John Wick was a relatively unknown film upon its initial release in 2014 over in the US. It was then released in the UK six months later. Yeah, it starred Keanu Reeves, but it was under the radar at first and then began to pick up a following afterwards. It reminded me of Taken, where this new action film came from nowhere and instantly became a classic movie once you had seen it. I mean, how many action films have you cried watching in the first few minutes? Not really a spoiler, but a dog gets killed FFS!
It is such comparisons to other action films that made me feel nervous for the sequel, John Wick Chapter 2; because Taken 2 and 3 were just shit. But where the Taken sequels literally just rehashed the same story, John Wick Chapter 2 expands the John Wick world, enhances the character and only rehashes the elements of the first – OTT action, well-choreographed fights and good old Keanu Reeves. But this is such a good thing.
In a nutshell, the storey involves John Wick wanting to retire and lead a normal life. But when his past catches up on him, he is forced back into one last job to call of his debt. That job goes fine, but a few twists and turns mean that Wick is on the run from a lot of people with a bounty being placed on him.
The film begins with a pretty long action sequence that throws a lot at it. Cars, bikes, taxis, rain, cheesy-lines and humour. On the note of humour, this sequel definitely has more humour in. There’s a particular pistol shooting scene in a train station that had me giggling – it’s just nice to break up long periods of action with some laughter.
If it’s been a while since you have seen the first movie or haven’t at all, then the first 10 minutes of this film will slap you in the face with a reminded of what John Wick is. Think of it as a nice, tickly slap, rather than a beating kinda slap.
Some issues include the editing throughout the film – it seemed a bit inconsistent, a bit confusing for me. The fight scenes are long takes and really get you involved – they’re really cool. But then some ‘slower’ scenes are edited really quickly, whereas some dialogue scenes are so slow and empty, it almost seems like the actors have forgotten their lines or something. So the pacing is a bit iffy, but that is being quite harsh.
I wouldn’t say you judge action films like others, but if you were just to base it on the action, John Wick Chapter 2 would get a near perfect score. Keanu Reeves is known or doing as much of his scenes as possible, and it pays off. When watching the scenes play out, you really must take you hat off to the amount of planning and work that has gone into the action sequences. Things get really creative in these moments. It’s as if the team said, “let’s come up with the most creative kills imaginable” – something similar to a Mortal Kombat meeting, I imagine.
This is kind of it’s high point and low point. Some of the kills are special, but where the action goes on for a long period (a good thing of course) there just has to be moments when you have the normal headshot kills, filler kills just to keep the pace going. Because of this, you may think, “aw Wick, just get it over with already”. Again, this is a small niggle and overall the scenes are entertaining and fun!
Despite this, the styling of chapter 2 is clearly a highlight. The film looks beautiful for the majority of the time. A key part in Rome is when the director plays on our vision and sound. You have the darkness of night, the sound of Italian electric-rock and the pyrotechnics of a rave! It’s Viagra to the action movie goers senses! It really stands out and doesn’t just make this action film a good one, but a stylish one too.
It’s also cool that we get scenes which show John Wick’s preparation for a hit. His clothing selection providing us with the knowledge that his suit lining is bullet-proof (ahhh that explains his death defying nature!) but notably, I really liked the gun selection part. It could be just a part you ignore, but it really stood out to me. Before the hit, I knew the guns Wick was taking with him, so by the time the scene was in full-flow, I felt like I knew he had actually planned this (as an assassin would) rather than action-movie ‘coincidence’. It helped ground the film, contain some element of realism and I had “when’s he getting his shotgun out?” in the back of my mind! OK, it’s not an assassin documentary, but it is a nice angle on the kick-ass prep.
I said that the sequel expands on the Wick universe. We get a look at the underground system of this world (headed by Laurence Fishburne). It’s really interesting the way this plays out and actually moves us into a more comic book universe feel. At first I thought this would deter too much from the grounded world we knew in the first movie. But looking at John Wick as a character who gets stabbed, shot, knocked down and all sorts, it seems fitting to place him in this kind of comic-book world.
Ruby Rose is a new addition to the cast and adds eye-candy (slight crush on her) and she doesn’t even say a word in the entire movie, bit of a naff attribute for a character that doesn’t bring too much to the film really. Winston (played by Ian McShane) returns as the head of the Continental – the assassin network. He brings a father-like figure for John Wick and helps move the film along and justifies early on why Wick must pay off his debts.
At approx. 2 hours, the film is just about right in length. Any longer and I think it would have hurt the film big time. But the action is great; seriously amped up from the original. The scale of the film is bigger and explores the underground of the city. Add to the style and a lovable new dog and this is seriously a cracking film – better than the first, in my opinion.