JOHN WICK 2 gets 6.5/10 The Wick and The Dead

Directed by Chad Stahelski
Starring Keanu Reeves, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ian McShane

6.5/ 10

John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is back. After the events of the previous film, he attempts to bury his past again, and resume a life of peace. However, as he is presented with a “blood debt” from his past by a powerful member of one of the crime-families, Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio), Wick is again reluctantly dragged back into the world of shadowy assassins. A decision that will once again end with a mountain of mobster corpses, and Wick once more being pursued by the best hitmen money can buy.

At this stage of the game John Wick as a series is in danger of collapsing under the weight of it’s own myth building. As the world is further fleshed out, it makes less and less functional sense, despite being a fairly interesting creation in its own right. By removing more of the mystery surrounding Wick’s past and the secret cabals he has worked for, it appears more ridiculous and increasingly far fetched. Let’s face it, by the end of this film, it appears that most of New York is caught up in this conspiracy, and John initially married the only person that wasn’t.

None of this is really a deal breaker. This is a world where physics, biology, gravity, and the magazine capacity of a firearm, don’t matter a damn as long as the action looks cool. Sure Keanu is able to plough through hundreds of disposable mooks like he’s in god-mode in a first person shooter. It’s what he did with such panache in the first, little wonder he goes through even more in the second. The audiences acceptance of that is really part of the admission price, and if you can make that trade, you’re in for a fun time. There’s good reason that there is a joking speculation about the John Wick series being a stealth sequel to The Matrix. There is zero chance of that being the actual case, but the two share a certain sense of hyper-kinetic style (as well as a couple of actors).

John Wick Chapter 2 is certainly a film of style over substance, and here it delivers with some stunning visuals and action set pieces. From the beginning car-chase to the climactic showdown inside a mirrored art installation, it definitely wows. The rest of the time it seems to have it’s tongue firmly planted in its cheek. As if it’s ex-stuntman director, Chad Stehelski, is challenging you to take it seriously. Please don’t. Like a Fast And Furious film, this is best enjoyed for what it is.

Hence Reeves is the perfect man for the role. He has gained enough understanding of the action genre during his career to be filmed in extended fight sequences, making the transition between him and his stunt double less noticeable. His also usually wooden demeanour comes across here as wearied acceptance. Wick, as the nightmare of mobsters, has seen death and danger countless times before and seems inured to it. Riccardo Scamarcio, gives a satisfactory turn as a Euro-badguy straight out of the Hans Gruber Finishing School (where his major was the politics of the Borgias). Ian McShane (Deadwood), as always, is a pleasure to watch, and Ruby Rose gives a great physical performance as a mute assassin. Plus, it is worth keeping an eye out both for Peter Serafinowicz (Guardians of the Galaxy) in a small, but hilariously deadpan role, as well an appearance by another Matrix alumni.

Perhaps not the surprising short sharp shot of the original, but a highly enjoyable sequel that doubles down on the ridiculous nature of the world to bring you even more crazy action.

DAVID O’CONNELL

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