Film Review: John Wick: Chapter Two

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.

Film Review: John Wick

John Wick

Director Chad Stahelski’s John Wick is a stylish action thriller with neo noir overtones. The film is entertaining throughout.

Recovering from the death of his wife, former hit man John Wick is slowly starting to recover when his new hope is taken from him. With nothing to lose, John is on a revenge mission…

John Wick is a successful directorial debut from stunt co-ordinator Chad Stahelski. The film works well thanks to its pacing and strong action sequences. John Wick barely offers a respite from the action, and is a better film for it. Stahelski clearly knows the film’s strengths.

The premise of the film is simple, but not much more is required to set up the sequence of action. John Wick is a straightforward revenge tale, but one that engages with a brisk pace and a lack of unnecessary derailments. The humour present in the film is a good tool to acknowledge the absurdity of some of the situations. And yet John Wick endears with its refreshing lack of pretension.

The protagonist’s story is told mostly in flashbacks. The beginning of the film is effective in informing the audience of the present situation without spending too much time on the past. More of an idea of the character of John Wick is given through others rather than the character himself. The protagonist functions as something of a blank slate, allowing supporting characters to build up an impression of him. The antagonist in John Wick is rather caricature, however there is slightly more to him, which is revealed later in the film.

John Wick‘s soundtrack is good, and the art direction gives the film a neo noir feel with its use of colour and artificial lighting. Never known for superb acting, Keanu Reeves is well cast as the the detached hit man.

With its finely executed fight sequences, John Wick is a most enjoyable action movie. Fans of the genre should lap up this offering.