The first John Wick film was a nice surprise to find within the modern state of action films in Hollywood being dulled down by an overtly serious approach to their drama and with a directorial style that feels so aware of the sort of ridiculousness coming along the ride, it felt all the more joyful. John Wick: Chapter 2 is no different, however, for as a sequel it certainly is a perfectly adequate follow-up to a wonderful throwback to what we loved most when we watched action films. In some sense it does exactly what the first film already did but it still carries the appeal with such ease and provides only what could ever be most expected of this sort of experience, a pure definition of fun all around.
John Wick: Chapter 2 takes place quickly after the events of the first film and now our titular hitman is on the run as a bounty has been placed upon him by the Italian crime lord Santino D’Antonio. What always stood out to me about the first John Wick film was that it had a great sense of world building when it came to the sorts of environments in which Keanu Reeves would ever go ahead to let out his own antics as an action movie star and under Stahelski’s vision this sort of universe is perfect for him to go all out. As the saga continues, the bloodshed only grows even more as the Boogeyman’s forces are still being reckoned with. John Wick: Chapter 2 expands this world even further and even if it still limits its range in terms of action, that’s not to say it doesn’t repeat the same sort of joy the first created while adding its own spin.
As expected from the first, what one can expect could go from beautiful action choreography to the self-awareness present within the manner to which it moves, John Wick: Chapter 2 indeed manages to carry so much of what it is that can be remembered about the first film that made it so distinctive. Had I been to go about with what more I can praise about what John Wick: Chapter 2 manages to recreate so perfectly out of the first film, I would be left here writing up the exact same piece that I treated the first film with, but it would not be worth ignoring the sort of joy it creates that forms an all around wonderful experience. Where Chad Stahelski manages to head home going solo, however, we look into a different world with similar characters coming about.
Yet although John Wick: Chapter 2 seems to have no trouble living in that same glory to which its predecessor had been living within, it is not impervious to some of the same flaws that were prevalent in said film. There are moments of melodrama to come along, but they rarely ever have enough time to breathe given how quickly they come by. That’s not to say the abundance of action sequences is a bad thing especially under the beautiful choreography, but sometimes it seems development is rare for we are presented motif after motif, oftentimes without an end. Certain moments are shown to have been approached with a greater sense of heart compared to the preceding film’s abundance of action for we get to see John Wick forced back into his own life as a hitman under this glory but Keanu Reeves does his very best to give a sort of character like this the life that it should carry all throughout.
But that’s not to say a glorious Matrix reunion has come abound, for that’s the best of what the John Wick movies have been able to offer. The first being a loving throwback to gun fu action films and now under a similar belt, but with a greater sense of world building: allowing only for a perfectly fitting visual style to come along. Whether it be the set pieces upon Wick’s travels to Italy where he first meets up with Common’s character or the cityscape of New York City as the climactic action sequences are set to take place, everything seems to work in order to capture a sense of glory in some way or another and it always feels pleasing. The best case scenario that would ever come about would be in the film’s final action sequence, where Wick finds himself in a hall of mirrors being chased down by the film’s antagonists: showcasing some of the very best blends of action and suspense to come from Hollywood in the current decade.
John Wick: Chapter 2 hits in the exact same manner to which the first one does, living inside of glory from start to finish and exceeding what could have been expected of its rather simplistic premise. One can go ahead to praise it for the same reasons they can the predecessor, but on its own it still finds itself a pleasing ride when it comes down to how it blends action and suspense: thanks to the assured nature of Chad Stahelski’s direction and Keanu Reeves’s performance. It still could use a bit of work within its emotional department for this was one amongst a few flaws that plagued the first film, but the self-awareness for the ridiculousness of the nature that arises from these sorts of action films makes for a fun watch altogether.
Watch the trailer right here.
All images via Summit Entertainment.
Directed by Chad Stahelski
Screenplay by Derek Kolstad, based on his characters
Produced by Basil Iwanyk, Erica Lee
Starring Keanu Reeves, Common, Laurence Fishburne, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ruby Rose, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane
Release Year: 2017
Running Time: 122 minutes