Review by J.T. Johnson
DIRECTOR: Chad Stahelski
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Dan Lausten
WRITER: Derek Kolstad
MUSIC: Tyler Bates, Joel J. Richard
In 2014, “John Wick” became a sleeper hit with audiences. It did average business at the box office, but it truly found life and its audience on home video. The movie was also considered by critics to be a comeback for Keanu Reeves and re-established him as a more than capable action movie star. For these reasons, it really came as no surprise that a sequel would be made.
It is especially unsurprising when considering that the first film set up a pretty cool underground world of assassins living in secret among us. “John Wick: Chapter 2” is set shortly after the events of the first movie and it not only brings the action, but it also expands upon the underground world, represented by the Continental and its leader, Winston (Ian McShane). After tying up a loose end related to the first film, John decides to settle back down into his retirement.
Unfortunately, a man named Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) comes knocking on his door. As it turns out, John owes him a blood debt for something that Santino did for him years ago. In order to pay that debt, Santino wants his sister killed so that Santino can take her seat in a powerful criminal organization.
Initially, John tries to back out of it and Santino blows up John’s house as a result. While John would like to simply kill Santino, his hands are tied. Winston informs John that the blood oath must be obeyed and therefore John has to take the job.
This, of course, snowballs into a series of events that ends up with John fighting a lot of people and shooting them in the face. The fight choreography and the gun fu is on point and just as good as what was found in the original film. A shootout in underground tunnels and a fight between Reeves and Common’s Cassian character are just highlights in a film that rarely lets up on the crazy set pieces once it gets started.
After the opening scene, I will admit that the movie does slow down to a crawl for a moment, but only to set up what John will be facing this time around. It was fun to see the writers expand upon how the rules at the Continental work both where John lives and abroad. The movie also gave us more of McShane’s Winston and that could never be a bad thing.
I can’t really find too much to complain about with a film that pretty much gave me everything I wanted from it. In this case, “Chapter 2” gave me more action, more guns, more everything and thankfully it builds upon what the first movie started. I can say that I do like the original film a little bit more than this one, but I think that is mostly due to the surprise impact that original movie had on me in the first place.
This sequel is more than a worthy follow-up to its predecessor. Also, the movie pretty much sets up that there will be a third film in the series. In a world where I have to put up with several “Fast and Furious” and “Tranformers” sequels, I’ll take as many chapters of “John Wick” as I can get if they keep up the great work they’ve done so far.