John Wick Chapter 2 (2017) Review:
John Wick and the Terrible, Murderous, No Good, Very Bloody Day
It’s easy to think that originality in Hollywood is dead. Case in point: Lego Batman. A movie based on a line of toys, based on a comic book character. The cynic in me wants to give up on cinema altogether. Then a movie like 2014’s ‘John Wick’ comes around. The brainchild of long time stunt coordinators and first-time directors. With its captivating style and intriguing world, John Wick was a sleeper hit that thankfully, has been granted a sequel.
Blessed are we the meek, who have been granted by the Gods of film, this bountiful gift.
Compared to the first film, John Wick Chapter 2 is a definite upping of the ante. Everything that made its predecessor an exhilarating thrill, is present in this sequel. It’s never going to be as impressive as that first instance, but John Wick Chapter 2 does enough to keep the film feeling fresh, despite stepping over familiar ground.
Then again, avid viewers of the first film might be slightly disappointed at how familiar this movie is. Many of the same beats are hit. Sometimes exactly. For my money, I was happy to get a mix of new interesting characters, and dimensions to John Wick’s world of coordinated assassins. There’s an air of immense playfulness and creativity to the film, a quality that runs from its world expansion, t the many many ways John Wick knows how to inflict punishment. It’s a good thing he’s an assassin and not a primary school teacher.
I once saw Mr. Wick discipline 3 kids, at his desk, with a pencil. A f*****n’. Pencil.
It’s not just inflicting punishment. John Wick is one of those rare instances of action hero who despite his tremendous skill, takes quite a bit of pain. Physically and otherwise. Keanu Reeves is somber enough to give Batman a run for his grieving money. The entire cast does well to sell you on their intriguing additions to the John Wick world. Hardly anyone is wasted. Especially in the case of Ruby Rose. She plays an assassin who communicates only via sign language but is arguably the most charismatic of the lot.
To be honest, I’m not sure which is the case. Either the characters are so well performed by their actors, or the film is just that good at building the atmosphere that surrounds them. I’m inclined to think the latter, considering Common. The raptor is a bit of a distraction when you first see him, but as it goes on, he feels as organic with the rest of the movie as John Wick himself. There are a number of performances though that benefit from the notoriety of the actors that play them. Who could find fault with pairing Neo back with Morpheus?
I’ll be honest, I would’ve cheered if it turned out the world of John Wick was just a construct of the Matrix.
A staple of the first film is the way the action felt as focused as John Wick himself. That’s not changed and remains the best element of this film. John Wick moves like a force of nature. The way he dispatches violence is swift, merciless and also, immensely creative. It shows an immense skill on the part of the directors. The kind of skill it takes to choreograph extended action sequences the way most scripts craft dialogue.
Of course, I couldn’t end this review without mentioning how refreshing it is to have a film willing to use colour. So many big budget releases are devoid of a sense of colour palette. Looking drab and grey. Blues in John Wick pop, as do pinks, oranges and of course black. Black never looks as good as when it’s amongst a symphony of colour. The movie isn’t particularly gorey, so it’s the gorgeous envrionments that stand out in John Wick’s playground of murder.
John Wick Chapter 2 is an example of what makes a satisfying sequel. Its stakes are greater, and while a little bit too familiar at times, has more than enough new material in it to warrant the attention of fans of the first film. That said if you watched that film and found it wasn’t for you, stay home. This is not going to change any hearts, nor any minds. For me, I was happy to see Mr. Wick back in business.
Rating: Big Screen Watch