John Wick: Chapter 2 Review

John Wick (2014) was made with a budget of $20 million. With that, directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch created one of the most memorable and entertaining action thrillers in recent years. In fact, it is safe to say that John Wick (2014) is one of the best action films released since Gareth Evan’s The Raid: Redemption (2011). The simple yet emotionally deep plot made it unique tale of revenge and redemption., while also showing a standout performance from Keanu Reeves (The Matrix, 47 Ronin, Street Kings) that was surprisingly underrated. The film showed off the beauty of practical action and stunt choreography while introducing its audience to a secret world of assassin’s and mob bosses all of which coincided together perfectly into a fantastic thriller. The biggest task that sequels must accomplish, is outmatching its predecessor. John Wick Chapter 2 (2017) has done just that.  

Entertainment Factor:

Without a shred of doubt, John Wick Chapter 2 (2017) was well worth the wait and surpassed expectations tenfold. The choreography is masterful along with the amazing cinematography.

John Wick (2014) mainly focused on the action while John Wick Chapter 2 (2017) adds more story and additional lore to expand upon such an interesting and unique world.

Each shot shown in the film is masterful and at times if not always beautiful. A similar feeling that people felt towards George Miller’s (Mad Max, The Road Warrior, Happy Feet) Mad Max: Fury Road (2015). The lighting throughout often adds a very dramatic effect upon each scene, that’s the beauty of John Wick Chapter 2 (2017). It is obvious that series director Chad Stahelski has put in a vast amount of effort for every scene shown. His efforts are highly commendable and I look forward to seeing him continue on with future projects.

All set pieces are unique and imply their own unique pieces of dialogue or action set pieces. In fact, what made the film’s predecessor, John Wick (2014) so entertaining was the choreography. To put it bluntly, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is considered “The Boogeyman” or in other words “The One You Send To Kill The Boogeyman”. He is a man of sheer will and determination and will kill anyone that gets in his way. He is merciless and I have to admit, I felt kinda bad for some of the henchman in the film, more than one actually. The brutality of the melee and firearm combat makes John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017) a highly memorable experience.

The gore in the film surpasses it’s predecessor by a long shot, most likely due to the previous budget being doubled to $40 million. Which goes to show that in order to make a great film, you do not necessarily need $100 million to make a great movie. The film relies on it’s story and action, both of which fit perfectly together like two pieces of a puzzle. In fact, somehow they put in quite a lot of stunt work considering the many instances where they could of replaced a stuntman, for CGI.

John Wick’s inner turmoil and anger makes him lethal to any that oppose him. The tactics, reloads, and fighting techniques shown in the film are perfectly acted and really pack a punch. John Wick in fact does an iconic firing stance for close quarters known as the Center Axis Relock stance and during shootouts that take place over a distance he switches back to the classical and original Weaver and Isosceles stances. He does tactical reloads, flips magazines out of his weapons like he’s taking out trash. He performs highly advanced takedowns and strategic strikes while also fending off other pursuing henchmen. He knows where to strike, takedown, and shoot. One thing I must discuss is John Wick’s favorite strategy known to many as the “Double Tap”. What this strategy simply is simply putting another bullet into your target, just to make sure they go down and stay down. In John Wick (Keanu Reeves) case, most of the time he puts more than two bullets into one target.

The melee combat within the film is surprisingly realistic and entertaining considering the styles John Wick (Keanu Reeves) uses a mixture of Judo and Jiu-Jitsu which blend together to make some excellent fight choreography and stunt work. I must say, that the stunts in the film are phenomenal, considering the overall budget and locations, this film stands out and goes to show that you don’t need a large budget to make an excellent film.

One particularly memorable sequence that is near the conclusion of the film, is the “mirror shootout”. I have to hand it to the camera crew, directors, and even the actors. Because there are moments where it is almost shocking a boom mic, or even a crew member was caught in the reflection. Consider the mirror sequence, a modern day recreation of the Enter The Dragon (Bruce Lee, John Saxon, Bob Wall) finale where Lee (Bruce Lee) attempts to exploit main antagonist Han (Shih Kien) actual location in a room filled with mirrors. The finale of the film is a modern day recreation of the cult classic martial arts film.

One small yet entertaining element in the film is the car chases. Surprisingly this film goes to show some of the best car stunts (especially for a budget like this) seen in recent cinema. While there are not many, the car sequences that do appear are also highly entertaining.

There are not many instances in cinema where are sequel can surpass its predecessor. In fact, some series have been ruined by the attempt of a studio cash-in. John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017) outdoors it’s predecessor by a long shot in both action and story, and will be most likely be one of the best action films released in 2017.

Story:

The first John Wick (2014) had a simple yet highly effective story that showed fantastic set pieces along with some excellent music and dialogue. John Wick (2014) introduced a character coping with grief after the loss of his wife with one last gift from her, which was an extremely adorable beagle.After the son of a Russian boss takes away his final form of coping and steals his car. John (Keanu Reeves) goes out for revenge. While I am sure that I wasn’t the only who wasn’t “overjoyed” about that particular scene, it’s concept of pure brutality and greed helped the audience feel pity for John (Keanu Reeves) while also feeling his anger which made him a memorable and emotionally deep character.

So, first off no dog is killed in this movie. This film isn’t about John’s (Keanu Reeves) desire for revenge or even redemption, it is about the consequences of the justice he took out upon the mob. Actions, always have consequences and John’s (Keanu Reeves) attempt at retirement is halted after he is visited by an old colleague who helped him escape the life he wished to leave behind him. Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) attempts to “convince” John (Keanu Reeves) to accomplish an almost impossible task (I say “almost impossible” because anything is possible in John Wick’s case) in order to take a seat at the High Table, which regulates Continental finances and business management. Santino (Riccardo Scamarcio) tries to use a “marker”, which in the John Wick lore, is a form of a blood oath, but there are rules.

One cannot kill a marker holder, nor can he or she disregard the marker. They cannot run, nor can they object, they have no choice. After a disagreement between the two, John’s (Keanu Reeves) house is destroyed, and he realizes he has no choice but to come back the life he attempted to move on from.

The story is surprisingly very good, and it even adds more backstory the intriguing character of John Wick (Keanu Reeves). The setting changes from a variety of different and memorable locations such as the ancient roman catacombs, to art galas, even to a concert. All of which show these fantastic action shootouts and set pieces that show the pure beauty of practical action choreography.

A couple of new characters are also introduced that have some screentime but are just as entertaining as Wick himself. Some that are of note are, Ares (Ruby Rose) who is a mute security whose beauty hides her merciless enjoyment of doing what she does best. Cassian (Common) is who is also head security enforcer for a Ward (Chair Member). Now both these characters appear in just in the right moment to make each entertaining scene that much better. One character, in particular, that is also introduced is The Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne). As I am sure you know, both Keanu Reeves (John Wick) and Laurence Fishburne (John Wick) starred in the highly known Matrix trilogy. Their interaction in the film is filled with tension, but also with respect. Their chemistry on screen is entertaining but also ambiguous, and considering the high note the film ends on, I would not be surprised to see Fishburne take on the role in future installments.

Furthermore, John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017) tells a highly enjoyable story of redemption and revenge, just like it’s predecessor. The characters, set pieces, and locations are all unique and memorable.

Pros:

  • Some of the best-choreographed shootouts and fight scenes scene shown in cinema.
  • A compelling story that surpasses it’s predecessor while adding more backstory to the expanding lore of John Wick.
  • Beautiful cinematography that makes each location and shot amazing to look at.
  • Fantastic and highly commendable stunt work.
  • A great performance by Keanu Reeves who does a good job of portraying a man looking for a way to grief and forget the life he left behind.
  • Pulse pounding soundtrack that blends in perfectly within each sequence.
  • A surprisingly intriguing villain despite his simplicity.
  • Unique set pieces and locations.
  • Fantastic and memorable dialogue, there is definitely more than one memorable line in this film.
  • Surpasses both in action and story than it’s predecessor.
  • Sound design, everything packs a punch overall.

Cons:

To put it bluntly, there are none. There wasn’t a single issue I had with the film. I went in with no expectations, and came out shocked about how impressive this film was.

Final Score: 10/10

It manages its budget enough to have an all star cast and create fantastic action set pieces. Furthermore, John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017) is by far one of the best action thriller released in years. It surpasses it’s predecessor by a milestone, and has set the standard for the next entry in the John Wick trilogy.

Directed by:

Chad Stahelski

Produced by:

David Leitch

Basil Iwanyk

Erica Lee

Lionsgate

Thunder Road Pictures

87Eleven Productions

Written by:

Derek Kolstad

Based on the characters created by:

Derek Kolstad

Starring:

Keanu Reeves

Common

Laurence Fishburne

Ruby Rose

John Leguizamo

Riccardo Scamarcio

Ian McShane

Music:

Tyler Bates

Joel J. Richard

Cinematography:

Dan Lausten

Edited by:

Evan Schiff

Distributed by:

Summit Entertainment

Release Dates:

January 30th, 2017

Running Time

122 Minutes (2 hours, and 2 minutes)

Country:

United States

Budget:

$40 Million.

About the Author

Gavin Boyce
Gavin Boyce is a junior at Millbrook. Most of his time consists of writing and watching multiple classic films, such as “Apocalypse Now”, “Pulp Fiction”, and “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly”.
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