John Wick: Chapter 2 ★★★★★

Back in 2014, John Wick breathed an air of freshness into the Hollywood action category after the industry hadn't produced a single memorable action flick in years. Everything about that action thriller was downright invigorating, plus it oozed with so much style, charisma & energy that every action aficionado embraced it with open arms, not to mention that it marked a welcome return to form for Keanu Reeves and revitalised his career as well.

John Wick: Chapter 2 continues the relentless journey of the eponymous assassin as he ties up all the loose ends and settles all disputes that were put into motion in the first film and returns home, back to his retired life. But his violent history catches up with him once again when Wick is visited by an Italian crime lord who asks for his services but when John refuses to repay the debt he owes him, his house is blown to bits, thus forcing him to return to the world he left behind.

Directed by Chad Stahelski, this second chapter opens with a sequence that may as well qualify as an epilogue of the last film. Stahelski capitalises on the solid platform provided by its predecessor and sets up the premise real quick, and then launches an all-out assault on the senses by throwing one sumptuously choreographed action sequence after another which seamlessly weave in-n-out of the drama, and he keeps escalating the stakes before wrapping it all up on a memorable high.

Written by Derek Kolstad, the plot outline has a very simple structure but the otherworldly setting that was envisioned from scratch previously & played a vital role in imbuing a sense of uniqueness to its world is exquisitely detailed in this sequel. It also offers a deeper insight into the strict codes that's followed in the criminal underworld, the privileges its members are granted access to, and a couple of unbreakable rules. Also magnified is the aura of the man, the myth & the legend John Wick and in a full-fledged manner, we get to see why he's so feared by everyone.

The technical aspects showcase massive improvements in the minutest of areas, which gives this picture a heavily refined look & feel. Production design team chips in with meticulously detailed & gorgeously rendered set pieces that add to its distinctive iconography. Cinematography was a key highlight of its predecessor, capturing all its action in clear, concise & poetic fashion. And it's even better in this sequel, for the images retain their sharpness & clarity despite the aggressive operation of the camera and are further uplifted by its neon lighting & vibrant colour tones.

Its expertly staged, ingeniously choreographed & precisely photographed gun-fu sequences are even more evolved, more barbaric & more breathtaking when compared to the original. Editing is tight and paces its 122 minutes story at breakneck speed. Costume design stands out again with its sleek & stylish attires, Visual & Sound effects work in perfect harmony and greatly amplify the desired effect of several moments, while both Tyler Bates & Joel J. Richard intensify the overall experience by contributing with another dynamic score.

Coming to the performances, John Wick: Chapter 2 is Keanu Reeves' show all the way as the 52- year old veteran once again steals every single moment with the role he was born to play, and his swashbuckling performance in this instalment is even better than his last outing. The role is physically more intense than last time, however, Reeves is able to fill the shoes with startling ease, utilises his charismatic on-screen flair to perfection, and illustrates his Boogeyman persona with unerring discipline. The supporting cast, both new & reprising, contribute in with fabulous inputs amongst whom Ian McShane impresses the most.

On an overall scale, John Wick: Chapter 2 is such an exceptional upgrade over its predecessor that it decimates the original in all filmmaking departments with relative ease and effortlessly exceeds all hype & expectations to cement its spot amongst the greatest sequels & action extravaganzas of all time. An insanely slick, smart, sophisticated & stunning fusion of ingenious direction, astounding action, excellent writing, outstanding camerawork, tight editing & faultless score that's steered by Keanu Reeves' stellar show, this latest chapter in the John Wick saga is a brutal, barbaric & breathtaking entry that's crafted with passion, narrated with confidence & executed with flamboyance, and is an action masterpiece for the ages. One hundred percent recommended.

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