John Wick: Chapter 2 – Review
Opening with an explosive action set piece involving guns, cars and a very nervous Peter Stormare – John Wick is back doing what he does best. Killing every bastard in sight!
There’s something special about Keanu Reeves action movies. When they’re good, they’re very good. This is one of the good ones. Expanding on themes established in the original film whilst still finding time to take things in new and often unexpected directions.
I can’t think of many films where fights to the death end with the two combatants having a quiet drink in a bar – but John Wick: Chapter 2 is a film that likes to surprise us.
Still haunted by the death of his wife – all Wick wants to do is settle down and live a quiet life with his nameless dog.
Then former colleague Santino Dantonio enters his life. Dantonio wants Wick to do a job for him. He’s calling in a marker. When Wick tries to decline the offer – the heavy price he pays convinces him he must do what he’s asked. He has to do this job if he wants to get out of the life for good.
Completing the task however brings more chaos into Wick’s already complicated life. The slimy Dantonio double crosses him.
So we’re plunged into an adventure where Wick must dodge bullets, knives, and fists coming in from every direction. He must battle a deadly deaf mute hit-woman – and also Cassian. A rival of Wick’s looking to put him out of the picture – even though the two acknowledge a grudging mutual respect.
There’s plenty of international intrigue here. Rome has never looked more beautiful onscreen.
The Continental Hotel and it’s staff make welcome reappearances including Ian McShane as Winston – the charismatic head of the organisation.
There are great additions to the cast. Reeves gets to have a reunion with Laurence Fishburne – and even that old dog Franco Nero joins in the fun!
The action scenes are GREAT! A shootout to pounding techno takes place at a catacomb rave. The scene is reminiscent of the nightclub gun battle in the original. I’m wondering if scenes like this will be a hallmark in all future John Wick movies?
When the battle descends further into the catacombs you’ll find yourself gripping your armrests with tension. Chad Stahelski is an extraordinarily talented director. This is so satisfyingly explody. Brains everywhere!
There is an ingenious gunfight in a busy train station that is cleverly constructed and reminiscent of early John Woo. Punctuated by little moments of gallows humour to keep us chuckling.
None of this comes at the expense of the plotting. This is a far more complex affair than the original. We get more details about The Continental and the way they operate. It’s very interesting and adds a richness to this world that keeps us interested on an intellectual level as well as gloriously entertained.
If John Wick was about a man on a mission then John Wick: Chapter 2 is about a man on the run. From his past, from his enemies, from his friends and more importantly from his fate.
Wick acknowledges that he is afraid of damnation. Scenes are reminiscent of Dante’s Inferno. This film represents a metaphorical descent into hell for Wick. Like his soul is finally lost. The marker which he agreed on with Dantonio is in effect a Faustian pact which puts all these events into motion.
At first we’re led to believe that perhaps Wick himself is the devil in this tale. Yet maybe he’s not. Is he just a lost soul who still has some virtue hidden inside?
A great scene in a gallery full of mirrors is a metaphor of the internal conflict within Wick. Forced to see his reflection doing such awful things – he’s looking at his own soul. Finally seeing the ugliness there.
I’m assuming the third movie will be the tale of his redemption. That’s a story I’m looking forward to seeing. Until then, there’s a real feeling that paradise is lost.
The Man Who Saved Movies. Somebody PLEASE get this man a gun!