Review: John Wick: Chapter Two
John Wick was not the kind of film that needed a sequel. He’s a retired hitman, his wife dies, she leaves him a dog, the dog gets killed, he wants revenge. Cool. Simple. Easy.
John Wick: Chapter Two begins what feels like maybe a week after the end of the first movie. John is called back into service by a “marker” from an old acquaintance, which compels him to do one final job under penalty of death. Reluctantly, he returns to the business once more.
Something that is pretty interesting is the world that gets explored a little more than it did in the first. We learn more about this mysterious organisation which accepts and distributes assassination contracts to its members. The markers didn’t appear in the first film, and neither did specialist shopkeepers who appear to exist only to equip and cater to these professionals. It also seems to be an almost-socialist operation, as they exchange gold coins for services, regardless of what that service may be. A single coin can get you two drinks or a suite at a hotel. In the first film it buys a man a hotel room and a body-cleanup. It appears that everyone scratches each other’s back, and a token is given in exchange for a service. The coins themselves seem to be worth “one favour”, rather than carrying any intrinsic value.
Keanu Reeves does a great job playing Wick, who is a man of few words. He appears to do many of his own stunts and fight-choreography, too, and that was great. Riccardo Scamarcio is believable and enjoyable as Santino D’Antonio (the old friend that calls in Wick’s favour), though of course doesn’t quite fill the shoes of the last film’s Michael Nyqvist (who could?).
As action films go, it’s also very good. It’s more of the same, but in the best possible way, and you have a great time watching the filmmakers come up with lots of exciting new ways to shoot bad guys at close range. There are a couple of regrettable moments where the bad guys decide to attack Wick one at a time, while the others watch and twiddle their thumbs before taking their turn, which felt a little artificial, but for the most part it really is incredible how unrelenting the violence is. It goes on for so long while remaining exciting. After five or six minutes of nonstop action without a break, you still just do not get bored, which I find incredible.
Part of this obviously lies in the editing, which is fantastic. At one point Wick is attacked by three assassins in a row, but we watch all three attacks at the same time, cutting between them. It’s very well done. What did annoy me (and the first film did this, too) are the film’s obnoxious subtitles. Often, one word in a sentence will be a different colour for no good reason. It’s pretentious and distracting, and it takes away from the scene.
It’s a fun film. It’s not quite as good as the first, but it was still a pleasure to watch. I would think they’ll do at least one more film to bring it to a trilogy, and while I look forward to that, I can’t see it improving in quality. The first John Wick didn’t need a sequel, and this movie needs one even less.
… But I do wish we would’ve seen a wrap-up or pay-off to Cassian’s storyline.