John Wick is the man you sent to kill the Boogeyman. John Wick: Chapter 2 is the follow up to the slick action thriller from 2014 and it doesn’t disappoint. John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is back out of retirement again, this time fighting to honour a blood oath and to avenge himself.
Chapter 2 takes us further into the crazy assassin underworld that John is trying to retire from, from the catacombs of Rome to the homeless of New York City. The second instalment directed by Chad Stahelski, in what I am guessing will end up being a trilogy, goes further into plot and character with a little less action. The first act is where the plans are laid out, and as such there are fewer action scenes (save for the fantastic pre-credits sequence that shows us how great Keanu Reeves is at these stunts and fight scenes even at the age of 52). However we are given the chance to see John get kitted out with the best gear available in Rome.
Unlike the first film, Chapter 2 sees John taken out of retirement to honour a blood oath he made with Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) a member of the Neapolitan Camorra, who wants to take his sisters’ seat at the High Table,which is basically the international council of the assassin underworld. And Santino won’t take no for an answer.
While John Wick was fuelled by John’s desire for revenge over his dog, car and wife, Chapter 2 has a few lulls which make it less effective. This is could have been its downfall as it has to be said that Keanu Reeves is not the best actor ever. At these moments of inaction, his delivery is often stiff and even when he is doing the sign language it feels uncomfortable. His best moments are when he is opposite Ian McShane or Lawrence Fishburne, both great actors who help carry the scenes. (And can we just take a moment to appreciate the fact it is Morpheus and Neo reunited once again? *Cue ‘whoa’ scene from The Matrix*?) But then again, the stiffness and unemotive Reeves’ helps him become John Wick, who, having lost so much, is now basically a very efficient killing machine.
But for all the scenes where Keanu is not shooting people in the head, we have a lot of fight scenes where he is shooting people in the head. Or stabbing them with a pencil, which is just as fun/gruesome to watch.
Just like the first one, the action scenes are the high points of the film and they are surreal to say the least. No one ever seems to notice the suppressed shots being fired in a crowded mall, the bloody and limping man walking around a train station – even the police know to stay away when John is ‘working again’.
Strewn with cameos – Peter Serafinowicz is the best one, and a more rounded bigger-names supporting cast (Common, Ruby Rose), John Wick: Chapter 2 might not have the punch the first one did, but it is a stylish, entertaining, adrenaline-pumping film that has clearly been left open for a Chapter 3. And I say, bring it on!