With John Wick: Chapter Two, director Chad Stahelski returns with a sequel that is more successful than its progenitor.
After winding up some final business, John Wick wants to retire back to his quiet life. However, a face from the past demands John Wick pays his debt in the form of an assassination job…
John Wick: Chapter Two begins with a bang, and rarely lets up. It is a tour de force of ultraviolent action. The film surpasses the 2014 original, in terms of pacing, style and overall entertainment. Whereas John Wick offered an enticing revenge movie, the sequel finesses this formula.
The film is an onslaught of frenzied action which occupies the vast majority of the two-hour running time. The brief respites mostly work to provide exposition and background to the world of John Wick. There is an entertaining montage sequence which shows exactly how Wick gets his gadgets and intel. The stylish tics from the first film reemerge here, and are executed to a greater degree. Lighting is key in several of the action sequences, from the neon lights in Rome to the the futuristic gauze of the subway station.
Action sequences are choreographed exceptionally well. The film is undoubtedly graphic in its violence. However, it is so unrelenting, that it does not have the same impact as a more sparing use of graphic violence. Rather, the film’s action sequences emphasises the movement and flow of combatant figures. Stahelski directs these sequences with a grace more akin to dance choreography.
Keanu Reeves is not stretched in reprising this muted action hero. Ian McShane is more fun as hotel owner Winston, whilst Riccardo Scamarcio plays up his antagonist role. Laurence Fishburne, likewise, seems to enjoy his role. Littered throughout the film are self-deprecating takes, and Fishburne appears to relish in his part of these.
John Wick: Chapter Two is a must-see for action movie fans. This sequel completes the rare task of outperforming the original film. With an opening for a third film, it will be interesting to see whether Stahelski can continue this form.