Review: “John Wick: Chapter 2”
Three years ago, Keanu Reeves introduced us to John Wick, a slick, uncompromising action hero who pulled no punches and went to places that no action film had gone in quite sometime. Now, Reeves is back in John Wick Chapter 2, which manages to top the original in every single way.
The new chapter picks up where the original left off, by having Wick retrieve his car while the original villain’s brother is upstairs. In most action movies this would be the climax, but here it’s just the beginning. After the opener, the movie’s plot comes into focus when Santino (Riccardo Scamarcio) shows up at Wick’s door. In the tradition of the underground, Wick owes him a marker; Santino wants his sister dead so he can head his underworld which their father gave to her.
This section takes us to Rome, and in other movies this would be the main thrust. . . yet things are still just heating up. After the marker is hit and met, Santino betrays Wick by putting a bounty on his head. What happens next will be left for you to discover, because the less you know, the more fun you will have.
Chapter 2 could’ve easily sold out like the Taken sequels or the last Die Hard movie, but instead it builds in suspense throughout, featuring a level of unpredictability that hasn’t been seen in this genre in many a year. As a result, this is one of the best sequels out there, joining the ranks of Aliens and The Godfather Part II. And Keanu Reeves gives a note-perfect performance that carries the movie from the first frame to the last.
In addition to being action-packed, John Wick Chapter 2 also succeeds in finding the appropriate kind of humor throughout. One shooting scene between Reeves and Common featuring silencers is done so subtly that you can’t help but laugh, and a later scene with Laurence Fishburne features zingy one-liners and pure escapism.
Speaking of pure escapism, what people come to John Wick for are the kills, and there are plenty. Like the original, many are brutal. The difference is we go even farther this time. One in particular on a subway platform has to be seen to be believed, and the climax in a house of mirrors art exhibit gets more dangerous as it goes along. Then there is the kill involving a pencil — no words can describe it.
The last 10 minutes of Chapter 2 put us in an extreme position for Wick. So much so that it tries to set the next movie up but unlike a lot of other recent movies that have tried this (and there have been many) there is a sense of real originality and dread in this setup. Wherever Chapter 3 goes, it will actually be worth following.
John Wick Chapter 2 has everything a smart action movie needs: Colorful characters, fun locales, and thrilling fight scenes. It’s an all-out blast and there’s never a dull moment to be had.