John Wick is the type of action hero that cinema needs and deserves, which was demonstrated superbly in the original John Wick film.
John Wick Chapter 2 solidifies this idea and provides a new standard of high-octane, gripping, gut-punching action. Any action film aims to create hair-raising thrills and blood-pumping combat scenes, though many feel flat and flashy. The world of John Wick however, creates a whole new meaning of adrenaline, hitting you in the face and dragging you in, not letting go until the final credits.
John Wick Chapter 2 is set shortly after the events of the last film, just as John (Keanu Reeves) tracks down his Mustang’s whereabouts and gains it back via his usual persuasion. Now that John is back in the game, Italian crime lord Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) comes to visit and asks for a favour, to which John must oblige due to a blood oath he took years before. John’s defiant refusal, and D’Antonio’s retaliation through a house fire, result in John begrudgingly accepting the mission: kill D’Antonio’s powerful sister, Gianna (Claudia Gerini).
Every element in Chapter 2 has the sense of a particular unique quality that makes the film so exceptional; and that is the smooth, sleek, bloody, and violent style fused with an exciting, giddy 80s tone of badassery. It takes the best aspects of every decade of action and blends them together to create a cyborg of almighty proportions.
Reeves continues to prove the best choice for John Wick’s cool and ruthless demeanour, and the insane amount of training put in to create these films is shown clearly yet again. The level of artistry, from the martial arts in his fight scenes to his handling of weapons and cars, is remarkable. Every sequence was grounded in reality, every punch and shot is heard, sensed, and felt, and never are the scenes perceived to be set up to create an illusion; everything unfolds on the screen as if it’s happening in the room.
One of the original film’s highlights, aside from the plot and action, was the cinematography and use of light, particularly in combat scenes. Chapter 2 amps this up and, supported by stunning locale, creates breath-taking shots and sequences; something which, in other action films, is so often neglected for blink-and-you’ll-miss-it editing.
John Wick kicks into gear a new breed of action films: modern and sleek, but gritty and authentic; not to mention the flat-out, no bars held violence reminiscent of Tarantino. The original film became a cult hit and a similar situation may transpire with the sequel due to John Wick’s name not quite reaching the recognition of James Bond or Jason Bourne. But those who are lucky enough to share a room with him this time round will not think about anything else once they leave; checking their bodies for scratches or splashes of blood, feeling like they’ve just made a narrow escape from the hands of the coolest, smoothest, most ruthless hitman in modern cinema.
John Wick: Chapter 2 hits cinemas February 17th