John Wick: Chapter 2
by Manuel Reynoso
4 Palm Trees out of 4
Directed by Chad Stahelski and written by Derek Kolstad and stars Keanu Reeves, Common, Laurence Fishburne, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ruby Rose, John Leguizamo and Ian McShane
Shortly following the events of the first film, John Wick finds himself being violently thrusted back into the life of crime and assassins he sought to leave.
John Wick: Chapter 2 is real fun. And if I could, I would pack it up and call this review done right then and there. But, I have a job to do. So bear with me if this review comes off as a little gushy, but it’s important to express how refreshing a well written story that only seeks to be entertaining and fun really is.
Chad Stahelski directing style really synergizes well with action movies. His attention to detail and his ability to trim out any unneeded fat from the film is what differentiates the John Wick series from the rest of the generic action flicks. There are no “funny” quips or unneeded dialogue in this movie. John Wick dares to tell a story through visuals instead of exposition, I know, who would have thought movies can tell it’s story through actions and visuals? But Stahelski understands this. His decision to completely cut out Ruby Rose’s spoken dialogue was a clear risk, but instead of the generic sexy female antagonist, we got a far more nuanced character. Limited to only sign language, expression and action was where we learned the most about the inner workings of this character.
And a lack of dialogue isn’t just a gimmick for Ruby Rose’s Character, but is a rule that encompasses most of the films cast. We aren’t forced to see the plot move with static dialogue, we are shown the plot move along. John actions have consequences, and they are bloody, and explosive to see. The gun choreography is also some of the best I’ve ever seen. For a two hour movie mostly consisting of gun play, it was varied and creative enough to keep the film from becoming a drag at any point. The attention to detail in Keanu Reeve’s ability to quickly and methodically reload his gun was as entertaining as the gun fights themselves. The hand to hand combat did not disappoint either. While there was some shaky camera work and jump cuts to occasionally mask some lack of contact being made, most of the sparring was painfully real. As actor Common would described, he would wake up the next morning after filming with Keanu completely sore and covered with bruises.
It was this type of dedication to the art of fighting that really makes John Wick the great action series of our time. Keanu Reeves loves to make action movies, and he puts his heart and soul into this character. In various interviews, Keanu recounts taking punches time and time again from fellow actors to get the shots as perfect as he possibly can. Keanu Reeves is John, and it’s just so refreshing to see an actor take on a persona that resonates so passionately with him.
However, John is just one character in this world of crime and assassins, and that where the cleverness of the screenplay comes in. Derek Kolstad’s screenplay made the world of John Wick its own living, breathing character. Seeing how John interacts with the world gives fascinating insight on how the world of assassins operate. We see the power dynamics, economy, distribution of information, and even things as mundane as where the assassins get there suits over the course of the film. None of it feels shoehorned in either. It’s a world that is as believable as it is over the top, but most importantly, it’s just a fun world to be a part of for a short two hours. We can all use a break from serious commentary from time to time. If you’re just looking to have a fun time for an evening, see John Wick: Chapter 2 and do enjoy your stay. 122 minutes Rated R