A significant factor of a truly good action film is its plot-to-action ratio. If there’s too much dialogue, it can become a bit of a snooze-fest with everyone waiting for the inevitable fist fight between the protagonist and antagonist whilst they happily wax lyrical over the minutiae of why they are on opposite sides of whatever feud has caused the plot to happen. But take it too far in the opposite direction and you run the risk of leaving the audience utterly confused about what on earth is happening as the one man army beats, bludgeons and blasts his way through their colleagues. It’s a fine line to walk, and not every film gets it right. Sometimes though, lightning strikes and what is wrought is a pulse-pounding, ass-kicking thrill ride that pulls no punches whatsoever. Such is the case with the John Wick films.
The second chapter in this phenomenal saga lives up to its predecessor, but fails to surpass it, instead choosing to continue on from where the first film left off. Whilst it is technically a brand new film, there is some suggestion that the best way to watch this series would be in one long screening to get the full impact of the story. There is nothing wrong with this style of watching things (Netflix is built around that very concept) but it does leave you feeling a little unfulfilled after you have finished watching this film.
If you haven’t seen the first instalment of this franchise yet, do so now, for to enter into the second without any exposition on the opening sequence and what happens thereafter is tantamount to insanity. But if you insist, here’s the rundown: After his wife dies, former mob-hitman John Wick (Keanu Reeves) gets a dog to cope with the loneliness. Unfortunately, one day he meets some members of the Russian Mafia who decide to steal his car and kill his dog in the process. This causes Wick to come out of retirement and wreak vengeance upon the poor fools.
Chapter 2 looks into Wick’s past, and explains how he was able to escape the life of crime as he returns to complete a favour for one of the heads of a crime family.
Regardless of how great the fight scenes are (and they are fantastic!) a film sinks or swims on the talent of its actors. Talent which John Wick shows in spades. Reeves himself is once again on top form (and surprisingly spry for his 52 years of age) as the titular Wick and he is joined by such cinematic powerhouses as Peter Stormare, Ian McShane and Lance Reddick, along with Ruby Rose as a mute bodyguard and Laurence Fishburne as the leader of an army of vagrants. Despite having a relatively small amount of screen time together, it is an utter joy to see Reeves and Fishburne together again after The Matrix Trilogy, with plenty of subtle nods to the series that is sure to elicit many chuckles of mirth from any audience member who recalls the films, and one suspects that similar guffaws were had during the shooting of those scenes.
Despite the above claims that John Wick Chapter Two doesn’t quite live up to its first outing, it comes practically within touching distance of the original. The story flows with ease, transitioning from balls to the wall action and fight sequences to quieter moments at the drop of a hat, and also manages to fit in possibly the most sedate gun battle in the history of cinema. There is plenty for everyone to enjoy, and you will leave champing at the bit for the final film in the trilogy!
John Wick: Chapter 2 is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now!