John Wick’s second outing is one of the most overblown, ridiculous, gratuitous and violent films I have ever seen. Bodies fly through the air. Bullets shatter everything in sight. The screen positively rocks with massive explosions. It’s undoubtedly over the top and completely daft.
But did I like it?
You’re damn right I did!
John Wick Chapter 2 picks up very shortly after the first one with John (Keanu Reeves) tying up a few loose ends. He does this in the only way he knows how - with extreme violence. Once this little problem is dealt with John returns home, finally able to retire. With a new dog in tow, he mourns his dead wife for a bit before an old acquaintance turns up and tries to draw him out of retirement to do him a favour. When John refuses the big baddie blows his house up in an effort to reinstate John into the world of hitmen. That should do it!
This throws John across to Rome on an assassination assignment. But barely before the mark has breathed their last he is betrayed and has to fight his way to safety with a 7 million dollar price tag on his head and a bit of an anger problem.
If you haven’t seen the first film (and you should) the filmmakers do a stellar job of catching you up with the character of John Wick. He’s the Boogeyman, the name that hitmen around the world fear. This makes the half an hour of world building slightly more justifiable as I for one was intrigued to learn more about this underground world of assassins. Once the action kicks in again the pace doesn’t let up until the credits roll. Too often in films nowadays I find myself switching off during the big action scenes but here the fight scenes never outstay their welcome thanks to the excellent direction.
Short of the fact that out of all these professional killers no one seems to be able to pull off a headshot, each and every fight feels very real yet different to anything you've seen before somehow. It’s a combination of Wick’s calculated style of dispatching bad guys and the excellent direction that keeps you invested, not to mention that Keanu Reeves is perfect for the role. Some of the dialogue is a bit off key but luckily most of the characters' intent is subtle without the need for speech. I guess a pencil in the throat says all there is to say!
One of the main problems I have though is with Ruby Rose’s character ‘Ares’ a mute security enforcer under the main bad guy Santino D’Antonio (played by Riccardo Scamarcio, and a much better villain than the first film.) She is named so after the Greek god of war but doesn’t quite live up to her namesake spending most of the film doing nothing but glowering. When she does finally jump into action it’s unimpressive to say the least. Throughout the film she seems like a caricature thanks to Ruby Rose’s overacting and sticks out like a sore thumb in contrast to every other character in the film. There’s just no reason for her to be here.
Visually the film is stunning too with a very distinct style that never falters from the first scene to the last. From strange dubstep opera to the culmination of chaos in an art exhibit it never fails to impress.
Action sequels can be very tricky to pull off successfully but that is what has been managed with John Wick Chapter 2. With a bigger budget often comes an over reliance on huge mind numbing set pieces but luckily the film makers seem to have understood what made John Wick great in the first place. It's extravagant yes, but never obnoxiously so.
And it could just be one of the best action films of the past decade.
written by Bradley Allen