Okay, I must admit that it took me a while to finally unearth “John Wick Chapter 2” from my TBW pile and only remembered to do so when I saw the trailer for “John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum.” Still, being late to the party did not diminish my enjoyment from watching this action packed franchise that restarted Keanu Reeves’ reputation as a formidable modern day action hero back in 2014.
Synopsis: John Wick Chapter 2 picks up from the tail end of John Wick’s vendetta against the Tarasov family as he recovers his mustang from Abram, the last of the Tarasov clan. However, just as he attempts to live a quiet life anew, he is visited by an old friend, Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) who calls in John’s blood oath to him when he was just starting out as an assassin. To free him from his debt, Santino orders John to kill his sister Gianna (Claudia Gerini), a powerful member of the High Table. This sets off a series of events that makes John the target of all the hitmen in New York City in exchange of $7 million bounty. This leaves Baba Yaga (Boogeyman) with no choice but to avenge himself on the person who is behind it all.
John Wick Chapter 2 ticks all the boxes of an exciting and entertaining action movie — a charismatic underdog that audiences will be compelled to root for, amazing stunt work, explosive action scenes and well thought out choreography. The stunningly dark and graphic cinematography also lends an air of danger to the whole production that makes viewers pay attention every second.
To complete the hit, I must admit that was totally ridiculous for John Wick to carry out a low key assassination in Rome, with just about every assassin in town knowing him and his reputation. Still, it was still really fun to see John execute the hit and deal with the subsequent betrayal in rapid fire transtition from gunfight, knife fight and eventually hand to hand combat. It was beautiful to watch John take down his enemies so fluidly like it was an art form. In my review of the first John Wick movie, I must have mentioned that John is an expert in the giving people massages — with bullets and it still rings true with this sequel. This film also made ma think about the advantages and disadvantages of using a long weapon and a short weapon because there were times that John had trouble maneuvering in close combat and had to distance himself before going for the headshot. I was quite a fan of Wick’s signature move of using his body to better position himself against his target before going for the kill. It was truly a masterful and professional move.
I also loved the fact that in going after Santino, John only received one gun from the Bowery King (Lawrence Fishbourne) with seven bullets to accomplish his goal. This made audiences conscious about how many rounds he had left before he had to move on to a new henchman, kill and disarm him and resume pursuit. The limited number of ammunition made the final standoff even more exciting, what with the levelled up stakes of roomful of mirrors.
Forgive me for geeking out over the Neo X Morpheus reunion two years too late but it was one of my favorite parts of the film. I also loved Winston’s (Ian McShane) relationship with “Jonathan” which was basically one of protectiveness and friendship. Another character who has displayed a subtle loyalty to John was Charon, the hotel manager, played by Lance Reddick. Special shoutout to this character for keeping John’s dog safe. I was understandably traumatized by the puppy death in the first installment. Happy to heave a sigh of relief that John’s dog was uninjured at the end of this sequel.
All in all, kudos to director Chad Stahelski for providing the consistency in the style of these two movies. It was infinitely cool, heart pounding and amazingly fast paced. I can’t wait for Chapter 3 where the stakes are higher and all bets are off.