MOVIE THEATER REVIEW: “John Wick: Chapter 2” stars Keanu Reeves (The Matrix, Constantine ), Riccardo Scamarcio (Burnt, Loose Canons), Ian McShane (Kung Fu Panda, Hot Rod), Ruby Rose (Orange is the New Black [TV series], xXx: Return of Xander Cage), Common (Selma, Run All Night), Claudia Gerini (The Passion of the Christ, The Unknown Woman), Lance Reddick (Fringe [TV series], Lost [TV series]), Laurence Fishburne (Mystic River, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice), and John Leguizamo (Ice Age, Romeo + Juliet). It is directed by Chad Stahelski (John Wick) and written by Derek Kolstad (The Package, One in the Chamber). Having tied up his loose ends from his small foray out of retirement, John Wick (Reeves) makes plans to return to his pleasant lifestyle away from work. However, he ends up getting thrown back into the game when his house is destroyed by a man he made a deal with in the past. Now, Wick must regrettably help him in hopes of holding up his end of the bargain.
Keanu Reeves has a franchise again! Let’s just hope that it doesn’t come to a crumble like his last one did (though my reviews for “The Matrix” series will tell you otherwise). I was pumped for “John Wick: Chapter 2.” I thoroughly enjoyed the first installment for its killer, beautifully choreographed action, concept, and cinematography. There was a lot to sink my teeth into with the world revolving around John Wick, and I’m glad they crafted a sequel; all I could hope for at that point is for it to be relatively good. Opening up with a rigorous chase scene, only to lead to Wick tying up loose ends from the first film (which gave way to a fight sequence that felt like an eternity, but was drudgingly awesome at the same time), this flick throws you right into the action and doesn’t let go. Everything about this movie screams bigger and bolder; Wick does business in Rome, the big baddie is more menacing, and the world involving assassins is given more light. There’s even more action, as expected in a sequel, which can generally focus more on quantity than quality. However, “John Wick: Chapter 2” doesn’t deter itself far off the beaten path with its many additions. In fact, I believe that this feature has improved on many things since the first, one of those being the hidden world Wick works in. I stated in my review for “John Wick” how much I wanted to explore the Continental and things like it; just how in-depth this organization really is. That’s what I received, and I was eating it all up. There’s so much to explore and get out of in this film apart from the job Wick is given, and the writers did a good job in fleshing out everything in a timely manner. Throughout the whole adventure, I was thoroughly entertained and engaged. So much action and thrills unfolded on the screen, from Wick’s many body flips to a cringe-worthy murder using a pencil. I’m a huge action fan, so this was candy to me as almost all of what happened was choreographed masterfully. Keanu Reeves still pulls it off too, as he is the same bada** we all know and love. The one thing I admire of these John Wick films, however, is how weak the character really is. Not weak as in he can’t win a fight (he’s proved that wrong many times), but rather how human he is. Many action flicks have their leads going through the motions as if they are immortal, though Wick is constantly getting beaten up to the point of exhaustion, and it shows. The crew behind the character as well as Reeves himself go to lengths to show how vulnerable Wick is, and how no amount of protection can keep him out of harm’s way. Sure, he stands up and gets back into a fight after getting hit by one too many cars, but at least all the other times it looks somewhat realistic. That’s what the writer tries to convey, especially when approaching certain action clichés. Although this film holds quite a few of them, this movie generally fights against the grain, causing some unexpected moments, such as the result of Wick’s conflict with the main bad guy. It’s stuff like this that makes a flick, easily able to tumble down the pitfalls of Hollywood, jarring. Taking a step back from specific pros and ideas this film brings to the table, I’ll say that overall this is a concrete story. It has many layers to it and essentially sets itself up for another sequel throughout the whole journey. This might annoy certain viewers, but for me I didn’t mind it too much. The ending itself left me a bit frustrated, as I’d rather it conclude on a solid note where, if the next project isn’t greenlit, we wouldn’t need to depend on another release to wrap it up; but what’ll draw you in for more other than a nice cliffhanger? Analyzing how this plot plays out, away from its willingness to keep the franchise alive, it has a lot of similar story structure qualities as the first. Wick is in retirement, something close to him is destroyed, he seeks vengeance, people hunt him down for a reward. This was all evident in “John Wick,” and while I still took enjoyment out of it, I find myself putting it down as a con. All of this worked well for the story, though taking new approaches is always a good option. Honestly, besides similar story structure and its need of another sequel, there isn’t much more to state as a con for this movie, besides a few issues in plot revolving around Wick’s fighting in public (ever hear of security cameras? And why does no one see any dead bodies lying around at a train station?). The acting was fantastic, the locations were beyond stunning, the dialogue was engaging/thrilling, and the action was just…epic. Seeing Keanu Reeves kick butt once more is always a win in my book. When comparing this to the first film, my friends agreed that this took the cake. As for myself, that’s a tough decision. Hardly does a sequel ever top its predecessor, though “John Wick: Chapter 2” puts up a heck of a good fight. It definitely has improved in many aspects over the first, though “John Wick” has a more emotional pull and air-tight story. I found myself feeling more for Wick in the first than the second, but that shouldn’t take away from the whole experience. There are still moments in this sequel that give meaning to the main character and his inner torment. If I were to say that the first was better than the second, it wouldn’t be by much, and vise versa. They are just about on equal footing, and for this sequel to make that feat is the biggest compliment that it will ever receive. If you enjoyed “John Wick” or are a big action fan, check this one out; it’s an awesome thrill ride. FINAL SCORE: 91%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: