"John Wick: Chapter 2" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
In "John Wick" the titular protagonist lost everything he ever held dear to him. His wife, his Mustang, and his new dog - all wiped away in the blink of an eye. Yet, I don't think John has felt as lonely as he does in the sequel to the hit breakout action film. While John is going against the world in the next installment, what ensues is an over-the-top, high octane action film that will leave the viewer pumped with adrenaline as the credits roll on this fantastic follow-up to the 2014 thriller.
Starting right after the end of the first film, John (Keanu Reeves) has successfully exacted revenge against the people that took everything from him. The only thing he is missing is his beloved car, which eh very easily gets back in the opening scene for this film, bullet holes and all. After successfully completing his personal mission, he is ready to fully retire and live out the rest of his days in peace.
That doesn't last long however, when he is approached by Santino D'Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio), a powerful figure that is associated with the High Table, the main political organization that oversees the acts of hitmen and assassins. John made a blood oath with him many years ago, in hope Santino will never come to cash it in. Now that he has, John refuses, causing Santino to up-end his life, forcing him to get back into the game once again to assassinate Santino's sister, guaranteeing him a spot at the High Table. When he succeeds and is ultimately betrayed, it is now up to John to find out how to survive when all the assassins are now after a massive bounty on his head.
Like the first movie, this film contains another spectacular performance from Reeves, who shows his knowledge on how saying less means much more in a film like this. I can assure you that John has the least amount of dialogue out of any character, despite being the central protagonist who is in nearly every scene of the film. He uses his fists and action to do the talking for him, and Reeves is able to show emotion and pain through his fighting sequences. I mentioned this in my review for the first film, and I'll mention it here once again - this is the role Reeves was born to play.
The story is fast-paced and energetic, providing a more complex and overarching story compared to the first one. I do applaud the filmmakers for trying to make a bigger and broader story, but I think it handicaps the film in parts. Some of the scenes in this film seem to drag at times, losing some of the momentum that the film spent building up. I would say I easily prefer the plot of the first film due to its simplicity. It sort of serves as a mindless action flick that does everything right, while this one is more concerned with creating a franchise for these characters and in this world. Nothing wrong with that; I just think they could have cleaned it up a little.
However, in what it lacks in some elements of the story, it totally makes up for it in its choreographed fight sequences. I would easily say the action present here is better and more focused than the first film. From start to finish, the action is nitty-gritty and much more gruesome than its predecessor, showing how the filmmakers had a much more grand scale to work with when shooting this movie. From the scene where John fights Common's Cassian to the almost endless chase sequence that occupies the latter half of this picture, all of the fights leave the viewer feeling a sense of overjoyed adrenaline.
I think the fact that the filmmakers were able to deliver a sequel that is nearly as good as its predecessor is very impressive. Many sequel suffer from the dreaded curse, never being able to live up to the full potential of the original. That doesn't apply here though; not only do they craft a brilliant sequel that lives up to the hype, but they also effortlessly further the main overarching story for many sequels to come in this fantastic action franchise.