Chapter 2 of John Wick sees Keanu Reeves once again portraying the titular hitman. Thanks to the surprise of the original, the team behind Chapter 2 are able to up the ante with a bigger budget. Where other action movies fail is where John Wick 2 succeeds, letting the camera be a spectator to the engrossing carnage. Often in the action genre filmmakers feel the need to show different angles, too often resulting in the stunts becoming an incoherent mess. Like the first, John Wick is on God mode, adding to his body count every second. When the director is also a former stuntman the action is gonna take priority over the story. Now that we are invested in the Wick universe they take their time expanding on the Continental Hotel, home of the criminal underworld.
With Wick 2 there isn’t the same urgency as the first, Wick or ‘The Boogeyman’ is no longer the hunter, instead being the hunted. With a runtime 20 minutes longer than the original, Chapter 2 has a stretch between the first and second act that serves mostly as a way to build on the mythology of the Continental. Though the set pieces are grand, after the 100th headshot it starts to become numbingly stale. Yes, people buy the tickets to see Keanu Reeves kick ass for 100+ minutes but with this one the set pieces overstay their welcome. The original offers a wide variety of short sequences featuring Wick’s hitman wizardry, making it an overall tighter film with few delays. The sequel must manage to expand on Wick’s history while raising the bar with bigger, better, boisterous action.
The success of both films has resulted in the resurrection of Keanu Reeves career, landing more roles as of late. Like his other hits, Reeves isn’t being asked to give a rangy performance, instead delivering a performance in his wheelhouse. With any film you can guarantee that Reeves will commit 100% to the role, as proven again with Wick 2 as he mows down the baddies left and right. Chapter 2 features a credible ensemble with Leguizamo, McShane and Reddick back to add some depth. Common finds himself in another action thriller playing the henchmen, this time playing the equal to Wick as they throw each other down a flight or two of stairs. Ruby Rose plays a deaf henchmen which results in a few cheeky moments between her and Wick, unfortunately not leaving much of an impression though. An unofficial Matrix sequel occurs when Laurence Fishburne’s character is brought into the story as a last resort for John Wick. His charismatic charm is on full display for the brief screen time he has. The cast elevates the film thanks to their self awareness to the story that is represented by their characters, resulting in a few moments of comedic relief.
John Wick: Chapter 2 proves that good action movie sequels can exist, sticking to the game plan that made the original such a success. Dimly lit with streaks of neon, Wick ruthlessly eliminates the opponents while electronic music blasts in the background. Though the extended runtime can be felt early on, the payoff is more than satisfying. The set pieces are orchestrated seamlessly and the choreography is fluent. Keanu Reeves badassery is more than enough to overcome the cliché antagonist and generic motivations he has to offer. With a third film already in the works, the John Wick franchise has potential to be one of the most reputable trilogies of all time.