Keanu Reeves is back in black reprising his iconic role as the titular character John Wick in this follow up to the 2014 action epic that received high praise from critics, industry insiders, and fans alike. The original John Wick was an impressive display of faced paced realistic action mixed with tactical gunplay and exciting driving sequences. ‘John Wick: Chapter Two’ attempts to recreate the fun and originality of the original while turning the volume up to 11 and ripping the knob off. So, does this sequel live up to the legend of the original or is time for the Boogeyman to hang up his guns and go the way of Neo from ‘The Matrix’? Let’s find out!
Let’s start with the plot. Without giving away too much in the way of spoilers, ‘John Wick: Chapter Two’ picks up pretty much where the original left off with John going in hard on the Russian mafia. Once that plotline is tied together neatly in a bow we’re introduced to a new cast of characters (including a new dog) and a handful of plot points that didn’t really seem to make sense from the start. However, you quickly forget the plot holes because the action ramps back up in milliseconds and have you frothing at the mouth for more. Outside of a few twists that come way out of left field the rest of the film progresses pretty linearly and easy to predict.
The real selling point of this franchise is the action and in that department, ‘John Wick: Chapter Two’ does not disappoint. While the action in this film is reminiscent of the original it’s also far more violent, intense, and genuinely thrilling. I was sitting on the edge of my seat for many of the close combat and gunplay scenes. If you’re a fan of films like ‘The Matrix’ and the ‘Bourne’ trilogy then You’ll quickly fall in love with the action in this movie. But the past part of the action in ‘John Wick’ isn’t the choreography, the excellent soundtrack, or the creativity. It’s the way it’s shot. Unlike other modern action films, there is a noticeable lack of shaky cam and quick jerky camera cuts. The action is fluid, vibrant, and easy to follow which is truly something amazing this day and age.
Outside of the action this movie also spends a lot of its runtime investing in worldbuilding. We dive much deeper into John’s world, how it works, and John’s past in this movie. Some of it is cliche and a bit ham-fisted but all in a way that’s fun and could easily spin off into another sequel. Based on the amount of information thrown at you about the way John Wick’s world works, I expect there to be many more movies in this franchise in the coming years.
Not much to say about the acting in this one. No one in the cast (even Keanu) stands out as particularly memorable. However, it was nice to see Laurence Fishburne and Reeves reunite onscreen for the first time since the matrix trilogy in the early 2000’s. While it’s fine that none of the cast really stood out in a good way it’s a real let down that a few people stood out in a bad way. Sadly, Ruby Rose is just not good in this movie. Rose is a decently talented actress and having her play a mute assassin is a real waste of her potential.
‘John Wick: Chapter Two’ isn't a perfect movie, it’s not as good as the original, but it is still good. If you’re looking for an adrenaline-fueled, testosterone ladened action film that will make you nostalgic for both the 90’s and 80’s then go and see this one. It’s easily worth the price of admission, popcorn, and the time investment. Plus its not ‘50 Shades Darker’ and that alone is reason enough to give it three and a half stars.
Rating: ***½ / *****