John Wick: Chapter 2 Review
Director: Chad Stahelski.
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ian McShane, Ruby Rose, Common, Laurence Fishburne, Lance Reddick, Claudia Gerini, John Leguizamo, Bridget Moynahan, David Patrick Kelly, Franco Nero, Peter Serafinowicz, Peter Stormare, Wass Stevens.
It's both interesting and great to see the distribution companies have got it right this time round, however, their work was pretty much done for them off the back of the first film. Many people catching up on stream services after hearing the hype from those who were lucky enough, like myself, to watch it on the big screen when it was eventually released, which was some six months after the official date in the US and more than that since the trailers were circulating. It unfortunately got forgotten and very few people this side of the pond got to see it due to it's limited and badly timed promoted release. It seemed only people in the know knew to watch the first John Wick, myself being one a of very small few in my screening back in April 2015. It crossed the $14million mark at it's opening weekend in the states in October 2014, with Chapter Two more than doubling that, proving my point. (You can read my review of the first John Wick here)
Now, fast forward to this year, John Wick has become one of the most anticipated action films of 2017, next to Logan, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 and Ghost In The Shell. I walked into a packed screening on Valentine's night, couples galore, making me assume the people are treating their significant other to an action-packed night out; who doesn't dig John Wick being a man of a broken heart and of course the humble Keanu Reeves behind the myth. Either way, I need to find myself one of those ladies who totally adores both.
The same team gladly returns with Keanu Reeves' regular stunt double, Chad Stahelski again at the helm, with Chapter 3 already in the pipeline and a possible Highlander reboot. Familiar characters reappear, some with larger roles and some new additions. EvenTyler Bates repeats the same score giving Wick an instant recognisable theme. The action screen just can't get enough of Ruby Rose, who says less than John Wick does, but this is her third outing this year alone. Not a bad thing. Though I'm not entirely convinced of Laurence Fishburne's role, apart from the obvious nod to The Matrix.
It opens with an almost parodical and comical sequence that I suppose fills a plot hole for those who haven't seen the first one. It shows that among other things previously mentioned in the first film, John Wick is also a man of principle, brutal, unforgivable vengeance and a man of very few words.
It's five days later and Winston's prophesy of him getting dragged back into the bloody underworld if he so much as dips a pinkie back into the pond, comes true; being bound to a blood oath that dampers any retirement plans Wick had for the future. He's quickly forced into service and the mythology of this world deepens. We learn a little more about the people above and beyond without it embellishing too much on itself. As expected, The Continental is a big deal, acting as a neutral sanctuary, placing, what I think is Ian McShane's coolest role, Winston, to almost Godlike status. The Continental reminds me of those inns or villages you find in role playing games where everyone knows everyone, is knowledgeable and is an excellent port to replenish or trade any goods needed to continue your quest. Each trader and craftsman having specialist skills and paraphernalia, like Peter Serafinowicz's sommelier for example. These are the people you go to when you need something special, something very particular, to go well with an heavily armoured evening dinner suit. When in Rome...
I adore the story's chivalry, the politeness and respect everyone has, even between mortal enemies. But this time, not everyone is afraid of Wick, even those who are aware of his reputation. He's clearly not having a good week with the upped ante and wannabe assassins popping out at every corner. The rest of them are clearly stupid and messing with the wrong man to just become Wick-fodder.
The stunts and action sequences are amazing, actually exceeding its predecessor. Gun nuts are going to love this film giving the tools of the trade a lot of detail and respect this time round thanks to the sommelier. Stahelski again shows his technical talent and expertise as a stuntman with superb stunt driving and mind blowing choreography that is like a John Woo movie that has just downed a case of RedBull. Though it's not exactly graceful, but that only adds to the credibility, making past one-man-armies like John Rambo and John Matrix actual being conceivable. His precision shows how one might actually be able to dodge bullets, perform countless head shots and reload whilst in the midst of Krav Maga.
Comparable to the first? Hints a lot at the previous, to a level that makes you think it's going to be a repeat. But we've already had the introduction of the character so it's fair to say, this certainly has more bullets fired with a death toll in the hundreds. There's more action over all, to the level on it being full on, very much like the first film but this time on a heavy does of amphetamines. There's so many, it's hard to figure the body count, let alone the headshots. Even though they basically repeat the same formula and the first film's mechanics, they still manage to improve on it, bringing a sinister grin to many fans.
This one ends as the first the one should have maybe, but has he gone too far this time, crossing that respectful line which leaves you always wanting more. But do we? Do we want to see a third and forth and maybe even a fifth? Am I going to be lynched by Wick fans solely for thinking it could suffer the same fate as the many other multi-film franchises? Surely there'll be no one left to kill! And I was actually starting to expect everyone to start turning into Agent Smiths.
It's actually inspiring, not in a bad way, but, I'll come back to the that "but" in a moment. I want to be like him, quick, nimble, unforgivingly brutal. I would love to be able to perform such feats with confidence and guile just like John Wick, but that will never happen, and thus, going back to my previous "but", it impulses me to play GTA online and dress my Sabre Turbo like his 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle.
Just when you wonder, how are they're going to top the first film? They do exactly that and go beyond most expectations by being more stylish, ultra-cool, more vibrant, loaded with intertextuality and of course, even more violence. It's a must of all action fans, and I'm sure fans of John Wick will not be disappointed. It's a near perfect sequel that could actually be better than the first. Believe the hype.
Running Time: 10
The Cast: 8
Job Description: 10
The Extra Bonus Point: 10 for being a near perfect sequel stepping up the ante.
Would I buy the Blu-ray?: oh hell yes!
#ChadStahelski #KeanuReeves #IanMcShane #RiccardoScamarcio #LaurenceFishburne #RubyRose #Common #LanceReddick #JohnLeguizamo #BridgetMoynahan #DavidKellyPatrick #PeterSerafinowicz #TylerBates #PeterStormare #WassStevens #ClaudiaGerini #FrancoNero