'John Wick: Chapter 2' movie review: Keanu Reeves-starrer offers consistently great action
In a world infested with reboots, sequels, prequels and threequels serving more as cash grabs than actual cinema, the final scene of 2015’s John Wick made audience members feel an emotion they had forgotten: the need for a sequel.
Sure enough, we now have a sequel in theaters and not surprisingly it’s every bit as entertaining as the first movie. Titled Chapter 2, this, much like the previous film, is lean, mean and stripped away from generic blockbuster thrills with a steady stream of consistently great action. This is the kind movie that warrants a full-blown franchise, and offers audiences tired of clichéd action something new to gawk at and cheer. And Keanu Reeves as the titular Wick, more than a decade after playing Neo in the Matrix films has well and truly created yet another cult classic badass cinematic character.
The best way to enjoy John Wick: Chapter 2 is to not know anything about the plot. If you’ve seen the first film you’ll realise that the story kind of treads into the Death Wish style B-movie territory. Someone had killed Wick’s dog in Chapter 1 and he exacted revenge against the perpetrator — you can expect something not quite as tongue in cheek in the sequel, but still pretty cheesy as the reason for Wick for getting back into the game of kicking people in the gonads and then shooting them in the head.
What is more important is that, for the lack of a better way to describe the proceedings of the plot, a lot of asses are kicked. If you enjoyed the beautifully choreographed long takes of Reeves shooting, stabbing and punching people in the first film, you can expect all of those things executed at three notches higher level in this movie.
As icing on a cake Laurence Fishburne makes an appearance in the film and anyone who has dug his previous collaboration with Reeves is in for a grand time. Wick’s denouement regarding his dead wife plays like an afterthought that doubles as a brief stab into the enigmatic character’s insight, but if you’re willing to ignore some of the emotional stuff there’s a ton of wit and also a severely badass Ruby Rose to keep things dialed up to ten. The only minor gripe is that the finale isn’t nearly as interesting as some of the actioney bits in the beginning and the middle so some hardened action buffs might feel desensitised to the blitzkrieg by the time the film ends.
Along with Reeves the big star of the film is returning director Chad Stahelski who lathers the stunt sequences with intricately designed moves of ass kickery backed up with some seriously stunning cinematography. There’s heightened mood in each dramatic or action scene. For an action movie buff Chapter 2 feels like watching La La Land but with better choreography and dedication from the lead star. Stahelski has been responsible for action choreography in dozens of classic films including the Matrix trilogy, so watching the mayhem careen across the screen in the film is witnessing a ridiculously experienced master at the very top of his game. The wait for Chapter 3 has already begun, but it would be interesting to see what new action property the auteur can come up with.