John Wick: Chapter 2
John Wick: Chapter 2 is everything one would want in a sequel -- more action, stronger performances and an elevated story that expands on the first film's mythology.
Chad Stahelski, David Leitch, Derek Kolstad and Keanu Reeves all helped make John Wick an under-the-radar bad ass action surprise, bursting with bullets, a unique fighting style and a worthwhile mythos based on the titular character. Now, John Wick: Chapter 2 raises the stakes even higher, bringing us more well-shot action sequences, a deeper look at the assassin underworld and another reliable performance by star Keanu Reeves.
The events of John Wick have happened. Nothing can change the fact that Mr. Wick (Keanu Reeves) has lost everything, including his wife, his dog and his car. Now, he’s lost even more, which has forced him once again to re-enter the assassin game as he looks to repay an old favor and somehow get out alive.
John Wick: Chapter 2 is one of the most deserving sequels of all-time. Director Chad Stahelski and his accomplice David Leitch created an incredibly unique action experience with John Wick. Thanks partially to the writing of Derek Koldstad and the on-screen acting of Keanu Reeves.
They did this by brilliantly blending well-chroeographed hand-to-hand combat with gunplay that’s in-your-face and non-stop. They enhanced this trait by pulling the camera back and shooting the film’s action sequences with refrained editing and a strong sense of spacial awareness.
John Wick: Chapter 2 essentially brings more of that well-crafted action to the big screen, only this time it widens its gaze and becomes a somewhat globe-trotting sequel that beefs up the action and spectacle, while also diving deeper into the seedy assassin world that writer Derek Kolstad created in the first film.
Now, we find our titular bad ass in Rome, stocking up on an arsenal of weaponry and getting custom-made bullet-proof suits tailored to his needs. He’s also a map expert, plotting his next move carefully and with just the right amount of calculation.
I won’t dig into the film’s meatier parts, but John Wick: Chapter 2 is essentially Wick with the chips stacked and no more lifelines. He gets pulled into a darker part of his past and he must do some unlikable things to make things “right” and even then; he’s got the world against him and nothing but a gun in his hand and a few remaining allies to help ease the burden.
This time around, Chad Stahelski takes sole director’s credit, with David Leitch‘s name simply listed as a producer. Not much difference can be seen from this fact, which makes me wonder if the two simply work very closely together or if Chad was always the sole director and David just offered his expert advice?
And let me tell you, Chad Stahelski‘s direction is brutal and marvelous, heightening the headshots and knife fights from the first film, while also adding a bit of artistry to the shots and sequences. Chapter 2 finds itself in various parts of the globe, which means more style and scope blended in with the already bad ass action.
Stahelski wisely captures a handful of memorable action sequences, from the film’s opening warehouse brawl all the way up until the “mirror room” finale. There’s just so much creativity involved in not just the action, but the location.
Derek Kolstad‘s writing also benefits from the sequel, allowing us to dive even deeper into the criminal assassin underworld that Wick was once apart of. New rules and characters are introduced, as well as a better grasp at just how large this “business” really is.
Keanu Reeves is still the star. Laurence Fishburne, Ian McShane and John Leguizamo pop up for their respective cameos, plus Riccardo Scamarcio is introduced as the film’s main bad guy, but don’t let that attract you away from the focus on Reeves’ character.
The first film gave us a vulnerable and pissed of John Wick, while the second film gives us a colder and more focused Wick. This time, Wick is out against his will and unwillingly pushed back into the world that he just barely got away from. Reeves shows us this rage by throwing punch after kick in an almost tired, yet still energetic way. You can tell that Wick is seasoned by his age and years in the “service”, yet you never question his focus or ability because of how many bodies he leaves destroyed behind him.
John Wick: Chapter 2 is slightly longer than the first film and does take 20 or so minutes to get going, but once it starts up it never stops. It becomes action sequence after action sequence, with each one topping the previous in both style and sophistication. The film leaves things in an absolutely awesome place, which makes me hope this one does well enough to warrant a proper conclusion to this possible trilogy.
It’s very rare that sequels deliver the goods, especially when you’re the sequel of the already bad ass John Wick, but Chapter 2 definitely delivers. It’s just as inventive as the first film, only heightened where needed to help move the character and his story forward. Keanu Reeves is only getting better with age, while director Chad Stahelski has proven twice now that he’s one of the best action directors working in the field today.