Three years ago, Keanu Reeves made a brilliant return to action territory in John Wick, a film that came pretty much out of nowhere and blew us all away. Stunt coordinators-turned-directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch did an amazing job on it. On John Wick: Chapter 2, Stahelski has gone behind the camera solo, but it’s still even more awesome and mind-blowingly insane than the first film.
John Wick: Chapter 2 picks up soon after where we left off in the first film. John Wick is paid a visit by Italian crime lord Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio), to whom Wick is in debt. Still trying to stay out of the game, Wick refuses to accept the marker. But he is once more drawn back into the world of international assassins, and all-out action naturally ensues.
The original film unquestionably featured ridiculously great action throughout. It had two of the best stunt coordinators in the industry serving as directors; how could it not? But Stahelski and his stunt team somehow manage to raise the bar considerably, more than I would have thought possible. The action is totally out of this world. It looks slick as hell. The headshot count is significantly higher, the kill count is higher, and the stunt choreography is even more jaw-dropping. You feel every bullet fly, every punch, every broken bone, and every car crash. It’s brutal. And quite simply amazing.
Reeves remains on top form throughout. He is totally in his element here, helping to make the action all look utterly awesome and feel natural. Ian McShane and Lance Reddick are both great in this sequel, alongside a handful of others reprising their roles from the first film. And while Common, Scamarcio, Ruby Rose, and Laurence Fishburne are the obvious stand-outs among the newcomers to the cast, my personal favourite additions were that of Peter Serafinowicz’s Sommelier and Luca Mosca’s tailor.
Hats off again to Derek Kolstad, who wrote another great script for the sequel. Yes, it obviously leans heavily on the action, and yes, there are elements of the story that are a little far-fetched. But they all largely make sense within this fantastic world that Kolstad created alongside Stahelski, Leitch, Reeves, and co. in the first film. And he’s done a terrific job of expanding it, keeping elements of its predecessor while also keeping things fresh.
John Wick: Chapter 2 is that rare action movie that basically doesn’t get made anymore. It’s a mid-budget blockbuster that doesn’t have superheroes, doesn’t have magic, doesn’t have fantastical creatures. It just has people and a whole lot of action. There are dozens of low-budget knock-off versions of these getting made every year, and there’s a reason most of them sink rather than swim. John Wick: Chapter 2 is heads and shoulders above all of them, surpassing even the first film in its awesomeness, its creativity, and its non-stop balls-to-the-wall action. Easily the most fun you’ll have in a cinema all year. And utterly essential to own when it hits DVD later this year. The best adrenaline-fuelled high-octane action flick of the century.
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