STARRING: Keanu Reeves, Riccardo Scamarcio, Common, Laurence Fishburne, Ruby Rose, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane, Bridget Moynahan, Lance Reddick, Thomas Sadoski, Peter Stormare, Franco Nero, Peter Serafinowicz and Claudia Gerini
After returning to the criminal underworld to repay a debt, John Wick discovers that a large bounty has been put on his life.
Not long after the events of the first film, former assassin John Wick is visited by Italian crime lord Santino D’Antonio looking to reclaim a debt owed to him. In the past as a form of contract, D’Antonio swore John to a Marker, an unbreakable promised symbolised by a blood oath medallion. Here, D’Antonio presents the medallion to demand John’s services, bringing him back out of retirement to repay his debt.
2014’s John Wick was a pleasant cinematic experience. Now comes the next instalment which takes place almost immediately after the events of the first film, with Wick tying up lose ends before he’s immediately pulled back out of retirement from an old face from his past and is forced to repay a debt to Italian crime boss Santino D’Antonio.
Once again for me Keanu Reeves does a terrific job in the action sequences, from the hand-to-hand combat to the so called gun-fu exploits, he still gives it everything in terms of what an action star should give. I also liked how the sequel expanded upon the mythology of the Continental and also mentioning a new establishment in the High Table, though in this instalment it’s only mentioned by name. In terms of supporting cast, Ian McShane once again gives a reliable performance as Winston the owner of the Continental Hotel in New York, Riccardo Scamarcio I thought was decent in the villain role of this instalment and the biggest surprise for me was Common as Cassian, not for his acting ability as he’s been giving solid performances for a while now (see Hell on Wheels), but for his action scenes with Keanu Reeves is what impressed me the most from him here and makes me more interested now for his action-revenge film Quick Draw. The action sequences as a whole are well choreographed and mostly worked for me, with one particular callback to a line about Wick killing a couple of guys with a pencil being brought to life in one scene here which is gloriously graphic to rival The Joker’s pencil trick in The Dark Knight for memorable usage of a pencil. I will say I did like how the film ended but will not go into further detail on that front.
While I enjoyed the deeper mythology of the Continental and seeing John Wick returning to his headshotting ways, the action and death count did get a bit too much for me. Before we reach the halfway point of the film there’s an action sequence in the tunnel where I’m pretty sure John kills about fifty men and while the sequel amps up more action, it results in a much bigger body count from the original and unfortunately for me it started to become stale and dampen the viewing experience for me. The film definitely feels like they tried too much as it switches for the second half of the film with Wick being hunted by literally every assassin in the country, that just happens to be in the city of New York, as a bounty is placed on him as Santino wants to get rid of the final loose end. I was also disappointed that Laurence Fishburne’s appearance in the film ended up being more than a glorified cameo.
While the action sequences are solid, particularly in the final act, John Wick: Chapter 2 goes all out in being bigger than the original and yet for me it misses the spark that made the original enjoyable. Keanu Reeves kills it in the action sequences, the Continental mythology is still intriguing to me but the script is weak when it comes to the dialogue, even though the film still feels like a 90’s action throwback in that regard. 5/10