John Wick Chapter 2 Review: Everything You Want and More
It is no secret that Hollywood is a little sequel and franchise happy at the moment. Most studios are leaving no stone unturned in the search for their next franchise, and many are trying desperately to cobble together some kind of cinematic universe in order to really try and cash in. John Wick: Chapter 2 is the latest entry in what looks to be a budding and extremely promising franchise, but prior to 2014, nobody would have suspected a Keanu Reeves action flick to be such a hit. That is where we are, and perhaps not since Die Hard have we come across an action series so deserving of a continued storyline. John Wick: Chapter 2 is everything audiences loved about the first John Wick, but it never feels stale or recycled. It's damn near perfect.
Lionsgate's John Wick: Chapter 2 once again follows legendary hitman John Wick (Keanu Reeves) as he tries to put his life together and stay out of the killing game. Unfortunately for him, a figure from his past comes knocking and is attempting to collect on an old debt, which brings John Wick right back into the world he is desperately wanting to leave behind. Now, whether he likes it or not, he's back in the business of killing and business is very, very good.
John Wick was not a movie that smelled like a franchise. Lionsgate barely even promoted it ahead of its release back in 2014. But once audiences got a taste, they wanted more. They needed more. Lionsgate was kind enough to give it to us. Luckily, they were smart enough to bring back director Chad Stahelski for John Wick 2, who co-directed the first entry with David Leitch. No disrespect to Mr. Leitch, but Chad Stahelski didn't seem to miss a beat flying solo. The action in John Wick and John Wick: Chapter 2 is almost jarring, given its unrelenting intensity, and it is undeniably well executed. It is probably hard for anyone who watched the first movie to imagine things improving any, but it is certainly arguable that somehow, Chad Stahelski kicked it up a notch. His many years of experience working as a stunt coordinator and performer really show.
Movie sequels are a tricky thing. They are sort of like a band's second album. Do you give the audience more of the same? Or do you try and reinvent the wheel? John Wick: Chapter 2 is, and I say this in the best possible way, a lot more of the same. There are tons and tons of bullets, bodies and great lines to go around. Sure, there are little differences and a new story, or a continuation of the story, rather. It is more than enough to make it feel as though we aren't watching the same movie over again. John Wick: Chapter 2 does not fall into the same trap that movies like Taken 2 do. A lot of that has to do with the decision to surround all of this chaos with intrigue. Things like the Continental Hotel and this odd set of conduct that these hit men (and women) must follow are truly fascinating. Every character, even the guy who makes the suits, is someone you want to know more about, but the filmmakers cleverly leave you wanting more in that way. Those elements of the move are caked in nuance. There is a mystery to it. An intrigue. It provides a balance that few action movies ever achieve. It is brilliant and even after two full movies with a higher body count than anyone can fathom, the audience is somehow left wanting more. It defies logic.
Prior to John Wick, it had been awhile since Keanu Reeves had really broken out in a role that made him feel like the bonafide movie star he is. At times, it is easy to write him off as a one dimensional guy, but it is clear after watching John Wick: Chapter 2 that this franchise simply wouldn't be the same without him. He brings an odd charisma to the role that you can't quite put your finger on. He is so clearly dedicated that it is impossible not to admire. Sure, he still has that classic "Keanu" line delivery, but that is part of the charm. It really works. He is John Wick.
There are several returning cast members that deliver the goods in John Wick: Chapter 2, such as John Leguizamo and Lance Riddick, but once again, it is Ian McShane who steals every scene he is in. Something about this guy who we all know is a complete badass just hanging out and managing this bizarre hotel for hit men is so endlessly fascinating. Much like in the first John Wick, we learn a lot about Winston but at the same time, we have a lot more questions than we have answers, which is way more awesome than it is frustrating. The new additions to the cast are all welcome and fit into this world perfectly. Ruby Rose is actually the stand out, even though she doesn't actually have any dialogue in the movie. Common is also great for his part and he seems like a guy who probably doesn't get enough credit for being a pretty damn good actor when he shows up in a movie. The little Matrix reunion we get with Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne is also great, but best save that for when you see the movie. Everything and everyone in this movie syncs up like a very well-oiled machine.
With John Wick: Chapter 2 it is incredibly simple. If you liked the first John Wick, you should be absolutely delighted with this sequel. If you haven't seen John Wick, this movie could oddly stand on its own pretty well, but you will definitely get more out of John Wick: Chapter 2 if you have seen the first movie. Also, there is a new dog, and let's just say things pan out a little better on that front than they did last time. Truly, John Wick: Chapter 2 may not be a perfect movie when examined under the most intense forms of scrutiny that exist in the world of film criticism, but it is probably a perfect sequel and that is a rare thing in the world of action movies.