JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 (USA/16/122mins)
Directed by Chad Stahelski. Starring Keanu Reeves, Ruby Rose, Ian McShane, Riccardo Scamarcio, Common
THE PLOT:
Immediately after the events of ‘John Wick’, our titular hero is still on a mission to get his car back. Once he does, an old acquaintance visits him to get John to kill his sister, so he may take her seat at the table of power. The assassination goes fairly smoothly, but when John learns a large bounty has been put on his head, all bets are off.
THE VERDICT:
‘John Wick: Chapter Two’, the sequel to 2014’s gloriously violent, silly and fun ‘John Wick’ has finally reached Irish cinemas. The good news that the over the top Neo Noir feel of the first film is present and accounted for, as is the violence and sense of fun, but the bad news is that ‘John Wick: Chapter Two’ is never quite sure when it has worn out its welcome.
Keanu Reeves returns as John Wick, and although Reeves still struggles making even the simplest lines of dialogue feel believable, he is physically all there as John Wick, and makes the character imposing, badass and full of skill. The rest of the cast features Peter Stormare, Ruby Rose – who has to be the busiest actor out there at the moment – Common, Ian McShane, Claudia Gerini and John Leguizamo. All of the cast are fine in their roles, but it is worth remembering that ‘John Wick: Chapter Two’ is not a film about acting, it is a film about killing – and dying – in the most spectacular fashion possible.
Derek Kolstad’s screenplay brings back all the best elements of the first film, including John’s car, the Continental hotel and a labyrinthine setting for a final set piece. The dialogue is minimal and not all that inspiring, but the action sequences nail the colours of the film firmly to the mast, and although the story feels rather reminiscent of the first film, this just about works on screen. Where the film falls down, however, is in feeling drawn out and overly long, and John making some out of character decisions.
As director Chad Stahelski keeps the first half of the film tight and wonderfully over the top, but it is in the second half that the director seems to have got caught up in the myth of John Wick, leaving the film feeling overly long and drawn out; even the incredible fight scenes become repetitive and uninspiring as time goes on. That said, there is a lot of fun to be had with ‘John Wick: Chapter Tw’o, and the energy coming off the screen is hard to resist.
In all, ‘John Wick: Chapter Two’ is not quite the masterpiece that the original was. There are times when the film feels as though it has got caught up in its own myth, and although all the elements are there, the extended running time means that ‘John Wick: Chapter Two’ ends up outstaying its welcome.
RATING: 3.5/5
Review by Brogen Hayes

  • filmbuff2011

    2014’s action sleeper hit John Wick was a much-needed blast of adrenaline to the jaded modern action film. A rock-solid collaboration between Keanu Reeves and his former stunt double on The Matrix films Chad Stahelski, it hinted at a myth surrounding a former assassin while also suggesting a much larger underworld he inhabited. The long-awaited sequel John Wick: Chapter 2 delivers on that promise – and so much more.

    Wasting no time, the film gets straight to business as John (Reeves) ties up loose ends from his previous adventure and retrieves his beloved car. Not without shooting his way through every bodyguard in order to get his Russian mark Abram (Peter Stormare). Looking for peace at the end of a wild ride that drew him back into the criminal underworld, John’s not going to get it. Old acquaintance Santino (Riccardo Scamarcio) calls in a debt, one that allowed John to leave the secret order of assassins in the first place. Reluctant to take on the task, John declines the offer and defies the assassin’s code of honour. Santino retaliates, forcing John’s hand. John heads to Rome to take out his new mark, but soon finds himself in over his head as a large bounty is put on his head. Every assassin is now out for him. His only allies are Winston (Ian McShane) and Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne)… but for how long?

    Given how good the first film was, expectations are high for this sequel. It doesn’t disappoint and bucks the trend of sequels that generally suck. John Wick: Chapter 2 follows the Terminator 2: Judgment Day model of action sequels. It builds and expands upon the world-building set up in the first film while taking the story in new and exciting directions. That’s partly down to Derek Kolstad’s witty, razor-sharp screenplay, which fleshes out the characters and worlds, but not too much. There’s still room for more expansion. A trilogy is being built here and you can see where things might be going in the future. For now, Chapter 2 delivers the same frenetic but brilliantly choreographed bullet-ridden ballets between John Wick and virtually everyone else.

    Like all good sequels though, it goes one step further and and delivers some superb action set-pieces which have clearly been thought through carefully. A climactic mirror maze shoot-out is a highlight, clearly riffing on the famous climax from Orson Welles’ noir classic The Lady From Shanghai. Each set-piece has its own distinct feel, whether in Roman catacombs or on a moving subway train. The on-the-run feel is like The Warriors, but with a one-man gang instead. Reeves looks sprightly for his fiftysomething age, zipping around like he was still Neo, dispatching one bad guy after another. There’s a sense of vulnerability about John though. There’s a possibility that he might not make it this time, as the odds are stacked against him. While some people can generally diss Reeves for his acting ability, there’s no denying that when cast in the right role he can deliver in spades.

    The assassin’s creed that is developed throughout the film is an intriguing one, suggesting that the only way out is to go back in. John has something in common with Michael Corleone then. Stahelski’s sterling direction throughout ensures that the film never drops the handgun and consistently delivers on both action, performance and character development. The slightly longer running time doesn’t result in the film outstaying its welcome. If anything, it ends too soon, leaving you gasping for more. Reeves has said that if audiences want more, then he and Stahelski are open to it. This reviewer is in no doubt that audiences will want more. John Wick: Chapter 2 is a terrific sequel. Hollywood – more films like this please. ****

  • Clive Bower

    Really worth while trip to the cinema continues where the first one left off.
    Keanu Reeves does a great job in my opinion, the film starts at full tilt and never lets up, one of the great action films of the year for me .

  • emerb

    “John Wick: Chapter Two” is the much anticipated sequel to the surprising 2014 action hit. In that movie, we were introduced to the hit-man of few words, John Wick, a former assassin who only wants to be left in peace and retire quietly. Following the murder of his puppy and the stealing of his car, he’s forced to seek his vengeance. In Chapter 2, Keanu Reeves is back as the titular hero and he’s as vicious as ever. In fact, this film is louder, more violent and far more brutal than the first. Yet I found myself enjoying every minute!
    The second chapter of the John Wick story finds the assassin once again forced out of retirement. Picking up shortly after the end of the first film, still mourning the death of his wife Helen, and with a new unnamed pitbull by his side (who remains safe, fear not!), Wick has little time to relax. A former colleague, mobster (Riccardo Scamarcio), comes to collect on a blood oath he made years prior that allowed him to retire. With little choice he has no choice but to travel to Rome and eliminate his powerful sister, sultry mob princess Gianna (Claudia Gerini). Wick soon finds himself trapped in Rome’s ancient catacombs, with an assailant
    behind every corner and no exit in sight. He’s facing threats from all sides, including Santino’s mute enforcer Ares (Ruby Rose) and Cassian (played wonderfully by Common), the glamorous bodyguard of the woman Wick is forced to kill and one of his toughest adversaries. In one of my favourite scenes, Wick
    faces Common and they tumble down at least three sets of stone Roman stairs,
    grunting and grabbing at one another all the way, it’s hard not to laugh!
    Returning cast members and new faces are clearly having great fun in this movie. Ian McShane returns as Winston, the owner of New York City’s Continental hotel, Lance Reddick and John Leguizamo are also a delight, giving
    completely different energy to the film. Ruby Rose doesn’t speak a word but she is effective nonetheless. Common really shines and proves to also be a great foil for Reeves, nailing the silent but deadly assassin who is every bit as smooth and efficient as our protagonist. My favourite is Laurence Fishburne as the eccentric Bowery King, a sort of pigeon whisperer who oversees an elaborate network of spies from his Brooklyn perch. He as a great rapport with Reeves and it’s a pity
    he had such a small part. But this film wouldn’t work without Reeves, such a watchable movie star – physically impressive and with an all-commanding presence. John Wick is the perfect character for Reeves particular set of skills, a man who says little but it’s through his body, his expressions and his actions that he communicates everything he needs to.
    One of the main reasons to enjoy “John Wick: Chapter 2” is the action and director Chad Stahelski with cinematographer Dan Laustsen make every frame a sheer delight. The action is sharp, seamless and superbly choreographed. The violence in this richly imagined criminal underworld is both relentless and intense. Undoubtedly, this is not a film for the fainthearted nor those with high
    moral standards. Apparently, the body count is up to 141 victims from 84
    in the first movie. Assassins are sliced, stabbed and shot in the most bizarre ways imaginable. It’s almost comical the way humans are disposed of – Reeves takes out what seems like hundreds of human heads in rapid succession and even impales a few heads on top of a sharp pencil – has to be seen to be believed. “John Wick: Chapter 2” is every bit as satisfying as the first, you won’t be disappointed. “John Wick 3” is almost surely in development already!