John Wick Chapter 2 is the follow up to 2014 fantastic action film John Wick. The film returns to John Wick as he is forced back into the underground world of assassins against his will, as a crime boss who Wick owed a debt to comes looking to collect on it. The film expands greatly on the secret and mysterious criminal underworld that was introduced in the first film, and takes it even further down the fantastical route while still remaining believable in the context of the film (I’m not saying there’s magic or anything like that but it’s definitely larger than life). John Wick is just as much of a badass as before, and you expect many henchmen to be shot in the face or killed in some other fashion. To be honest there isn’t a lot to say about this film, it’s pretty much the same as the first film, just with a bigger story and action scenes, which is expected of a sequel. I left feeling very satisfied, as this was just as good as a sequel to John Wick probably could be. If you liked the first film you will like this one as well, and I loved the first John Wick and I thoroughly enjoyed the second chapter. This film stars Keanu Reeves as John Wick, with supporting roles from Ian McShane, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ruby Rose, Common, and Laurence Fishburne, and is directed by Chad Stahelski.
This film puts the same level of respect and care into its action scenes that the first film did, but on a larger scale, probably due to a bigger budget. There is a glorious absence of shaky cam and quick cuts, which permeate action films now-a-days. The fight scenes are all expertly choreographed and shot fully in camera so you can actually see the effort that has been put into all of it. There is tonnes of Gun Fu, much like the first film, but also a lot more hand to hand martial arts than before. It’s very fast and visceral and brutal, while the action is happening you are constantly watching on the edge of your seat because of the energy and care that has been put into it. Keanu Reeves does most of his own stunts and fight choreography, which allows the director to actually show his face during the fighting and so adds to the believability and enjoyment of the action. I believe Common and Ruby Rose also learnt a lot of stage martial arts and choreography as well, so the scenes with them fighting Reeves were incredible. The film really pushes the stunts to the next level, and you can tell that CGI isn’t involved for the most part, so when you’re watching people fall down stairs or be smashed into walls etc. in these long uncut takes you can tell it’s happening and it really adds to the enjoyment.
Keanu Reeves really owns the character of John Wick. He is imposing and powerful and kind of scary, so when other characters talk about how deadly Wick is you believe it even without seeing him in action. However, he also has this great reluctance about him, he doesn’t want to be part of this criminal world, and he wants a normal life but is forced back into action against his will. This reluctance is what makes him so likeable in my opinion. Whenever someone ask if “he’s back” he always relies with the same fed up expression and frustrated, reluctant “yes” which I find funny and also sympathetic. Everyone has a thing that you have to do that you’d rather not do, and John Wick’s thing is killing a bunch of disposable henchmen. Reeves plays this reluctance with great subtlety that I thing is under appreciated. Common and Ruby Rose are great rivals to Reeves. Both of their characters are strong opponents to John Wick, which is new for the franchise as before the henchmen drop like flies. I especially found Common to be a great rival to Reeves.
While I really did enjoy the plot of this film, it did feel much like the sequel you would expect. The thing that made the original John Wick so great, other than the action, was how simple and concise the story was. That film was simply about a badass avenging his dog, but it had this really creative world building as well. This film builds on that underground world more, but at the cost of the simplicity of the first film. You won’t understand the story or buy into the fictional world if you haven’t already seen the first film, and this film has a more complex story with more moving parts and characters so it didn’t have that concise feeling the first film had. I did really like the story though, it was a great route for a sequel to take and it handled it brilliantly.
John Wick Chapter 2 is a great sequel. It expands on the action, world and characters of the first film while keeping the same overall tone and style. It isn’t as good as the first film, but it is an incredibly enjoyable follow up to a film I loved. I recommend this film to anyone that liked the first film and wants to see more of what that film did so well. It is as good a sequel to John Wick that it could have ever been in my opinion. If John Wick 3 is as good as this film then this will be one of the best action trilogies ever, I’m really excited to see where the series goes from here.
P.S. there were so many moments in this film that had me feeling giddy and excited at how awesome the action scenes are. It really is so good, it’s like when you watch the raid and are in awe of the action in that film. The teenager in me can’t help loving this franchise.