Monday, December 18, 2017

Film Review—John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

John Wick: Chapter 2 (Review)
United States/2017
Format Viewed for Review: HBO Now
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"Although it isn't perfect, it fixes some issues from the first film while continuing to deliver some incredible action set pieces."

John Wick (Keanu Reeves) returns to the criminal underworld to complete one last favor, but he soon finds himself with a large bounty on his head.

John Wick: Chapter 2 follows the titular character in another story of assassination and vengeance. The plot picks up where the first film left off. John Wick tracks his stolen car to a gang of Russian thugs lead by Abram Tarasov, brother of Viggo and uncle of Iosef. After dealing with them and finding peace, John returns home. Before he can settle down, Italian crime lord Santino D'Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) shows up at John's door. Santino wants John to do 'the impossible' in order to complete their blood oath. Although John initially rejects, he's eventually forced to return to his old ways—again. He sets out to finish his final job, but then he finds himself with a bounty on his head. What follows is plenty of close-quarter-combat and shootouts. It leads to a great climax and a good ending.

John Wick: Chapter 2 is more of the same. The plot is a little more complex than the story in the first film, creating a more elaborate tale of betrayal and vengeance while also continuing to build its criminal underworld. It started off a bit disjointed and the first act of the film can feel somewhat 'lost,' for lack of a better term, but it eventually settles and moves at a smooth, uninterrupted pace. If you were a fan of the first film's action sequences, there's more here. The scale hasn't increased as much as expected, but the action is still incredible. It has plenty of close-quarter-combat, shootouts, and chase scenes. The gun fu is glorious. The second and third acts are filled with action, too. It still doesn't top an action masterpiece like The Raid 2 or Hard Boiled, but it's up there.

Keanu Reeves returns to play the titular character. As I stated in my review of the previous film, Reeves is perfect in this role. Laurence Fishburne was also great, although his screen time is limited. There aren't many great supporting roles this time around, though. Some of the music was great, some of it was forgettable. It just didn't blend well with the movie at times. The cinematography, camerawork, and choreography were perfectly synchronized, though—fantastic stuff. The film was directed by Chad Stahelski and written by Derek Kolstad. Although the film had a rough start—not a bad one, just rough—I thought the writing and direction were fine. I think Kolstad improved in some areas, too, as he avoided a lot of plot contrivances this time around.

Overall, John Wick Chapter 2 was a fantastic experience. It is a fast-paced, action-packed gun fu extravaganza. Although it isn't perfect, it fixes some issues from the first film while continuing to deliver some incredible action set pieces. Hopefully, after learning from some of the minor mistakes in this film, we can get a true action masterpiece with Chapter 3. I'm looking forward to it.

Score: 9/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood.

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