John Wick: Chapter 2

John Wick: Chapter 2 ★★★★½

This movie is a gift. A gift to those who didn't believe that we could actually see a sequel, especially a a decent one, of the astonishing action thriller that brought Keanu Reeves back to stardom in another of his already iconic characters. And a gift also for those who were surprised and had a flood of fun and excitement with its silly and fun original movie, which here delivers a sequel nothing less than perfect.

First of all, it fulfills the obligatory job of a (good) sequel, which is to expand its (rich) already established universe and increase the challenges of its protagonist, but never forgeting to develop it. Where, despite not having the simple and very efficient premise of its first film, which easily gained the empathy of its audience, he manages to create in its truly pretentious (but also efficient) premise of the sins of the past returning to haunt his protagonist, a search for survival and life, something that connects strongly with the ultra-cheesy and thrilling end of the first film, where John Wick had been looking for the happiness he thought he had lost and here he struggles for life that he has learned to value (oh look at this, a heavy testosterone fest action movie that manages to create another cheesy plot but with an engaging subtext in its complex character, these guys are geniuses).

As while in the first movie we had its protagonist returning to his old universe of assassins in the name of revenge, here he is forced to return and be completely swallowed by it, without a possible escape out. Which leads exactly to its creators to elevate the scope of the universe of its character in, perhaps grandiloquent levels, but always cohesive to the narrative in which it proposes to John Wick's journey here. Where Derek Kolstad's script once again surprises in creating unique rules and characteristics in the molds of its vast universe established in the first film, but here he follows a really more focused and dramatic path in the story (kind of copying the formula of The Raid 2 hum?!).

And this becomes even clearer with the direction of Chad Stahelski that even without his partner David Leitch of the first film, it maintains (and elevates) the energy and aura of it, and creates here a true dramatic action film with artistic flair thanks to the stunning visual style of Dan Laustsen's cinematography with a luxurious and abundant use of colors. Still giving an elegance worthy of a 007 flick, by putting the plot on an international level, and containing a dark cynicism worthy of a Western-Spaghetti, noticeable in the confrontations and stand-offs that John Wick faces with some of his rivals here, especially a great participation of Common (the presence of Franco Nero here is not a mere reference). And the action is only a pure delight of quality, where every punch, shot and blow is felt and the explosions of blood come to frighten at the same time that inevitably amuse with so much escapist brutality almost never gratuitous, and not a single moment of it is lost or seems confused with a more than efficient direction doing action with a real dedication and care.

And Keanu Reeves only proves yet again how perfect he is for this role, with his minimal dialogues reminiscent of the man with no nome from a Sergio Leone movie, and killing waves after waves of henchmen, using his firearms as lethal samurai swords. Perhaps Riccardo Scamarcio isn't a charismatic or intimidating villain, but the actor has a charm and air of disgust able to make the public feel repulsion and hope for his death. But of bonus we have a brief but (always) superb Laurence Fishburne having too much fun in the role, yealing and shouting like a perfect mobster from a blackxploitation film.

In the end, "John Wick" just proves yet again as a character and as a film (and possible franchise) how much originality and high quality we can still find and have in the action genre, with elements that can certainly sound stupid and ridiculous, but which are made with such care and guarantee fun and excitement always truethful, and leave us desirous for much more that might (will) come.

Raphael Georg liked these reviews