John Wick: Chapter 2 – Review

The first John Wick, as you can probably tell if you’ve already perused my review of that below, was something of a rare gem for me. Indeed, critics have universally praised it as a welcome surprise in the action genre. It came along under the radar and blew many expectations out of the water. If you want more of the same, you’ve come to the right place. John Wick: Chapter 2 did not disappoint.

I’ve praised the set up for the first movie for its simplicity and the way it makes you feel about the character of John Wick (Keanu Reeves) – despite him being a bit of a shit, you can’t help but root for the guy. He’s been through hell and made it out the other side, so we can appreciate his reluctance to be thrown back in. The challenge posed by this film then was how John Wick might continue his rampage of destruction, and this was quite well handled. Having avenged his murdered pup from the first movie, he still needs to locate his car, currently residing in a chop shop owned by the brother (Peter Stormare) of the Russian mobster from the first movie and uncle of the twat who stole the car. This provides the basis for the first big action scene of the film, which, like practically all of the action to follow, is incredibly fast, brutal and fun. The main plot is then established when a figure from John’s past emerges (Riccardo Scamarcio) and forces him to travel to Rome, returning to his roots as an assassin in order to fulfil a blood debt. Unfortunately, this sets off a chain reaction that pits John against a host of other deadly assassins in order to right another wrong committed against him.

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Ruby Rose as Ares, a deadly, mute assassin. There are literally no words. [Image from Inverse Entertainment]

 

Initially, I thought this was a less effective premise, however, giving it some thought, this was essential in order to flesh out the universe in which the film is set and give greater depth to the mythos surrounding the assassins. The ‘Continental’ hotel from the first film, established as a neutral ground where no contracts are to be carried out, returns and is revealed to be part of a chain where these assassins can re-supply their arsenal and “never have the same meal twice”. I mean, if these were real, I’d be paying a visit to their tailors faster than you could say ‘Quidditch’. Ian McShane is back as the somewhat sinister hotel manager, while the supporting cast includes Ruby Rose and ‘Common’ as fellow assassins hunting Wick down, John Leguizamo reprising his role as Aurelio and Laurence Fishburne as The Bowery King – a shadowy crime lord akin to a ‘King of Beggars’.

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Laurence Fishburne swapping circular shades for pigeons. [Image released by Lionsgate]

 

Who are we kidding though, the action is what we need to talk about here and it certainly ups the ante from the first movie. I couldn’t tell you the body count here, but it’s pretty fucking high, alright. Wick drops goons like flies all over the place, but he’s certainly not invincible. Like the first film, he gets a solid battering from several opponents, which really begins to show as the plot progresses. But he’s ‘the Boogeyman’, a force of sheer will and they ain’t gonna stop him, no way. In particular I was pleased to see a reference to one of the best anecdotes from the first film where it’s discussed how Wick was able to kill three men in a bar with a pencil. Yeah, he straight up nails a couple of guys with a pencil here, and it’s disgustingly brutal and satisfying. Jason Bourne, eat your heart out. The final confrontation is also surprisingly inventive in the way it’s shot. I won’t give any spoilers, but it’s certainly an intense sequence that seems to take some inspiration from The Man With The Golden Gun. It’s definitely highly enjoyable and quite clever.

There’s a lot more down time in this movie as well, which was welcome for me as it gives time to get to know the characters more and have John Wick become something more than a gun with a dead wife. I have to say as well, the world around the hotels is compelling and interesting and I’d like to see some more of that! I don’t think I’d be spoiling it for anyone if I said that I’d be very disappointed if a sequel never appeared, producing a trilogy. That is where this movie leads us and my God does it set it up in a satisfying way.

Therefore, unless you’re blind or just haven’t been paying attention (FOR SHAME), I think it’s pretty obvious that I would recommend you go and see this movie instead of hiring a hooker if you’re looking for a good time. It’s a lot cheaper, for sure.. I guess.. Depending on who your hooker is, am I right? This is a satisfying sequel to one of the biggest surprise movies I’ve seen in the last few years, which, while not quite reaching the more impactful emotional highs of the first outing, certainly delivers on the action. And isn’t that why we’re here in the first place? It’s not perfect, for sure. There’s a great deal of ‘faceless goon’ syndrome going around here, but if you’ve seen the first one and you enjoyed it, check this bad boy out. You won’t be disappointed!

7/10


Thanks for giving this puppy a quick read! Have you seen this movie already? What did you think of it?  As always, any constructive criticism or comments are very much appreciated. Follow me on Twitter @snakeintheplane for updates on whatever other crap I might be writing about and I’ll see you guys when we take a look at the next Snake in the Plane.  

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