John Wick: Chapter 2 ★★★★

John Wick: Chapter 2 is a strong, worthy 
and considerably more playful sequel that handily ranks among the upper echelons of action cinema.  While it lacks the first entry’s surprising gravitas and scene-stealing villain, it doubles down on the creative cross-cutting, sumptuous visuals, zippy music, silly world building and winning deadpan humour (the subway speakers saying “this is the end of the line” as Wick plants a knife in a foe’s chest is a wickedly killer gag — pun shamelessly intended). Chad Stahelski’s film doesn’t have the procative artfulness of Mad Max: Fury Road or the overwhelming practical intensity of Mission: Impossible - Fallout, but doesn’t need it. The action scenes are stronger and much more consistent than those in the first film, which peaked with its instantly classic nightclub scene and failed to maintain that spark. The sequel, however, kicks off with a literal bang (set to Buster Keaton’s silent masterpiece Sherlock Jr.) and maintains that arresting propulsiveness and invention all the way through, serving up constantly dynamic collisions between bullets, cars, bodies, mirrors and everything Wick and his endless assailants can get their highly trained hands on. One of these makeshift weapons is a pencil, which is used in the only action beat that doesn’t work for me: a gratuitous bit of fan service that deflates a lot of the humour and mystique surrounding Wick’s famed proficiency with that item of stationary. Not only are these kills much nastier than the usual gunshot or knife slash, but the camera lingers on the resultant dripping brain matter with a juvenile bloodlust that makes me feel almost guilty for watching it. Every other action scene in the film is graphically violent, indeed, yet the spraying blood is merely an added touch of realism that is almost never dwelt on. Rather, the focus stays on the beautifully choreographed ballet between cast and camera, which - considering its brilliance - is exactly where it should be. 8/10 

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