Sure, Liam Neeson was badass as Bryan Mills in TAKEN. But if I had to pick an ageing action hero to save me – I’d be calling John Wick!
He may be 52 years old, but Keanu Reeves has still got it – and director Chad Stahelski is determined to show us so.
JOHN WICK CHAPTER 2 takes place directly after the events of the first flick. Having avenged his puppy(!) we’re treated to a high-octane opening sequence as Wick reclaims his beloved car. With repeated dialogue straight out of the first movie, it’s a comical start that immediately sets a more “fun” tone than it’s predecessor.
Just when we think his work is done, Wick is forced to return to the criminal underworld to repay a debt, and soon discovers an irresistible bounty is on offer to the anyone who kills him…and, surprisingly enough, there’s plenty who are crazy enough to try.
There’s no denying, JW2 has less heart than JW1. Rather than a personal story of loss and revenge, we’re looking at a man pretty much just trying to stay alive. It makes for a less emotive story, but for what it lacks in emotion they make up for tenfold in stylish action.
Much like its predecessor, JW2 utilises long, beautifully choreographed shots. Successfully showing off Reeves’ impressive combat skills, and utilising Stahelski’s strength in stunt management (Stahelski is a stuntman-turned-director. In fact, he was Reeves’ stunt double in The Matrix Trilogy). Reeves trained for three months before filming; reportedly there are only two stunts in the film he didn’t perform himself. There’s no fancy way to say it: It is so cool to watch.
They had double the budget to play with on this instalment, and they’ve put it to good use: Visually, this flick is super polished, with stunning use of light. The location shots in Italy make the most of the romantic architecture and historical sites.
There’s a tendency with sequels to try and go “bigger and better”. More often then not, it results in a jumped-up heartless display that doesn’t come close to the original’s quality. There is a slight risk of that here.
We’re certainly looking at a story that’s much larger in scale. What appeared to be a fascinating, delightfully incestuous little underworld syndicate in JW1, now seems to be an ever-spreading organisation with a powerful global presence. It boarders on absurd, but can be overlooked. In all the spectacle, the new “villains” don’t achieve much presence either – it’s really just John Wick kicking arse.
JOHN WICK CHAPTER 2 is a stylish, highly entertaining extension on chapter 1. There are plenty of warm and fuzzy nods to the first film – we even get to see the legendary John Wick pencil trick in action! There is little character development, and the plot is fairly one-dimensional. However, the action sequences are awesome and you’re left hanging for chapter 3.
JOHN WICK CHAPTER 2 – I rate it 8/10