Guns. Knives. More guns. And a pencil.
If there’s one thing the original John Wick taught us, it’s that violence really can solve everything. Well, that and don’t ever kill another man’s dog (although in hindsight, that should already be obvious). Although it received very little fanfare ahead of its release, the original film, released in 2014, became a bigger hit than anyone anticipated. It was stylish, visceral, and most of all, it was fun.
And so here we are three years later, with Keanu Reeves reprising his role as the eponymous lead in John Wick: Chapter 2. After extracting vengeance for his dog and re-claiming his car, you’d think people would finally just let things be and let him retire in peace.
Alas, that’d make for an awful movie.
And so Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) re-enters Wick’s world, carrying the marker Wick gave in exchange for marrying his wife and leaving his world of crime behind. Santino asks him to complete one final job, which he persuades Wick to take after some active negotiations.
The rest of the supporting cast is solid, if not great. Ruby Rose, Laurence Fishburne, Common, and Ian McShane all have supporting roles, but it’s pretty clear this is Wick’s world – and they’re just living in it.
It’s a thin plot, sure, but I don’t think there are too many people coming into this expecting a Primer-level storyline. People want to see bang-bang and boom-boom, and this is where John Wick: Chapter 2 shines. The action and gunfights are absurd, yet gorgeously choreographed. The second half of the film sees Wick in non-stop survival mode, and it barely gives you time to breath. If the original film and the first half of JW2 are considered over-the-top, the last hour of the film uses a trebuchet and launches itself so far beyond the top you won’t come back to the ground until well after the credits roll. Keanu spent an incredible amount of time honing his craft (you can see some of his real-life efforts here), and it’s quite evident throughout.
Surprisingly, for such a violent movie, there is a solid amount of levity as well in the few moments the action dies down. John Leguizamo reprises his role as Aurelio, the chop shop owner, and is good for a few laughs in his scenes. The film also pays a rather hilarious homage to the “three pencils” line from the original film as well.
It’s not perfect, but for a mindless action flick, it comes pretty damn close. The visuals are well-done, and the accompanying soundtrack is effective. I know stereotypically these kinds of action films are meant for the male audience, but my friend I brought with me, Rebekah, absolutely loved it as well. The ending is left pretty wide open for a sequel, and I know I absolutely can’t wait.
Forget the silly rom-coms this weekend. John Wick: Chapter 2 has action, guns, violence, a dog, and romance. And by romance I mean more violence.
Be seeing you.
John Wick: Chapter 2 gets an A.