Keanu Reeves returns to our screens this week with John Wick: Chapter 2 the sequel to the 2014 sleeper hit John Wick. Following on a few months after the events of John Wick where we saw the titular character bring his unholy vengeance upon a hapless group of Russian mobsters John Wick: Chapter 2 brings us the next part of the Wick legend.
The plot of John Wick: Chapter 2 involves Wick (Reeves) having to cope with the repercussions of making a deal that helped him retire from his “career” all those years ago. He is blackmailed/threatened into assassinating a powerful leader of a criminal family and when he takes on this job he sets a series of events in place that will forever change the state of Wick’s world.
John Wick: Chapter 2 has the unenviable task of being the sequel to John Wick which was one of the biggest and most surprising hits of 2014. No one saw John Wick coming, and that was a part of its charm. Much like Liam Neeson’s Taken John Wick set a new standard for action films and so when a sequel was announced to John Wick audiences were worried that it would follow the same track as the Taken films. In short, each subsequent sequel would be worse than the one that proceeded it.
I can happily report however that John Wick: Chapter 2 stays true to the mesmerising charm that made John Wick so much fun and expands further on the world that was teased in its predecessor. There are still the same issues, at times the acting falters, and Reeves just can’t quite nail those moments of emotion. The supporting cast are in the same boat, Cassian is a wonderful foil to Wick who is brought to brutal life by Common, but then there is Laurence Fishburne who is cartoonish with his portrayal of The Bowery King, an underground crime lord. Plus the villain of the piece is yet another whiny rich kid who underestimates the power of Wick. It’s unfortunate as the writers seem to have written themselves into a corner because in this world there is no one greater than John Wick and to have a compelling villain you need someone who is a genuine threat to him. In John Wick: Chapter 2 it’s not the main villain Santino (Riccardo Scamarcio) who’s the threat, it’s those he employees. On that note, Ruby Rose plays Ares a mute who is the lead enforcer for Santino and she’s fascinating to watch as in each scene you’re waiting for that moment when she’ll unleash her fury and when it happens it’s a commendable payoff.
The star of John Wick: Chapter 2 once again is the action which has somehow been ramped beyond even what it was in John Wick. The level of brutality and intensity on show is something truly breathtaking and will leave audiences in awe. Make no mistake John Wick: Chapter 2 is one of the best action films of all time, the dedication to the authenticity and realism of the fight scenes in this film are award worthy. One particular scene towards the climax of the film shows off the strength of the cinematography and stunt work that the team clearly worked hard to achieve.
With an energetic score, out of this world action coupled with gorgeous cinematography John Wick: Chapter 2 is the sequel that we hoped for. Let’s hope that John Wick continues to fail at retirement and that there are more chapters in his saga.