Movie Review: John Wick destroys more heads in compelling John Wick: Chapter Two
Director: Chad Stahelski
Writers: Derek Kolstad
Stars: Keanu Reeves, Common, Ian McShane
Synopsis: After returning to the criminal underworld to repay a debt, John Wick discovers that a large bounty has been put on his life.
John Wick: Chapter Two is an explosive, over-the-top action rampage that resurrects the action film genre, along with its predecessor. With some masterful cinematography and glorified set pieces, John Wick relies heavily on its visual style in some pretty captivating ways. Despite a few notches in its screenplay and story, it still makes for a wildly enjoyable film. A combustion of gun fights, car chases and just pure annihilation, John Wick: Chapter Two is damn near close to a modern action masterpiece.
After attempting to retire from his life of being an assassin, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is reluctantly pulled back into the dark underworld in order to repay a debt. After fulfilling his duties, Wick is betrayed and now must escape the ever-looming bounty that has been placed on his head. With a bit more in-depth story than the first film, the second installment already proves that it is a great love letter to the first project.
The most obvious strength that this film possesses is how the action is coordinated. There’s a specific reason that John Wick excels among other modern action films. Not only do the filmmakers create these absurd, unique set pieces that are rather pleasing to the eye, but they take a hint from the older Jackie Chan films that allow us to see the action in its entirety. Most action films like to have these jumbled cuts in order to give that feeling of adrenaline, but Wick takes a different approach. The filmmakers often frame a bit wider in their action scenes, and edit those sequences with coherent precision that amplifies the movement of the actors. Instead of having this jumbled style of filmmaking that appears to be exciting, they actually create real excitement.
However, the story does fall a little short. Then again, we aren’t watching this film for a great story. But following in the footsteps of the first movie, the story is a bit one dimensional and doesn’t offer much else than what is spoon fed to the audience. And this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, a pulp style film can’t be knocked for being pulp. If the script to John Wick: Chapter Two had been slightly more nuanced, it could have luanched this project into a new category of cinema history, than simply being an action-masterpiece. In comparison to the first John Wick, this installment definitely holds a few more interesting and exciting moments within its story, especially in terms of world building and seeing how this assassin society works. Some of the characters dive a bit deeper into their development, and there is a lot of cause and effect style pay-off within the screenplay.
On top of its immaculate visual style, Chapter Two is incredibly well edited. The action scenes are edited robustly but even outside of the film’s big moments, there’s still an intentional outlook to how this film is cut. Certain shots contrast each other from incredibly wide to incredibly tight, and even to the style the editor uses when subtitles are on screen. Not only does the film craft its action sequences to perfection, but the film’s self-awareness lends itself to embrace the lunacy depicted in a way that is fun to watch.
John Wick: Chapter Two is one of the greatest action films of the 21st century since well, the first John Wick. With incredibly well designed set pieces, to solid performances and score, John Wick is the perfect action movie beat for beat. Now that director Chad Stahelski is attached to Deadpool 2, it’s clear anything he decides to do will be tackled with precise care.
Overall Grade: A-
Hear our podcast review on Episode 208: