Title: John Wick: Chapter 2
Release Date: February 10, 2017
Studio: Thunder Road Pictures / Lionsgate
Director: Chad Stahelski
Release Format: Theatrical
Back in 2014, we were introduced to a character named John Wick. Not only was the film one of the best action movies of the last decade, it featured Keanu Reeves back in top form as a retired assassin getting revenge on those who wronged him. Won’t say what they did for those who haven’t seen it. However, if you haven’t seen it… Shame! That’s really all I can say. Shame! You’re doing yourself a disservice. Please see John Wick if you haven’t already. I’m pretty sure he puts a beating on more people in that movie than he did in all The Matrix movies combined. That’s quite a feat.
Now we have the sequel, John Wick: Chapter 2. Honestly, I didn’t really know what to expect from this sequel. My biggest fear was that they would just go back and completely rehash the first movie. That they would turn what was an amazing action film into a generic action film franchise. Thankfully, I am pleased to say they didn’t do that. John Wick: Chapter 2 is not only a great movie but better than the first. Shocking, I know, but it does happen sometimes. I don’t want to reveal too much about the plot because this is a movie you should experience but basically John Wick refuses to do something, people come after him, he’s running for his life, he wants revenge again and now we have a sequel.
What really made the first film work so well extending into this film is Keanu Reeves. Reeves owns the character of John Wick. He fully commits to this role and he makes himself as a professional assassin 100% believable. I mean, let’s look at Alice from the Resident Evil films. Does that character do anything to earn the role of a badass? No! Keanu Reeves as John Wick makes us care about him and his struggles and the fact that he kills people effortlessly is just kind of a nice bonus. It’s one thing to show John Wick do awesome things but we still have to care. We have to care about the character and the things going on around him. John Wick: Chapter 2 does this all too well.
What also makes this sequel work is that it expands upon the elements of the last film. It actually expands upon its world, instead of just doing the same thing again, which they could have easily done. For example, the rules of the safe haven hotel for assassins we saw in the last film. The history of that place and the rules for it are expanded upon and play a much bigger role in the sequel. We see so many sequels constantly just try to catch lightning in a bottle all over again by doing the same thing and nothing different. Hot Tub Time Machine 2, Sinister 2 and The Hangover Part 2 all did this. John Wick: Chapter 2, however, feels very different. It feels like it’s advancing the plot and the mythos of John Wick instead of regressing to the same thing.
The action is actually much better and more intense this time around, and for those who have seen the first film, you know that’s saying a lot. The action in the original was outstanding. The director actually outdid himself in this sequel. There’s one long action set piece that takes place in the catacombs. It so perfectly edited and shot and the tension of the scene never lets up. There’s another sequence in particular with Keanu Reeves and Common that is both tense and hilarious. There’s really good physical comedy in the scene that sells it and makes it more enjoyable. In fact, there’s a ton of comedic moments in this film, mostly revolving around the reactions of characters when John Wick does something unpleasant.
Laurence Fishburne cameos as an old friend/enemy of John Wick. Honestly, it was so cool to see Neo and Morpheus together on screen again. I swear, I really hope they get Carrie-Anne Moss for a cameo in the next one. Please, make it happen. That woman just co-starred in The Bye Bye Man. She needs work, guys. Trust me! If I have any complaints, I would have liked to see more of Fishburne’s character because he’s not in a whole lot of the movie. For what I got I was satisfied but this character was so much fun, I just wanted more of him. If my biggest complaint is that I wanted to see more of a character because I enjoyed him so much, that should tell you how great this movie is.
My only other issue is that the main villain isn’t that interesting. He’s not bad by any means but there’s nothing about him we haven’t seen in an action movie villain before. However, what makes up for this is the history they give between him and John Wick. The history between them is enjoyable and believable so you can kind of look past the fact that the villain, on his own, is nothing special. Ruby Rose also makes an appearance as a secondary villain. She speaks entirely in sign language and I thought that was pretty clever. I don’t know how a deaf woman would hear an assassin approach but I thought it was a nice touch. A tiny awesome deaf girl killing assassins is not something you see too often.
Overall, John Wick: Chapter 2 does what all good action sequels are supposed to do. It builds on the main character, builds on the world around the main character and ups the action and stakes to make the story feel new and exciting instead of just a rehash. It’s perfectly acted, perfectly paced and brilliantly sets itself up for John Wick to come back for a third round in the future. In the end, John Wick: Chapter 2 was even better than the first, exceeded all my expectations and I can’t give it anything less than a perfect score. The movie comes out this Friday so please go see it. If this doesn’t make more than Fifty Shades Darker at the box office, I’ll just assume we have failed as a species.
- Keanu Reeves As John Wick
- Ruby Rose
- Action That Rivals That Of The First Film
- Great Cinematography
- Laurence Fishburne
- Amazing Stuntwork And Fight Choreography
- Expert Pacing
- Could Have Used More Laurence Fishburne
- Villain Isn't That Interesting But The History He Has With John Wick Makes Up For It.
A graduate of Full Sail University with a Bachelors Degree in Creative Writing, Adam is a Writer and Film Critic, looking to make his mark on the world. When he isn’t at the movies, writing for The Nerd Stash, playing Duck Hunt (respect the classics) or delivering pizzas to his neighbors, he is back at school earning his Masters Degree in Film Production.