When Keanu Reeves stepped onto the screen in the 2014 film, John Wick, cinema lovers and critics met the film with joy and accolades, as it boldly, bloodily and brilliantly updated the revenge films of the 1970s for the 21st century The screen was filled with top drawer stars, and the simplest of revenge stories was hung on a framework of incredible and jaw dropping stunt craft.
Flash forward to 2017, and Keanu’s hitman, Wick returns to the screen. While it seems three years may have passed for the audience, not much time has passed for John, as we join him in his quest to recover his car from the first film.
From there, he finds himself drawn into the middle of a mafia family’s power play as a marker he gave gets called in by the nefarious, Santino (Riccardo Scamarcio). It seems Santino needs Wick’s special skills.
Of course, there are double crosses and betrayals, but if the first film taught us anything, and as the character of Winston (Ian McShane) reminds us time and again through both films; there are rules governing behavior, and action, and justice, vengeance and decorum will have their day.
There are also a set of rules that apply to sequels, which usually dictate more of the same, but bigger and louder. As proof – if the stunt craft in the first film was stunning, the work in this film is simply jaw-dropping. I know there was harnesses and wires involved, but the craft work is done so well, the director was a former stuntman, that it looks realistic, brutal, and cinemaphiles will be wondering how they did that. From people getting hit by cars (or getting knocked out of one), to fighting and falling down a huge flight of Italian stairs, the film’s action sequences are beautifully choreographed. Stahelski gets exceptional work from both his cast, and his stunt team.
The look of the film is beautiful. It was gorgeously shot in New York and Rome. As Chapter 2 takes the Wick phenomenon global, it expands its own mythology and world nicely. And speaking of gorgeously shot, the camerawork in the climax of the film is amazing as Wick confronts the villains of the piece in a mirrored art gallery – and yet the camera can’t be spotted once (sure there is digital removal processes – but these things have to be planned out and choreographed – amazing!).
We encounter new and familiar faces this time out (no spoilers), as John goes after those who have wronged him. This is a man, whose past comes back to haunt him, and it takes away everything he cares about, stripping him bare, making him a live wire. The audience knows thing aren’t going to go well for anyone in the film, but if John Wick ever hangs up on you then you KNOW you are in trouble.
Much like the first film, the story is simple, but because of the characters and the world we’ve been introduced to in the first film, we know what we are getting, and it is served up just right, and you will definitely get your fill!
It also, without revealing too much, sets up the third film very nicely, and the last sequence of the film can’t help but leave a knot in your stomach, even as you crave to know what happens next!
Reeves is right at home in the role of Wick, and he plays it to the hilt, proving himself a very physical actor, and a believable hitman who just wanted to get out… John Wick: Chapter 2, like its predecessor, is high calibre entertainment. It doesn’t claim to be, or strive to be anything more, and as such, it rocks
And yeah, he’s back.