It’s felt like a long wait, but a sequel to 2014’s breakout action hit John Wick is thankfully finally here, with the ageless Keanu Reeves once again getting the job done as the titular master assassin who just wants a quiet life.
It’s rare to get such a brilliant medley of characters coupled with an absorbing story brimming with action, so to find that this sequel surpasses the original on almost every level is quite remarkable. It’s a beautifully orchestrated medley of ferocity with Reeves lighting up the screen in a series of action set-pieces that constantly ups the level of spectacle.
Director Chad Stahelski has crafted an action masterpiece, with an involving script by Derek Kolstad that delves further into this hyper-reality world that Wick inhabits. As the title suggests, John Wick: Chapter 2 focuses on the next phase of John Wick’s life. Having now avenged the death of his dog, the film starts with a blistering car chase as Wick is once again on the hunt, this time to tie up some loose ends and get his beloved car back.
Soon afterwards, he is visited by Santino D’Antonio (a brilliantly devilish Riccardo Scamarcio) – a mob boss who played a pivotal role in John Wick being able to escape his former life. Now he’s here to collect on that debt, which forces Wick against his better judgement to accept an impossible assassination job in Italy. From there on, John Wick finds himself against escalating odds as he looks to escape his former life once and for all.
Returning favourites John Leguizamo (Aurelio), Ian McShane (Winston) and Lance Reddick (Charon) make for welcome additions to the mayhem, but the roster of new talent is exceptional too. Screen legend Franco Nero is wonderful as Julius, The Continental Hotel manager in Rome. Peter Serafinowicz also pops up in a scene-stealing cameo as the Sommelier, a man tasked with kitting out John Wick in all kinds of weaponry.
The story keeps things ticking over nicely as John Wick is pushed to the limit through a series of sensation set-pieces. He has a bruising fight sequence with Common who plays Cassian, a fellow assassin who Wick has crossed paths with in the past, whilst woman of the moment Ruby Rose is great as Ares, a mute killer who’s Santino’s bodyguard.
The action is of paramount importance here and Stahelski really knows how to frame these sequences excellently. Everything is filmed a good distance away so you can see every bone-crunching move in full glory. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s the modern trend of shooting action sequences tightly with needlessly rapid cuts that don’t do the scene the justice and leaves the viewer at risk of epilepsy. Compare the first Taken movie with the second to see the best example of how much of a difference this can make.
With unrelenting action that constantly grips you like a vice, John Wick: Chapter 2 is everything you could hope for and more. It’s a hugely enjoyable way to spend 2 hours and sets up a third movie with remarkable tact and suspense. Keanu Reeves has never looked better and it’s great to see him in another top franchise. Speaking of which, there’s also a nice throwback to his Matrix days in John Wick: Chapter 2 with a great supporting turn from Laurence Fishburne.
Cast: Keanu Reeves, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ruby Rose, Lance Reddick, Common, Peter Serafinowicz, Franco Nero, Laurence Fishburne Director: Chad Stahelski Writer: Derek Kolstad Released By: Warner Bros Certificate: 15 Duration: 122 mins Release Date: 17th February 2017