid 2 was to the original Raid film, Chapter 2 wastes zero time dialing up the pace right from the opening credits. The sequel, picking up directly after the first film, sees John doing what he does best, as he attempts to get his beloved 1969 Ford Mustang back from Abram Tarasov, brother of Viggo from the original. You see when John Wick gets attached to something he goes all in and it would be best not to hinder that attachment, in any way, or there will be blood. Lots of blood.
Within diving too heavily into spoiler territory, the story is not only more focused but also far grander in scale, giving more attention to the assassin based underworld from the original. Keanu Reeces is again, the perfect catalyst and guide for the audience as we are taken on a journey through territories both old and new, seeing retribution spilled across New York and Rome. The emotional hook of the first film is lacking however, sure cheering for Wick to again win against insurmountable odds is great, mostly due to Reeves' stoic, straight-faced badass portrayal in just about every scene, but the gravity of the situation is less about willful revenge and more about a forced promise.
The supporting cast is stellar again, small roles given to talented actors, with Ian McShane's Winston, taking on a larger role (to my enjoyment), blurring the line between advisor and fatherly figure to John. On the other hand Riccardo Scamarcio, playing the role of the lead villain, Santino D'Antonio, a calculating and jealous brother who forces John back into the assassin game due to a "Marker", an unbreakable blood oath. Sadly D'Antonio is not as strong of a villain, when compared to the humorous, cynical and respectful Viggo from the original, played brilliantly by Michael Nyqvist. However Wick's two biggest challengers, played by Common and Ruby Rose, respectively are excellent, both of them unique in their own ways, Cassian (played by Common) is seen as more of a equal to John, and their first showdown is nothing but a gigantic western homage of the 1970s. Ares (played by Ruby Rose), is D'Antonio's primary enforcer, she is also mute but manages to convey a cheeky, playful attitude via sign language and also some damaging knife skills.
The greatest aspect of the film, just as it were in the original, is the action, and luckily it's again delivered in spades.
Mixing Hong-Kong film style gunplay and martial arts, former stuntman turned Director Chad Stahelski, helms the ultra-violent, kinetic action sequences with long takes, minimal editing and a lot of suave energy that never gets boring. Stahelski manages to mix up and escalate each fight scene, combining a hailstorm of bullets, Judo and Jujitsu takedowns, broken bones and even a trusty 2B pencil. The combat is even more impressive with thanks to the cast, you can see the hours of real life training that Reeves, Common and Rose put into the film, each actor looked natural while engaged in combat.
Overall the film manages to provide 120 minutes of pure adrenaline, John Wick: Chapter 2 may have a story that is slightly less hard-hitting than the original, but more than makes up for it with a thumping soundtrack, visceral fight scenes and a stellar cast. Here's hoping we see a third film in the not too distant future as Chapter 2 is one of the most accomplished, compelling and thrilling action films I've ever seen in quite sometime.