Starring: Keanu Reeves, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ian McShane
Director: Chad Stahelski
Running Time: 122 mins
John Wick: Chapter 2 is an American film and the sequel to John Wick. Still sore from the death of his wife, the murder of his dog, the theft of his car, and now the destruction of his house, an exhausted John Wick is tasked with assassinating a mafia boss in Rome on the request of her brother, an Italian mob boss in New York.
Just like last time out, we’ve got a riotously entertaining and visually spectacular action thriller on our hands with John Wick: Chapter 2. Returning to the brilliantly unique pulp, neo-noir vibe of the previous film, this is a fantastically stylish sequel, full of stunning action sequence and amazing directing from start to finish. Its screenplay may be a little less simple and clear-cut as the first film, and some of the performances suffer as a result, but on the whole, this is a hugely entertaining sequel that picks up brilliantly from where the last film left off.
In fact, it’s an almost identical movie. Whilst the plot does take a couple of different routes that land John Wick in some different situations, I have to say that keeping the formula as close as possible to the last movie is one of this sequel’s best positives. It’s another revenge thriller which effectively involves Wick murdering as many evil henchmen as he can as he attempts to reach the boss level, but it’s yet another film that leaves so much room for an amazing visual experience.
There are a few elements of the film’s visual style that aren’t always as strong as the last movie. For example, Chapter 2 definitely looks a little more refined and polished, rather than the having the look of a proper indie action movie like the first film, which was a bit of a shame to see.
That said, there’s still so much to marvel at in this film, particularly when it comes to the action sequences. Apart from the fact that it feels like the volume of the gunshots has been turned up to eleven, the fight scenes in this film are once again so well choreographed, and so slickly directed, that it makes for an almost beautiful sight.
Of course, there’s still lots of bloody violence throughout, but as with the first film, the objective of the action sequences isn’t to be intensely gritty and violent, rather visually sleek and unique. With numerous bursts of thrilling action throughout, there’s so much to enjoy here, as we lead up to one of the most visually spectacular action finales I’ve ever seen, directed in such a complex and ingenious way that I was left utterly jaw-dropped.
Despite all that, I have to say that there are a few small issues with the film. Most of all, the story isn’t as simple as I felt it should be. The first film was a masterclass in being an out-and-out, no frills revenge thriller, so it was a little disappointing to see the screenplay occasionally straying into more complex territory where it wasn’t really welcome.
The sequel’s story obviously has to bring something new to the table, so it’s understandable why it’s done here, but the problem is that it leads to numerous more dialogue sequences that both extend the runtime and expose some of the film’s hidden weaknesses, namely the less-than-stellar acting talents of Keanu Reeves, and the inability to make a truly compelling or threatening story beneath the main action.
Overall, however, I loved John Wick: Chapter Two. Doing exactly what the sequel to the original needs to do, taking a unique and memorable style and largely sticking right with it, the film is massively entertaining from start to finish, and a visual marvel throughout. Yes, its story isn’t quite as sleek as the first, and that results in a few other small issues, but on the whole, this is yet another brilliant action thriller, and that’s why I’m giving it an 8.0.