John Wick: Chapter 2
MILD SPOILERS AHEAD
“John Wick: Chapter 2“ is directed by Chad Stahelski, written by Derek Kolstad, produced by Basil Iwanyk and Erica Lee, and stars Keanu Reeves (John Wick), Common (Cassian), Ruby Rose (Ares), and Riccardo Scamarcio (Santino D’Antonio). It was distributed by Summit Entertainment on Feb. 10, 2017.
The story follows former hitman, John Wick, as he is dragged back into the criminal underground he tried to escape the last time we saw him. When an ambitious crime lord tries to force him to repay an old debt, Wick refuses and the crime lord, D’Antonio, destroys the house containing every physical remnant Wick has of his dead wife. When Wick repays the favor, D’Antonio vows vengeance on him. The rest of the movie follows Wick’s path to escape.
This sequel does what every sequel is supposed to do–up the ante. Not only does this movie do that, but it does it spectacularly. You thought John Wick was entitled to brutally decimate a lot of strangers for killing his puppy dog?Wait until you see what he does to even more strangers when a man burns down his house, lies, and backstabbs him.
The body count is larger, the stakes are higher, the sets and stunts are grander, the weapons are more plentiful, and the kills are even more brutal. Seriously, though, this movie earns its R-rating as far as violence goes.
Wick’s motivation to kill is much stronger than before. I don’t support murdering strangers (or anybody), but you just don’t go after a man’s dog, especially John Wick’s. This time, it’s about redemption. Wick tries to get out of debt and out of D’Antonio putting a massive price on his head. We see the physical and emotional toll it takes on him (even if it’s too little for some).
That’s right, John Wick may use Aimbot, but he’s not entirely invincible. We see him get shot, beat up, and even the blood, bruises, and cuts he gets along the way.
This movie also expands on the mythology of the first entry. We all thought it was super cool to see The Continental, a hotel that serves as a safe haven for assassins. This movie gives us more of that place, how it works, more mini-criminal-hideouts and gangs, and more interesting rules with which the characters interact.
In the opening, John Wick tracks down a guy that can lead him to where his stolen car is. When he gets there, IT’S ON. You’ll watch John Wick sneak around and then explosively make his presence known to spread the beat-down on the guys with his car. The part where he whips out his gun to take the big guy down is jaw-droppingly good; he had a gun the entire time but didn’t use it until he ran into someone bigger than him. It’s also nice to see that the first frame is a Buster Keaton movie being projected onto a wall. Buster Keaton is a legendary comedy actor/stuntman (in case you didn’t do your homework). It’s okay if you didn’t because the filmmakers definitely did theirs.
It’s refreshing that this movie takes place quickly after the first installment. It’s realistic that they are setting themselves in real time with their release dates. The John Wick franchise will make superb Blu-Ray binge watching on a Saturday night in a few years; this franchise is being built to last.
Another aspect worth noting: John Wick’s new dog not dying (hooray!) and the cinematography. There’s a lovely shade of blue to most of the shots, a clever shade of green when we meet Laurence Fishburn’s character, and that third-act finale with the mirrors is just stunning.
John Wick is close to indestructible and has a perfect aim, which means his enemies are most likely already doomed. “Chapter 2″ is not only a solid action movie standing close to the greats, but a really good movie overall. Let’s give this bad boy an 8.6/10, which is a B for you students out there.