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MOVIE REVIEW – John Wick: Chapter 2

Posted on Friday, February 10, 2017 at 9:26 am

Photo by Niko Tavernise

The Boogeyman has one heck of a tailor

John Wick: Chapter 2

***1/2/ ****

By Jason Wiese

If 2014’s stylishly silly revenge tale John Wick was not enough for Keanu Reeves to earn your respect for him as an action hero back after the Matrix sequels forced you to abandon ship, its second chapter just might be the film that does. Furthermore, it may be the latest action film to convince you that it is still possible to find refreshing excitement in endless, rapid gunfire, egregiously grim side characters and a wall-to-wall body count. But if that is not enough to pique your interest, John Wick: Chapter 2 is not only one of the most satisfying action sequels in recent memory. It is one of the most gorgeously shot, expertly paced and thoroughly invigorating action films I have ever seen. Period.

Chapter 2 essentially picks up where the original left off with Reeves’ titular character, after a fun opening sequence of him retrieving his stolen Mustang, returning to his home with a new dog and looking to put his past as an infamously deadly assassin behind him once and for all. But, of course, in the criminal underground, there are no easy escapes. After a powerful criminal and former acquaintance of John’s named Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) requests his skills for a selfish task, John immediately refuses. Unfortunately, the rules of the criminal underworld leave John no choice but to accept the request and travel out of the country on business with a new sense of style.

I will let you discover what happens next on your own. Of course, like the first film, Chapter 2 is particularly thin on plot. Yet, also like the first film, it is exceptionally grand with everything else. Other than its mind-blowing action, the world of this series is its most appealing element, predominantly due to the mixed bag of characters who make up the criminal alliance that John either dreads or thrives on. Just about all of the characters who survived the events of the first film reappear, including Ian McShane as hotel owner Winston and John Leguizamo in a smaller but notable reprisal of mechanic Aurelio. While in the last film, this criminal underground felt like a small yet influential group that lives in the shadows, the introduction of new characters (such as Common as ruthless assassin Cassian and Ruby Rose as silent but deadly Ares) and settings with international ties convinces you that these people are running the world right under our noses in plain sight.

Director Chad Stahelski, whose feature debut was the first John Wick and also served as Reeves stunt double for The Matrix trilogy, brings you into the new corners of the world he created with screenwriter Derek Kolstad through a beautiful window. It is easy to tell that the filmmakers received a much higher budget to work with on this film and certainly used it to best of their ability with stunning production design and wildly choreographed action sequences that never fail to keep your adrenaline above the healthy limit. Even in the film’s more subtle moments, every frame or line of dialogue is so rich in its own signature style that the fun never stops.

John Wick: Chapter 2 ensures me that the action genre has a new guardian angel and that guardian is the Boogeyman. As being a highly satisfying cinematic experience, the film achieves that rare moment when a sequel is not only bigger than its predecessor, but even better.