DIR: Chad Stahelski • WRI: Derek Kolstad • PRO: Basil Iwanyk, Erica Lee • DOP: Dan Laustsen • ED: Evan Schiff • DES: Kevin Kavanaugh • MUS: Tyler Bates, Joel J. Richard • CAST: Ruby Rose, Keanu Reeves, Bridget Moynahan, Laurence Fishburne
Three years after his first foray out of retirement, ‘The Man You Send to Kill the Boogeyman’ returns to cinemas in John Wick: Chapter Two. Chad Stahelski reprises his role at the helm of another gun-fu infused revenge flick with the titular role being occupied once again by the enigmatic and often mechanic Keanu Reeves. In Chapter Two, the narrative delves deeper into the murky underworld of assassins that was merely hinted at during John’s path to redemption in the first movie. Sword sellers and mercenaries linger on every corner between Rome, Manhattan and beyond as John tries to settle a debt to Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) that would allow him to leave the game forever…(uh…again). Once the debt is paid however, John finds himself staring down the barrel of an infinite number of weapons upon learning he has been double crossed.
Mad Keanu is joined by a host of monochromatically dressed cameos heaved on top for good measure. These include the muted androgynous stylings of Ruby Rose (Orange is the New Black), no seriously, she plays a gender-fluid mute assassin. The cast also includes a typically whimsical, yet menacing, Peter Stormare, and a gravelly toned and sage like Ian McShane. Sci-fi action fans the world over, one red pill and three matrices later, will also be glad to see the reprisal of Keanu’s on-screen pairing with Laurence Fishburne.
Like its predecessor, it transcends the trappings of cliche by deliberately and fearlessly participating in them all without apology. John Wick unapologetically pays homage to almost every action hero franchise to date; if Clint Eastwood had access to MI:6 training and equipment, it might look a little something like this. However, despite the frequent captivating action sequences and the host of colourful sets and characters, many of the scenes still feel poorly paced. This can more than likely be put down to the often superfluous feeling interactions between Mr. Wick and his contemporary assassins, where the dialogue comes off as just downright clunky. The blunt exchanges between the hand to hand and shoot em’ up combat sequences are endearing at first but by the time the final credits roll one cannot help but feel a slight sense of relief.
At times, the film can be equally as dark and brooding as the first. Notably, Stahelski has managed to flesh out what had previously seemed to be destined to be a classic yet one dimensional revenge flick paradigm. Developing Wick’s universe does, however, undeniably come at the expense of the running time, which clocks in at 122 minutes. On paper, that doesn’t seem to be as egregious of an affront to an audience’s attention span compared to some of the more recent Hollywood action franchise flicks ( I’m looking at you Batman vs Superman), but JWC2 still feels every bit of two hours plus. Fans of the gun and fist slinging first movie won’t be disappointed but be warned, it would be remiss to call this film a non-stop action thrill ride. Having said that, it would be unfair not to commend Stahelski et al on the wonderfully choreographed and brilliantly executed combat scenes peppered throughout.
Unfortunately, this reviewer is of the opinion that Chapter Two is guilty of what Bryan Singer and Fox have done with the X-men franchise by trying to jam in far too many characters at once. They say simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. If that is true, then I think it’s more than fair to point out that fans may miss the emotionally driven and epic purity of its action-packed predecessor. Ultimately, despite its fun moments, this reviewer is of the opinion that although the film is perfectly watchable, viewers should preferably opt to catch this chapter of the soon to be saga by waiting for the the streaming service/DVD release in the coming months.
16 (See IFCO for details)
John Wick: Chapter 2 is released 17th February 2017
John Wick: Chapter 2 – Official Website