“John Wick: Chapter 2” is directed by Chad Stahelski and stars Keanu Reeves, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ian McShane, and Common. The film is the sequel to the surprise 2014 hit, “John Wick”, and is about Mr. Wick being forced out of retirement after he is forced to repay his debts to a friend.
Three years ago, I was blown away by what Stahelski and Reeves created with “John Wick”, as it featured some of the most visceral, well-shot action I had seen in recent memory. With that being said, I was very excited to see this movie, but also scared that a lesser sequel could possibly tarnish the track record of such a beautifully made original film.
For how phenomenal the action was in the original, the action sequences in “Chapter 2” are just as remarkable, possibly even better. Chad Stahelski and cinematographer Dan Laustsen show incredible talent with the action scenes here, as they are brilliantly choreographed and stunningly shot, with the camera never shying away from the violence, but in fact focusing in on it gorgeously. The sets used in this movie allow for a vast display of lights and colors, and all of these combined with some of the purest, intense action you will see, and the fighting alone already made “John Wick: Chapter 2” worth the ticket.
Keanu Reeves continues to shine in the titular role in this movie, as this is quite honestly the role he was made to play, even with him being so great in 90s films like “Speed” and “The Matrix”. I love classic Keanu, but Reeves in these movies is something special, as he absolutely nails everything about the character of John Wick. From his subtle humor to the terror he strikes in everyone around him, all of it is terrifically portrayed by Reeves, but it is the action that amazes me the most. Even at 52, Reeves is pulling off some of the most impressive action sequences in years, and seeing him kick all the ass in the world is entertainment at its finest.
The storyline is just enough where I can follow what is going on and why, and for the most part it also isn’t over the top so much that it takes away from the action. Each character has motives that are justified considering the personas, and that is enough for me to be on board with everything that takes place in the film.
As with the 2014 original, the universe that is created through these movies is something that I truly love and respect, and it makes the film even more unique from other action films. The specific rules and ways of the world in these movies are excellently done so that I get sucked in, while they also assist with understanding everything going on around the story.
I already talked about the action, but let me talk about the action again because this film makes it the true definition of art. The use of violence to show the real talents of the characters is something that puts “Chapter 2” apart from many action films before it. The way Reeves plays the lead throughout the action scenes tells so much about his past that didn’t need to be spelled out, and the style in which extreme violence is used throughout this movie consistently blew me away with each new scene.
After an incredible opening sequence, there’s a lull where the story is being developed, and while I know that is certainly a necessary component, this gap in action feels overly long. It’s not terribly boring, but I found myself wanting the film to get on with it, as the story could have truthfully been set up in fifteen minutes, especially when the runtime of this movie is over two hours long.
While he is adorable and I loved the times he was there, I did not think that the dog was all that necessary to the film this time around. Like I said, the dog itself is lovely, but I wish that he eventually got a purpose within the story, but that time never came, and he ended up just being there for the cuteness factor.
There are a few moments in the story where this world became a bit far-fetched, and the rules of their universe got a little muddy. It didn’t bother me all that much, but I did have to be a little forgiving in order to buy what was going on at a couple points towards the end.
“John Wick: Chapter 2” is everything that I could have ever wanted from this sequel and more, as this more than lives up to its predecessor. There are some of the best action moments you will ever see here, as well as a fantastic lead performance, gorgeous cinematography, and a well-made universe that meshes it all together. There is a hint of comedy that is effective, and the end of this film, while satisfying, also has me dying for more, so here’s hoping that we’ll get more. “Chapter 2” is an action sequel done right, and is a blast of a time from start to finish.
Get tickets and showtimes for “John Wick: Chapter 2” here (in theaters 2/10)
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