John Wick: Chapter 2 ★★★★½

The first John Wick (2014) was a surprise hit, establishing Chad Stahelski and (an uncredited) David Leitch as filmmakers to watch. The former stuntmen transformed a generic screenplay, about mobsters unintentionally drawing the wrath of the world’s greatest assassin after killing his dog, into a modern action masterpiece. They developed this thin premise by elaborating on an underworld of assassins, who live by an ethical code and are part of a secret society with traditions and rules. But the real breakthrough was steering action cinema away from the furious editing style favoured since The Bourne Supremacy (2004), and instead making sure the choreography was captured in relatively static shots which allow audiences to soak up the violence and appreciate spatial awareness.

Making $88 million from a $30 million budget, it’s little wonder a sequel was ordered, and the aim with John Wick: Chapter 2 (hereafter John Wick 2) was to go bigger, bloodier, and better. There was a risk of a Taken 2-style situation arising, with filmmakers struggling to capture lightning in a bottle twice, but returning director Chad Stahelski doesn’t put a foot wrong. John Wick 2 isn’t a lazy attempt to repeat what worked before, with more money, but a direct continuation of “Chapter 1" that takes us deeper into the mysterious world of assassins.

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