Director: Chad Stahelski
Writers: Derek Kolstad
Stars: Keanu Reeves, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ian McShane
John Wick returns or should that be forced back to the criminal underworld to repay a debt to Santino D’Antonio played by Riccardo Scamarcio. Having reviewed the first film only a few short months ago it was always my intention to follow it up and the second chapter’s release announcement is which motivated me to go back and watch the original film in preparation for its sequel.
John Wick Chapter 2 pits Wick (Keanu Reeves) relentless character against the criminal underworld once more. Reeves once again proves that his character is a force to be reckoned with in the sequel that is in my opinion every bit as fun as the original movie. Every once in a while an action film comes along that can either go two ways. Keeping in mind that most action films you find that you have to put your brain a suspended animation kennel (yeah yeah I nicked that from Back to the Future Part II) and accepted the genre for what it is. These movies are either done very well or……they aren’t. It’s as simple as that I’m afraid.
Artistically this sequel holds up to its original. The style of cinematography, the choreography, the action sequences and the direction I could go on about but if you have already read my review on John Wick you would accuse me of repeating myself. In fact now, you are probably accusing me of being Last and forcing you back to read a previous review….what can I say? Chad Stahelski hits the ground running in the next chapter of the man the criminals call “The Boogieman” The feel and tone of the film is very much in line with the first. It’s vibrant colors (especially within the layers of the amphitheater scenes are visually pleasing on the eye and surprisingly compliment the violence and chaos within those scenes.
The sound is amazing and not only adds another layer to the action sequences but and especially with the weapons used. I thought the scene with Wick and Cassian (Common) having a stand off that results in the use of silencers in very public places surprisingly amusing and after all the violence in this sequence, topping it of is both of them going to the bar to have a drink and cool off. The sequel was always going to be bigger and better and with most sequels it doesn’t disappoint when the director and writers want to expand on the characters stories and relationships within this underworld. Also pleasing was involving the majority of the cast from the original John Wick. If I had one bugbear in comparisons was probably the sequences were a little more drawn out than in the first movie and again it’s just nitpicking as I always enjoyed the straightforward approach Reeves character portrays in the original.
Although it didn’t come as a surprise thanks to the trailer that was released was the inclusion of the new character Bowery King played by Laurence Fishburne who although had limited screen time I believe that the character has been planted in there and will resume a larger role in the sequel which has only been announced not that long ago and is scheduled for a 2019 release date. Fishburne as you know never disappoints and with Reeves and Fishburne working so brilliantly in the past you are not surprised that both actors chemistry is still there but a nice twist to their relationship would be to put them up against each other in the next movie, but we shall see.
The villain portrayed by Riccardo Scamarcio is convincing enough and is a different kettle of fish to the villain in the first movie. Scamarcio’s portrayal of D’Antonio is more sophisticated and calculated than Michael Nyqvist’s Viggo Tarasov who very much like the villain in Taken 2 is an underground boss and father seeking revenge. Here D’Antonio is calling in Wick’s debt in hiring him as an assassin on D’Antonio’s own sister in a bizarre and twisted move to gain more power “at the table” Also returning is Winston (Ian McShane) but this time having more screentime and dialogue. I always enjoyed this character from the first movie and felt McShane’s talents were slightly underused. Here we see Winston having more say, offering more advice to “Jonathan” and adding to this world.
Overall, John Wick Chapter 2 is a very good sequel that holds up well to the original and at no point do you detect within the characters “we’re back, bigger and louder and cockier than ever” feel to it that always annoyed me in another Reeves franchise that I won’t mention but rhymes with “The Zatrix”. Chapter 2 feels more like a continuation of an already solid storyline and the audience right away is drawn back into the trials and tribulations of Mr Wick. If there was one negative I have already mentioned and that was the pacing and duration of some of the fighting sequences but this doesn’t ruin the film in anyway. If you have already watched the first film, I would highly recommend in watching the continuing story of a John Wick. Highly recommended.