Every once in a while a movie comes along that sack-whacks the film industry and shouts ‘this is how you do it’. John Wick was that movie. It was a sleeper hit that had garnered quite the cult following and quite the thirst for a sequel. Enter John Wick: Chapter 2; the aptly named direct follow up that can’t be arsed with all those fancy sub-headings like ‘Judgement Day’ or ‘Age of James Spader’. Ain’t nobody got time for that! So does this no-nonsense-named sequel live up to the majesty of the first John Wick? Or has this series fizzled out?
Just ask him to sign your Wyld Stallyns t-shirt. I double dare you.
John Wick: Chapter 2 is directed by Chad Stahelski (John Wick) and stars Keanu Reeves (The Matrix) reprising his role as super assassin (and pencil-murder extraordinaire) John Wick. When we last saw John he’d just exacted sweet, sweet revenge upon a mob boss and his puppy murdering son, and was finally returning home to live a normal life; but it’s never that simple. Taking place immediately after the first film, Chapter 2 sees someone blow up John’s house- complete with ‘burning picture of dead wife.’ As you can tell, it’s never a great idea to burn down a super assassin’s house. Like 1000 Liam Neeson’s combined, John will find you, and he will kill you.
And so begins John Wick: Chapter 2, and consequently, so begins the best action movie of the year.
Oh that’s right, I’m calling it. This won’t be topped.
John Wick was one badass action movie and a refreshing change from what we were so used to seeing. It was frenetic, visceral and punchy. The stunts were incredible (it was also directed by a famed stuntman), the choreography jaw dropping and the acting was top-notch too. But more than that, John Wick was constantly entertaining. Sounds pretty perfect, right? That’s because it is. Now take that and double the action and you have John Wick: Chapter 2. John Wick 2 doesn’t just kick the action into the next gear, it rips the gear shift out and stabs people to death with it. In Chapter 2 we see even more of the stunt work and gunplay that made John Wick great, and here it’s bigger and better. From literal roomfuls of people being gunned down with expert precision to intense one on one knife fights, John Wick: Chapter 2 makes its predecessor look like easy mode.
Check out this scene from the first John Wick. Now times this by 100. *Warning graphic content etc. yadda yadda*
Speaking of that crazy action, let’s talk about Keanu Reeves. I’m convinced that next to Tom Cruise, Keanu Reeves is the biggest badass in Hollywood. Both these men are dedicated to their work on screen, and to just giving an audience a great time. Many discovered him in The Matrix trilogy, but in John Wick 2 Keanu Reeves is a whole other beast. Where the ante was raised in John Wick, Keanu jumps clear over his benchmark in Chapter 2, giving a fantastic performance both when he is and isn’t kicking the crap out of people. John Wick returns as the same complex man with a haunted past, but here Keanu has more room to move as we explore more of Wick’s shady world. Keanu is compelling even while saying lines that would be cheesy in any other movie; he holds your attention from beginning to end. With or without a fully loaded pistol to your head.
Introducing Abercrombie and Fitch’s ‘hitman line’. Gun not included.
One of my favourite parts of the first John Wick, Mr. Lovejoy himself – Ian McShane- returns to his role as Winston; manager of the assassin hotel ‘The Continental’. McShane is brilliant as always, striking the line between debonair and deadly as a character that was interesting to begin with, but is all the more interesting here. Joining McShane are Riccardo Scamarcio, Ruby Rose, Common and Laurence Fishburne- reunited with Keanu Reeves for the first time since The Matrix trilogy. All of the cast here are good, with Common and Ruby Rose giving more memorable performances as a dutiful bodyguard (Common) and a kickass -and fashionable as funk– deaf assassin (Rose). All this said, I mostly squealed with joy at the sight of Peter Stormare (Fargo) and John Leguizamo (The Pest). Because I love me some Pest and guy-that-feeds-bodies-to-woodchippers.
“That’s right, I’ve sworn at cowboys, killed pirates and taught Jason Statham to drive. Whatchu got, Hollywood?
The last great points I have to drool over John Wick 2 for are the soundtrack and the cinematography. *Drooooooooool* But seriously, this is the good stuff. First off the soundtrack here is amazing; a great neo-noir blend of electro/synth/guitar scoring and some awesome dark euro pop music. As a fan of music like this, my ears were sent to heaven by the ‘coronation sequence’ in this movie alone. I’ll say no more. Next up we need to talk technobabble. John Wick: Chapter 2 continues the shooting style of the first film and then decides to kick its ass. Filled with moody neon lighting and vividly awesome contrast, John Wick 2 really feels like a Dark Horse comic brought to life. Not to mention there are action sequences here that put Netflix’s Daredevil to shame (including the 1 shot hallway fight). Keep a keen eye on the lack of cuts in the ‘catacombs’ sequence of John Wick 2 and your mind will be blown away.
I can’t even make a joke about this shot. This is just gorgeous filmmaking. *dies*
Teaming killer style with breathtaking in-camera action (no stunt doubles necessarily), John Wick: Chapter 2 is one amazing action film. From both a non-biased and personal point of view, I enjoyed the hell out of John Wick: Chapter 2 and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
A stylish, thrilling and satisfying action film starring a performer at the top of his game in what I think will be his defining role (move over, Matrix).
All I can say is go see John Wick: Chapter 2 RIGHT NOW. Just do it. Just go.
Wicked Cool rating: 100%
That’s right, John Wick: Chapter 2 scores a perfect A+. Because you honestly can’t do action better than this.
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