John Wick: Chapter Two. A Cinematic Review.

Rating — 4/5 Stars

Keanu Reeves on the Red Carpet shortly after the release of the first film. Source: Anna Hanks Flickr. Creative Commons:

In 2014, John Wick’s car was stolen and his puppy Daisy was murdered, he then went on to kill around hundred people. You’d think that would be enough for him, but it appears it wasn’t. He’s got a new dog and he’s back for more.

The action thriller John Wick: Chapter 2 starts with a high speed car chase around New York City and it starts as it continues with fast paced scenes full of visually aesthetic fights.

Keanu Reeves plays the title character. John, a retired assassin, still emotionally broken from the death of his wife Helen before the original film. In a recent interview with The Lad Bible, the Matrix star stated the role was written for a much older actor, but it appears the producers made the right choice.

Reeves gives a really dark performance, like the ones he is now famous for, with his character spending much of the film having to get revenge. Indeed Reeves, now 51, looks perfect for the role. Dressed in a smart black suit, he has long hair and a neat beard whilst walking around with a facial expression that shows anger, deep thought and determination. He looks like he means business and he’s seen the depths of the human soul. Reeves has a relatively small amount of lines for a protagonist and this adds to the effect — he has a job to do, and increases the excitement.

He however owes Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) a favour. John has to murder D’Antonio’s sister (Claudia Gerini). After he does this however, John is told he is a “loose end” and Santino even goes as far as ironically claiming “I need to get revenge for the murder of my sister”. A bounty of $7,000,000 is placed on the head of Wick. With his retirement ruined, he wants revenge.

The fight scenes are fast and quick, though a tad unrealistic at times. For example, there’s a scene where Wick murders two men in a bar with a pencil. In addition, he gets run over by cars on at least five occasions and when attacked by a group of Russian mobsters, he waits for the sixth attacker before he uses his gun. Having said that Taken is probably the only Hollywood action film ever released were the fight scenes all replicate what people would be trained to do in real life situations.

The film actually had a scene cut by 21 seconds to ensure a 15 rating in the United Kingdom. Despite the overly gratuitous violence, the film does have some subtle humour. For instance, Laurence Fishburne stars as The Bowery King, an underground crime lord. The character tells his subordinates “me and Wick met a long time ago, but he won’t remember” — which could be a really clever reference to the Matrix trilogy.

Indeed, Peter Serafinowicz’s character kits out Wick, reminiscent of Q in the James Bond films. Which fits in well with the theme of an assassin on a mission.

Much of the film shows the personal feud between Wick and Cassius (Common) — a loyal bodyguard of the now deceased Gianna D’Antonio. This despite being intense has its’ light-hearted moments. The two shoot at each other with silencers at a subway station with the public completely clueless and when on a train, kicking lumps out of one another, a tannoy asks commuters to “report any suspicious behaviour”.

Australian actress Ruby Rose stars as Ares, one of Santino’s security enforcers. Being mute for the whole film, Rose has to rely on her non-verbal communication in the role. As the main female antagonist, she delivers another one of the film’s great performances. Her boss is shown in the film to be a very unlikable guy, but Ares is a lot more likeable through her sign language banter and her subtle provocative gestures towards the main character.

If you did come here to see a complex and engaging plot, however, you should look elsewhere. The story is very basic. Hitman gets forced out of retirement, gets betrayed, has to kill a ton of people like he did in the last film.

Yet, it still works if you came to see the action and to be excited. Reaves performs all the hand to hand combat and visually it works very well. This is a film for adrenaline junkies, the action scenes especially towards the end of the film are non-stop. Director Chad Stahelski has produced a fantastic visual show, which keeps you wanting more, which complements the sound of the show. It not only looks amazing, it sounds amazing. There isn’t too much dialogue throughout the film, the characters let their action do the talking, but the lines they do speak creates subtle humour and increases the tension between the characters. After all, they are all trying to kill each other.

The sequel doesn’t have the crescendo like effect of the first film, but in a good sign for a sequel, you don’t need to have watched the first film to see the second. The storyline can still work on its’ own and the few minute details you have to know are all explained in the beginning. Lastly, whilst I won’t give away the ending of the film, it does set up very nicely for the third installment, which has been in the works since October.

It’s a tale that doesn’t really teach you much either, except perhaps “rules are rules” and sometimes you have “no choice”.