John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017) – Review

Director: Chad Stahelski
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ian McShane, Ruby Rose, Common, Clauda Gerini, Lance Reddick, Laurence Fishburne, John Leguizamo

The Overview
After returning to the criminal underworld to repay a debt, John Wick discovers that a large bounty has been put on his life. (Source: IMDb)

The Good
John Wick (2014) proved to be a real surprise hit, putting its star Keanu Reeves back on the action movie map, and proving that an action film could be brutal, brilliant, and not outstay its welcome. With a simple revenge plot, and actions that spoke far louder than words, it was inevitable that it would lead to some sort of sequel (and franchise), and now here we are, with John Wick: Chapter 2. New dog, but same old badass John Wick is here to kick ass and take names, and boy does he!

One of the real highlights of the first film was the outstanding fight choreography, and this is thankfully something which has carried over to Chapter 2. The fight scenes are absolutely stunning, exceptionally well choreographed, brutal, bombastic and brilliant. Many action movies have awesome fight scenes, but John Wick is also able to stand out for the fact that they are beautifully shot, gratuitous in places sure, but never so in your face that they are unpleasant to watch. They are as much about the locations and the way they are filmed, as they are about the kicks, punches, stabs and head-shots! There are some beautifully staged sequences in the catacombs underneath Rome, and a gorgeous, garish and gritty showdown in a hall of mirrors. The effective use of lighting and scenery stops John Wick from being anything but generic, and it is absolutely glorious to watch.

The action kicks off right from the start, and it rarely relents, but it is utterly thrilling, exciting, and breath-taking to watch. It is brutal as hell, perhaps even more brutal than the first film! You’ll lose count of how many glorious head-shots there are, plus some nifty knife action, a lot of broken bones and snapping of limbs, plus an unforgettable scene involving a pencil – you have been warned!

Criticise his acting all you want, but if there is one thing Keanu Reeves does well, it is dark and brooding, and thankfully this is all he needs to be as the eponymous Wick. He continues to be incredibly convincing and badass, and without spoiling too much then you have every reason to be absolutely excited for the next installment of this awesome franchise.

The Bad
The supporting cast are all pretty average, but this is and will always be Reeves/Wick’s film so this isn’t too much of a criticism. When seemingly most of the cast are pretty dispensable, they don’t really need to make too much of an impact. They’re punchbag fodder for Wick, and I am kind of okay with this!

Part of what made the first film so great was its relatively short run-time of only just over 90 minutes. It packed so much action into a short amount of time, and whilst it is perhaps good for your nerves that this sequel has a bit more breathing room, it does feel a little flabby in places. It could have lost about 20 minutes in the run-time somewhere, although it is also difficult to think about what exactly could be removed in order to do this.

The Verdict
I saw this movie and you should too. WOW basically! John Wick: Chapter 2 is one of the most exciting and exhilarating cinema experiences I’ve had in a while; rarely are action films this fun, frenetic, and yet with such care and attention to detail in the fight choreography and the aesthetics. Keanu Reeves once again does an excellent job of bringing the enigmatic Wick to life, and it will be really interesting to see where the story goes from here. Roll on Chapter 3!

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