The surprise of the original John Wick is gone; the movie that blew us away with it’s relentless gun-play, the likes of which we hadn’t seen since Equilibrium. In 2016, we have a new entry into the possible franchise and while it sings a new song and dives deeper into the mythology of the underworld, it leaves a few things wanting.
First let me get this out of the way; John Wick Chapter 2 is a worthy entry into the action genre and Keanu Reeves has cemented his place as one of the action heroes that will never be forgotten. It’s rare for an actor to have two major roles that permeate pop culture and to be frank, none other comes to mind at the moment. John Wick and Neo are Keanu Reeves and vice versa.
Also, the action when it finally kicks in is simply amazing. The choreography is pretty good and unlike the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies that have a lot of cuts between fight scenes, John Wick pulls the camera back and allows you to experience the brutal fights and gun-play violence in all their bloody glory — and it does get bloody too — there’s one particular fight scene in a train station that had the cinema audience where I saw the film gasping and the guys cringing while at the same time applauding. There’s another scene with an apparatus that has been spoken about at length in the previous movie and when it comes into play here, it cements the boogeyman status of Mr. Wick.
What I also liked is the mythology of the underworld. We’re never given a complete picture but instead given glimpses into how it operates and it’s done so masterfully and with just enough subtlety that it impacts the way we view the movie and that’s just top notch directing.
On the downside, I felt that while the movie was fun, it feels like a retreaded story and goes through a lot of the same beats as the first film with the justification of his actions in the previous film thrown out the window. Now he’s just another assassin who doesn’t want to die and gets to kill anyone who stands in his way while racking up a body count that makes me wonder why they even bother to fight in the first place knowing they’re coming up against the boogeyman.
In the end, John Wick is in no way a forgettable movie. It will have you talking after you leave the cinema hall, the ending will shock you and at the same time leave you tingling with anticipation as to what comes next. John Wick might be an action film with a lead character who’s very taciturn (it’s sometimes hard to always picture the affable Keanu being so stoic), but it’s a par above the generic action movie entering the market and with careful guidance and a smart script, the future movies will never feel dull no matter the body count Mr. Wick wraps up.
Bring on John Wick Chapter 3, who ever gets tired of seeing John Wick finish off a baddie with a well placed head-shot?