Every once and a while, there is a flash of intense genius in cinema. Here, I’m talking about the action variety. The sort of action that is searing and leaping off of the screen. In a time when American action films were hitting a wall of mediocrity, John Wick came out of nowhere and absolutely audiences with its badass self and now here we are with John Wick: Chapter 2 continuing the bloody path of equal balls-to-the-wall action genius.
The film begins with John Wick still picking up the pieces from the aftermath of the path of destruction from the first film. If you recall, John murdered a bunch of people and got sweet revenge but he never was able to get his Mustang back. So, naturally, the film opens with John going after his beloved car. This leads to an all out battle of metal, glass, bones and blood as he goes up against the dudes trying to stop him from taking the car back. Big mistake.
The central story follows Wick as he attempts to get back to a less murdery life, only to have someone from John’s past come up and ask him to perform a hit. When John turns down the offer, he is reminded that he owes a blood oath. Eventually seeing he has no other choice, he takes the job and heads to Italy to perform one last hit.
The intricate and analog world of John Wick is back. The Hotel Continental still acts as a sanctuary and John’s colleagues are still a big part of the story. But, as with any good sequel, this one opens up that world even further and gives you a peak behind the curtain. This is a world where a bartender acts as your weapons dealer, a tailor acts as a armor dealer and old telephone switchboards act as the underworld’s sole lines of communication. The world is still hyper-stylized with eccentric killers and intense candy-colored light magic.
This one also doubles the headshots and the amount of chaotic damage John does when armed. We have seen him use his pistols before, in this one he ups the action by switching to automatic shotguns and assault rifles. The mix of Judo and gun fu are a hypnotically awesome dance to watch.
Keanu, once again puts himself through the ringer in order to perform his own onscreen fights and gun magic. The dude was born to play the part, and he reminds of you of that throughout. The close-ups of Reeves in close quarters combat are breathtaking and couldn’t have been done without the level of commitment that Reeves had to becoming a real-life tactical expert.
From John Wick: Chapter 2’s first teaser poster,designed identically after Harry Lloyd’s Two-Gun Gussie. It was clear that this film would have inspiration from the classic silent films of yesterday. When John Wick battles Cassian (Common), the film becomes a sustained exercise in the best of silent films. The back and froth between these two could easily have the volume muted and still be just as effective.Adding to the silent film inspired world, Ares (Ruby Rose) plays one of the baddies who is a mute with a sadistic side. Rose does an awesome job of brining a unique character into the world and assisting in the silent world aesthetic.
The bone crushing practical stunts and the big set pieces go for broke this time around. I know what you are saying “But the first one was already action packed and brutal! How could this one take it any further?!” Well, good question (and stop yelling) but I assure you this one improves on and builds off of everything from the first film, making it your favorite action movie of 2017.
As if they were trying to overload my brain on the amount of cool shit in this movie, they bring in a Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburn reunion and a cameo by Franco Nero (Djano himself!). Fishburn plays a character called The Bowery King, it’s clear that John and him have a history. Their interaction is one of the few dialogue filled moments that allow you to catch your breath from all the action. It’s good to see these dudes on the screen together again and if all goes well, we might be seeing him again if there is a Chapter 3.
Asia usually gets all the cool action stuff, so I feel like we are living through history when we get our very own out this way. John Wick and John Wick: Chapter 2 are history in the making and are entirely badass. Don’t miss Keanu blasting heads off of the bad guys and as homework, try to count up all the headshots. Pssst, it’s a lot.