John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)9:20 AM
This review contains Spoilers
John Wick: Chapter 2 is directed by Chad Stahelski (John Wick) and stars Keanu Reeves (The Matrix, Speed), Riccardo Scamarcio (Loose Cannons, Burnt), Ian McShane (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Kung Fu Panda), Ruby Rose (xXx: Return of Xander Cage, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter) and Common (Suicide Squad, Selma). "After returning to the criminal underworld to repay a debt, John Wick discovers that a large bounty has been put on his life". John Wick was a sleeper hit back in 2014 and really got a following - will John Wick: Chapter 2 be the sequel these fans want or will it be like Jack Reacher 2 - nobody really wanted it...?
Similarly to when I went out of my way to watch the first Trainspotting before seeing the second, I made sure to see John Wick before my visit to the cinema to the sequel. I really enjoyed the original - up until the ending which I wasn't that satisfied with. However, I think in most areas, Chapter 2 is just as good as the first but thankfully the ending is much better - and actually hints at a Chapter 3 - I can comfortably say that Chapter 2 manages to edge out the first instalment and I would recommend you see both films.
What made the first John Wick so good for me were the action sequences - they were very violent, very fast paced but they all also had a unique spin on them. I think Chapter 2 managed to maintain the entertaining, fast-paced violent action in an original way. I would actually compare this film to Deadpool - another film that had original and violent action sequences. A running joke of the first film and this one is the story that John Wick once killed men with a pencil - in Chapter 2, we actually get to see Wick show off his pencil skills - the scene was very violent and very gruesome but all the more entertaining - who knew a pencil could be so painful? Another memorable scene from the first film was the fight in the nightclub - John Wick 2 builds on this by having a similarly edited action sequence in a concert but there are also other many great settings such as an underground train and a mirror maze. The visuals in the mirror maze were amazing - the film looked so cool. There was a cool blue tint on the scene and I just thought the action sequence that took place here was done very well. The action sequences were also easy to follow - they weren't nauseating like in Jason Bourne or Resident Evil: The Final Chapter - I was really entertained throughout this film and the action alone is worth paying to see. There is also quite a discomforting scene that involves a suicide - it was pretty painful to watch.
The acting in this film is also pretty strong. I do have to say, Keanu Reeves doesn't really have to say much so I can't comment on whether he is an good actor in general but he is definitely a brilliant action star. I'm pretty sure he does a lot of the stunts himself like Cruise in Mission: Impossible. Reeves comes across as ruthless, violence, fearsome but consistently likeable. I also found myself slightly impressed by Ruby Rose in this film...finally! Even though the whole sign language thing to do with her character wasn't really too clear and I don't think she did it convincingly, I do think she was convincing with the action sequences - especially the final one...until she is about to die that is. I was even impressed by Common who was also very good at the action - the casting team definitely knew the people to cast as I don't think anyone was bad. This is still definitely Reeves' show and this character is his return to form for a reason.
What many loved about the first instalment is that is hinted at a bigger picture and John Wick: Chapter 2 definitely does have some good world-building and is definitely a warranted sequel. All of the secret organisations were pretty cool - especially when the contract was sent out about Wick and you got to see just how many people were in on this hitman kind of thing - it was pretty spooky to think anyone could be anything. The story this time was a little more fleshed out as well - last time, I thought it was understandable that Wick was upset about his dog due to the meaning behind it but I thought he did take it a bit far. However, this time, the first part is him completing a marker that he has to carry out and then the second half is the realistic consequences of what he has just done. I also liked the set up for the third film that I hope we get to see.
John Wick: Chapter 2 is easily one of the strongest films that has been released so far this year. It is a perfect sequel to a strong predecessor and somehow manages to be better. Keanu Reeves is brilliant as Wick and showcases just how great of an action star he is. Blacklisted Ruby Rose and Common also prove that they do have some talent and that it's just the right directors and roles that bring it out of them. The action sequences are stellar - they look cool and stylish, they are inventive and original, they are violent but they are also highly entertaining. We get a much better glimpse of the John Wick universe. My only request for next time is maybe some stronger character development. I can't wait to see what's next for John Wick. A brilliant film.
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