2016 – USA
Director: Chad Stahelski
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ian McShane, Lawrence Fishburne, Ruby Rose, Common
Words: Saul Nix
The sleeper-hit action film John Wick has a sequel and the burning question on the minds of its many fans is whether or not it’ll take the Hindenburg-esque plunge other action franchises have in recent years *cough* Taken *cough*.
Well, John’s back with his own patented brand of kick-assery that we all know and love but this time we’re taken deeper into the assassin underworld we glimpsed in the first film. The gothic aesthetic and idiosyncrasies have been amplified to send Chapter 2 further down the path it was set on at the end of its predecessor, coming into its own instead of just standing out from its contemporaries as a superior of its genre.
Wick’s out for revenge again but this time it’s not for his car or dog (which is unharmed this time, relax) but for his house and the peace that is shattered when a favour owed a long time ago is called in.
It’s the general… “Wick-ness” that keeps this sequel feeling fresh: The signature fighting style; the tattooed denizens of the assassin community; the gothic overtures; the black, deadpan humour. By the time Reeves despatches his fourth batch of about thirty bad guys without breaking a sweat it starts feeling a bit tired and you wonder why the baddies don’t just give up and take their CVs to the job centre, where they’re less likely to have a pencil rammed into their cerebellums. At least try something other than shooting him because it didn’t seem to work too well for the 678 people who tried before you. Still, it’s undeniably mindless entertainment watching 52 year-old Reeves murder countless henchmen in new and innovative ways. The most impressive choreography is in the ongoing feud between Wick and Cassian (Common) who looks to avenge his boss’ death at Wick’s hand.
The character of Wick is still as charismatic as a sodden flannel and it hasn’t really mattered before. We don’t want nor expect Oscar-worthy monologues from Reeves between homicides but it’d be nice for him to become a bit more human before the action – whilst entertaining enough for two films – becomes boring and monotonous come the third, inevitable film, as it almost threatens to do here.
It’s a worthy sequel and John Wick’s seat on the action hero Olympus alongside icons such as John McClane, James Bond and Rambo is all but assured. We’re just worried that all the best parts of John Wick are what will be its undoing in the third instalment.
It’s better than every generic action film that gets churned out on a weekly basis. This is John Wick after all. So yeah, we’re thinkin’ he’s back.