WARNING: The following review contains spoilers, I’m telling you now so you don’t pretend to be outraged later.
Back in 2014, a little film called John Wick starring Keanu Reeves about a retired hitman out for revenge after a couple of goons beat him up and killed his dog was a modest box office hit in the US only earning 43 million in the states. However, the word of mouth and critical reception was so strong that the film became a cult classic for its crazy action and crafty cinematic style. Just like that Keanu Reeves had the making of another franchise on his hands and the hype for John Wick: Chapter 2 couldn’t be greater. Fast forward almost 3 years and that day has finally come, the sequel to the 2014 hit is here and the only question that needed to be asked is, ‘Can this film top the first one?’ Could John Wick: Chapter 2 still keep us on the edge of our seats or will typical sequel letdown set in? The Answer? Get your popcorn ready.
Our film begins immediately after the events of the first movie. Wick had just killed the Father and Son of a Russia crime family for the death of his dog and his best friend. Now Abram Tarasov the brother of Losef Tarasov wants to take out Wick himself…and its ends about as well as you think. Wick displays the power of cheat codes as he gets hit by many vehicles but is still able to take out an entire army of paid thugs while Abram hilariously listens to the carnage from the safety of his office and it is at this point, you know you are in for a great ride. After dispatching of cannon fodder, Wick returns home to take a second chance at retirement. The problem is he still owes a debt to a homicidal Italian crime lord Santino D’Antonio, who wants John to kill his sister Gianna and take her place at the High Table, A council of high-level crime lords. Wick declines so D’Antonio blows up his house containing all the memories of John’s past life with his wife and here we go again.
John Wick 2 doesn’t miss a beat from the first movie. The story picks up immediately and the action hit the floor running. In a world full of a ridiculous amount of super-secret assassins, the film feels like James Bond meets Hitman series except Wick isn’t as subtle as Bond or 47. A wee bit spoiled by series like The Raid, I did find some of the fight scenes a bit slow and choreographed but it would me completely nitpicking if I took a point away for that. In reality, the fight scenes are very creative and some are downright funny. The subtle humor in this film is quite enjoyable, even better than most modern comedies that actually try to make you laugh. Such ridiculous scenes like Wick and Cassian (Common) having a shootout at a train station using silencers while everyone else in the walkway is completely oblivious is one of the best home run scenes in the film.
Another credit the film deserves is that they do not waste a single character in the movie. Everyone in the film is unique and stands out from everyone else. Ruby Rose plays a deaf assassin who despite the fact she can’t speak (which is probably a good thing) she displays more charisma than any other role I have seen her in, to date. Common plays a bodyguard and rival assassin who has it out for John because he killed his boss. Laurence Fishburne reunites with his former Matrix castmate in a small role as the leader of a group of ‘homeless’ assassins in NYC. Ian McShane is the owner of the New York City Continental Hotel and of course, you can’t leave out Keanu Reeves as Wick. Reeves is in the zone as a tragic hero who simply wants to be left alone but the elements of his past keep knocking on his door despite knowing how dangerous he is. Leaving him with no choice but to put on his old suit and do what he does best, solidify himself as ‘The Boogeyman’. All of these characters play an important role in the story and making it as good as it is. Recently I have complained about films being too long but despite this movie being 122 minutes, it will have you wanting more and at the very least, have you begging for the last installment to be completed ASAP.
John Wick: Chapter 2 concludes with John becoming the most wanted man in the world without a home or an ally on his side as the film sets up an explosive last chapter. As good as the first John Wick movie was, I’d argue that this film may even be better. The action is just as brutal if not more so in this sequel. Everything that made the first film a hit is magnified and polished creating a high-octane atmosphere you would have to be on lithium not to enjoy. John Wick: Chapter 2 is the first certified smash hit of the year and Keanu Reeves almost 15 years after the Matrix has another and much-deserved franchise on his hands.
OFFICIAL RATING: *****
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