By Quentin Basnaw
Where to begin? John Wick: Chapter 2 follows on the heels of its surprisingly good predecessor, John Wick, to deliver beautifully choreographed action, awesome locations, an expansion of the interesting world’s mythos, and of course, give us more of Keanu Reeves being… well, Keanu Reeves. I mean this all in the best way possible because, once again, they’ve given us a good action movie that stands out among the sea of sub-par, straightforward action movies that have been coming out in recent years.
In this sequel, John Wick gets a bounty placed on his head after the events of the first film. John Wick must avoid other assassins while going to track down the originator of the bounty. That’s the main plot, but the film takes its sweet time getting to this point. That is only true narrative fault I have with the film. The rest is executed well, introducing us to new characters. This includes Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix) as an old associate of John Wick’s. The new players do their jobs well and help expand the world that was set up well in the first film.
John Wick: Chapter 2 is best described as a perfect video game movie; that is, it functions perfectly as an above average video game, in movie format. This is because, once again, there is a genuine effort to give Keanu Reeves scenes to flesh out John Wick’s behavior and to flesh out the world in which the assassins go about their lives. These kinds of scenes would equate to cutscenes in a video game, but in the case of John Wick: Chapter 2, these are well done cutscenes that give us more than just the next action filled level that John Wick would have to shoot through.
Speaking of, the “levels” that John Wick encounters are all memorable, and even breathtaking at times. For example, there’s (thankfully) no scene where Keanu Reeves flies into the air like superman from one burning helicopter to another helicopter, while saving an innocent baby, then taking that innocent baby to a good orphanage. . . etc. The action set pieces are all “grounded” in the sense that they are not too over the top. They are visually stimulating and just the right amount of over the top. Instead of the burning helicopters scenario, we get a cool museum exhibit with tons of mirrors that the bad guys and John Wick have to navigate. Another awesome and tense moment takes place on a crowded subway train, as John Wick and his opponent slowly move towards one another each time the train stops.
When it comes to the action, Chapter 2 has definitely amped it up in two ways. They go for even more in-camera stunts, which look incredible, and up the gore from the last film. I am a fan of the former option, but not the latter. The gore never gets slasher film-level unbearable, but it is a noticeable step up from the last film, which didn’t shy away from the bloody aspects of people dying, but at least had the decency to only show a little bit of it. In Chapter 2, I’m pretty sure brain matter is shown stuck to a pencil at one point.
Overall, John Wick: Chapter 2 is more of the same, building off of the first movie in all the right ways. I just wish the violence had been the same quality, where it was “just enough” for me to not be that upset when I saw bad people get taken out. If you you’re looking for an adrenaline filled joy ride, with just enough extra story to make it better than most films, check this one out! It’s got to be better than Fifty Shades Darker, right?