John Wick: Chapter 2 ★★★½

68/100

Ranked: 2017

Is Keanu Reeves now more John Wick than he is Neo?

Perhaps such a statement is largely down to recency bias but it's a testament to Reeves that he has managed to carved out another iconic action hero some 15-20 years after his Matrix success. 2014's first film felt like a genuine breath of fresh air to the genre and whilst John Wick: Chapter 2 doesn't seek to break the mould once more, it does double-down on it's frenetic set pieces and near-mythical titular character to offer another adrenaline-fuelled delight that more than justifies its existence.

It's safe to say that the plot of this second instalment is a little light on the ground and acts more as a foundation for Wick to delve deeper into the criminal underworld that it teased at in the original film, although it's pulpy and fun enough to remain servicable throughout. There are moments that felt so over the top and ridiculous that I found myself laughing almost in disbelief; crucially though it feels like the film knows how silly it is, and as a willing participant in its crazed and elaborate story I thoroughly enjoyed the ride it took me on. It's difficult to say whether a more low-key, moodier second instalment might have served the franchise more but you have to respect the full-blooded and dedicated commitment to the direction it ended up taking and this bloodier, deadlier and more action-packed sequel certainly seeks to thrill from beginning to end.

Whilst it's far from a total success Chapter 2 certainly offers its fair share of memorable, high-intensity action sequences, and the dedication and that Reeves and the rest of the supporting cast put it to making the weaponised and hand-to-hand combat scenes feel so authentic (or as authentic as they realistically can be) really pays off here. I figured the opening scene La La Land would feature the best choreography I'd see all year but there were moments here where I felt that might be challenged; you would assume at a certain point there'd be a point of diminishing returns when it comes to thinking of new ways for John Wick to kill people but that proved not to be the case. Reeves is of course superb in these scenes and whatever else the film or future editions have to offer, there will always be a true pleasure in seeing Wick suit up and go on a revenge-fuelled rampage in such an emphatic and calculated fashion.

In many ways John Wick: Chapter 2 seems like a sequel that wasn't really needed but by not taking itself too seriously and remaining committed to beautifully staged, high octane action sequences, it does a wonderful job of providing more than its fair share of thrills and delights in its two-hour runtime. I've no clue where they're going to take the inevitable third instalment but I know for sure that I'll be there in line with my ticket when John Wick dons his famous suit once more.

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