John Wick: Chapter 2 ★★★★½

Here was my train of thought right before John Wick: Chapter 2 started.....

“Please don't kill the dog”
“Please don't kill the dog”
“Please don't kill the dog”

John Wick: Chapter 2 is also directed by Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, and this chapter is pretty much John Wick having the day from hell. It opens with John Wick finally getting his car back, which ends up getting pretty beat up in an intense action sequence. He returns home and he's forced back out of retirement, bound by a blood oath, by a man seeking to seize control of the international assassins guild. John Wick ends up in Rome with some of the worlds deadliest assassins after him. Bullets fly, asses are kicked and pencils are scary.... friggin' pencils :).

I think what I loved most about John Wick: Chapter 2 was the way it expands on the world building. The rules and codes these people live by are just fascinating and it ends up becoming one of the most charming, humorous and original aspects of the film. One of my favourite performances in the film was from Hip-Hop artist Common as Cassian, who ends up with a grudge against John Wick, where in nearly every scene they are trying to kill each other.... all but one. There is a scene where they are in a hotel room where they crash into a Continental Hotel, where they are forbidden to fight each other and it ends up with a particular scene in a bar where they reluctantly drink together and they find out more about each other. It's funny, intense, and it's a really creative way to break away from the action.

I loved Ian McShane's performance in this as Winston. He reprises his role the Continental Hotel owner in New York. You find out a lot more about his character in this one as he finds himself in the middle of the feud between John Wick and the villain of the film Santino (more on him later), he starts to become one of the most mysterious and intriguing character of the whole film. I thought Ruby Rose was fun to watch as a mute femme fatale as well as her interactions with John Wick. Plus Laurence Fishburne is in this as an underground crime lord who was almost killed once by John Wick. It made me wonder if there's gonna be a twist where all of this is actually gonna be a figment of Neo's imagination, and we're in the Matrix again :D. In all seriousness though I thought he was great in the film and while he's only there for a few scenes, there's enough there where I'm curious to see where things will go with his character in the inevitable sequel.

The action here is just as strong and as fluid as it was in the first film. There's still plenty of tension to those scenes with little to no shaky-cam to be seen, with very real and painful looking stunts, and it's creative with them finally delivering on a brutal scene involving a pencil. Looking back this film has a much stronger finish than the first, as the first does kinda tail off a bit. Here it has you at the edge of your seat right to the very end and despite an ending that is an obvious set-up for John Wick: Chapter 3, I was still very satisfied with it and it's the kind of ending that left me wanting more.

It also retains the sleek looking visual style the first one had, especially when it comes to the way the scenes are lit and this one also has an homage to a classic. While the first had an awesome scene that was a call back to Collateral, Chapter 2 has a wonderful sequence very similar in the visual style to the 'Hall of Mirrors' scene from Enter The Dragon. It is definitely one of my favourite sequences in the whole film as it is very creative with the way it uses the mirrors in that scene and it is just one of the most beautiful looking scenes in the whole movie.

Of course how could I forget about Keanu Reeves? His performance is very much the same in this one as it was in the first, with him often feeling like he is a blank slate. He has little amounts of dialogue and kicks a lot of ass in this one. In my opinion though, he is perfect in roles like this.

I don't think this movie was perfect though, and while I do think the action and world-building is overall stranger than the first, I found the set-up and the way it sets off the chain of events to be much weaker than the first film. The first one put John Wick at his most vulnerable and while it was much more straight forward, I just found it much more emotionally investing. Here, I never once at any point felt like he was vulnerable or was in danger of getting killed or had some kind of emotional conflict or anything.

The villain in this is also a massive step down from the one in the first as Riccardi Scamario's performance comes off as just so petulant. He's just this generic annoying bad guy that's just after power and there's not really anything else to him.

Overall though, John Wick: Chapter 2 is an example of a sequel done right and I had a lot of fun watching it in theatres. As an action movie it is simply a spectacle from start-to-finish. Recommended :)

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