Whether or not you enjoy the sequel to John Wick will depend largely on how much you liked the first one. Keanu Reeves is back as the stoic, deadly assassin in the next installment of what seems to be shaping up to be a franchise.
The movie begins from very near the point where its prequel ended. John Wick is trying to put his past life as an assassin behind him when he is pulled back into the criminal world. A promise John made to a crime lord in return for allowing him to leave the underworld and marry his wife now forces him to carry out a hit on the crime lord’s sister.
Things go awry, a bounty is placed on John’s head, and soon he’s trying to outrun the world of assassins he was once part of. Let’s see what the highlights of the film are and what it has to offer to moviegoers.
1. With the John Wick series, Keanu Reeves has managed to successfully reintroduce himself to a younger audience that may not have seen The Matrix as a bona fide action star. John Wick 2 rests on his shoulders, and Reeves makes sure John Wick never becomes a parody of the silent but deadly assassin.
John Wick doesn’t talk much, but you can see the pain behind the eyes of a man who is at once completely at home in the world of assassins, and yet trying desperately to escape from it.
The movie is very much an exploration of Wick fighting against the very nature of his being, and Reeves makes sure the audience gets to see that part of John Wick’s struggle, whether he’s fighting an evenly matched opponent or trying to protect his adorable new puppy.
Who Seems Strangely Indifferent to the Wall of Fire Before Him
2. The action is spectacular. I’d compare it favorably to other recent Hollywood action movies, but the simple fact is that there is nothing like this going on in Hollywood right now. It’s too slick to be compared to Bourne. It’s too gory to be compared to Marvel, and too grounded to be compared to a James Bond or a Mission Impossible.
The action in John Wick inhabits its own unique space, and it does so remarkably well. Credit goes to the stunt team, and once again to Keanu Reeves, who at 52 makes you believe he’s still the guy who fought an army of Agent Smiths a couple of decades ago, now with a new, more gun-centric approach to fighting.
“Basically, My New Strategy is to Constantly Shoot Enemies in the dick.”
3. The cinematography is a joy to behold. This might be a strange thing to comment on in an action movie, but your eyes can’t help but be momentarily distracted from the action to enjoy the unique style aesthetic that the sequel carries over from the first film.
The director, Chad Stahelski, worked in stunt choreography before becoming a director, and he has brought his action expertise to the sequel to make John Wick’s universe come alive in front of the audience and become a living, breathing, incredibly stylish beast.
This Movie is so Stylish, it has a Tailoring Session Right in the Middle of the Action
4. The Wickverse gets expanded in this film to take on much larger proportions. We get to see the (very literally) shadowy world Wick once belonged to, and just how vast its reach is. There are markers and blood oaths, criminal high councils and a hotel for assassins where violence is not allowed.
The movie allows for enough interesting new facets to the Wickverse to be added to keep the stakes high and follow an internal logic that carries the film all the way to its conclusion. John Wick 2 really lets you know how much material there is in the storyline to get through several future installments of the franchise. Although some of the new additions are harder to grasp than others.
“Hello, this is the Wickverse Underworld Call Center, How may I assist you?”
What Doesn’t Work
1. Some of the action scenes are too long. This was a problem with the first film as well. There is only so much you can do to make multiple headshots interesting every time.
“I Use Different Guns to break the Monotony.”
2. The plot only allows for the bare minimum of a story to unfold. The film has so many balls to juggle together, from the action, to the aesthetic, to universe-building that the story ends up getting the short shrift.
Don’t expect some kind of major emotional arc for the main character, or for any of the side characters. This film is all about the ‘how’ rather than the ‘why’.
And the Answer to How is always: a). Shooting, b). Stabbing
All in all, John Wick 2 is a solid sequel to the first one. The entire cast is great in their respective roles, and Stahelski brings an assured presence to the director’s chair. The film is not too ambitious, but it does manage to give you more of what you loved about the first film. The sequel doesn’t try to pretend to be anything more than an action film, and succeeds very well within the limits of the genre to provide a thrilling, pulsating piece of filmmaking.
This is a guest post by Neeraj Chand Who blogs at Some Thoughts and Things.
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