Luckily for fans of gun-fu everywhere, Keanu Reeves and Chad Stahelski know how to keep a good thing going. John Wick: Chapter 2 shows that the budding franchise still has some surprises left in it. Like The Raid 2, the team opts not just to deliver more spectacular set pieces, but also takes a more deliberate approach to further explore the weird, wonderful and terrifying parallel world of assassins around the infamous John Wick. There isn’t as much forward momentum as the first due to a slightly more complex narrative, but it never feels like the audience’s loss.
The film looks great too. Stahelski frames all the action with the first’s trademark crystal clarity, playing with perspective, shadow and bursts of colour. Fight scenes are shot in wide, long takes that remain solely focused on Wick, making sure to showcase their graceful choreography.
The Wick series continues to be delightfully absurd, taking all of the strange details of the first film to their absolute breaking-point (look out for Laurence Fishburne as the king of a group of homeless assassins). There’s black humour in spades; and, with it, more elaborate rules of assassin conduct that owe as much to Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai as it would a bureaucratic organisation. Some of the violence will have audiences squirming in their seats, as, spoiler alert, we find out how deadly Wick really is with “a fucken pencil”. Reeves is still perfect casting as Wick, bringing an immense physical performance as the bereaved angel of death.
An antidote to overly elaborate action films, John Wick: Chapter 2 doubles down on both the mythology and the violence of the first film, delivering a great followup that doesn’t lose sight of what makes it so damn entertaining. Yeah, we’re thinking he’s back.
CAST: Keanu Reeves, Common, Riccardo Scamarcio, Laurence Fishburne, Ruby Rose, Bridget Moynahan, Lance Reddick, Franco Nero, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane
DIRECTOR: Chad Stahelski
WRITER: Derek Kolstad
SYNOPSIS: Legendary hitman John Wick is forced back out of retirement by a former associate plotting to seize control of a shadowy international assassins’ guild. Bound by a blood oath to help him, John travels to Rome where he squares off against some of the world’s deadliest killers.