John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

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John Wick Chapter 2 (2017) 


Directed by Chad Stahelski  • Written by David Kolstad


With Keanu Reeves, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ian McShane, Ruby Rose, Common, John Leguizamo and Laurence Fishburne


It’s fair to say that 2014’s John Wick took more than few people by surprise. Chad Stahelski’s rapid fire revenge tale of a pissed-off assassin out to avenge his dead puppy wasn’t afraid to poke fun at its own absurdity, helping it stand out from its peers while gaining almost instantaneous cult appeal in the process. Stahelski returns to helm John Wick 2, working again with writer, David Kolstad, and star Keanu Reeves, to deliver a rip-roaring sequel of dazzlingly choreographed violence and nod-wink humour.

We pick up with JW shortly after the events of the first movie, cutting to the action as he brutally dispatches a warehouse of bad guys to reclaim his stolen car. It serves as a firm reminder of the overall tone, quick to re-establish and go one further in its portrayal of an underlying sense of self-deprecation that identifies it as film clear in its intentions to give us a good time, without the distraction of the kind of distorted political subtext we’re fed by the likes of Olympus/London Has Fallen. Before Wick gets chance to put his feet up and enjoy retirement, he’s drawn back into action thanks to a years-old blood oath. Off to Rome he goes to finally settle the score. If only it was that simple.

Everyone involved seems to enjoy their part of the gag, fronted once again by Reeves, who continues his monosyllabic turn between impressive bouts of heightened gun-play and hand-to-hand combat. As a shadowy overseer, the presence of Ian McShane contributes much to a playfully enigmatic underworld of assassins, which extends itself much further this time.

While the choreography of the action is breathtaking to behold, it’s often apparent our exhilaration doesn’t entirely stem from the suspense of the scenes – more a marvel at the organised chaos on show as Wick goes full-sugar Rambo in gunning down an endless production line of brainless henchmen, all seemingly happy to take turns in running directly into his line of fire. Without the wry tone that underpins everything, they wouldn’t get half as much license to indulge themselves in this way.

There’s little in John Wick 2 that we didn’t get in the previous offering, but there’s a lot more of the same, played with understanding by those involved. There’s a glitch in the matrix when Laurence Fishburne shows up for around 15-minutes to spout some wisdom, which slows the pace and plays like an unwanted Neo/Morpheous reunion. Also, the plot goes bonkers at the end and threatens to boil over, yet that carefully woven sense of fun keeps it afloat as the promise of a third chapter looms.

3.5/5

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About garethrhodes

Full-time lover of all things creative.
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4 Responses to John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

  1. jimbelton says:

    This one fell flat for me. After having such a great villain in the first film, the villains of the sequel seemed very weak, just set up for Wick to knock over. I thought they would do more with Fishburn. McShane, while pulling off a great minor character in the first film, underperformed in his larger role.

    • garethrhodes says:

      Sorry to hear that, Jim. Preconceptions play a large role in the overall experience, and given the overarching daftness of the previous outing, I was happy for more(ish) of the same. I take your point about the baddie, though. The antagonists are video game level. Fishburne’s role was pointless and uninspired. Just fell flat and did nothing that I can remember. Felt like I was watching The Matrix 3 while he was onscreen – not a good reminder. That said, I liked the irony and the gun-fu.

  2. Chris Evans says:

    Hey Gareth, how’s it going? I really enjoyed the first John Wick and yet to see Chapter 2 so I’ll be sure to go in with realistic expectations – great review!

    • garethrhodes says:

      Hi Chris, great to hear from you again. I’m fine thank you, not been clocking up as many film hours as I’d normally like, but I guess it’s good for the vitamin D levels to leave the movie theater once in a while. I didn’t quite enjoy this one as much as the first, but it’s still marvelous in terms of action, gun-play and nod-wink irony.

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