Revenge is a Dish Best Served John Wick: Chapter 2 Style
When John Wick burst onto the scene in 2014, it took most everyone by surprise, including me. Keanu Reeves was back with one of the best gun-fu action films of his career. What John Wick did so brilliantly was give the audience an action packed, rapid shoot out, hand to hand combat battle royale, and not focus too much on the story. This universe, the John Wick universe, doesn’t revolve around an elaborate story or in-depth plot twists that’ll have your head spinning. No, John Wick is basically: someone did something bad to John or someone he loves, and he doesn’t like that. Simple, easy, and not far-fetched when you get to know the character.
What the second film does is capitalize on everything that everyone absolutely loved about the first one, and put more of that into the sequel.
John Wick went on to gross more than double the film’s budget, which I have to think was a surprise even to Keanu and the crew. So, what did John Wick: Chapter 2 do? Well, it doubled its budget from twenty million to forty million dollars. What else did it do? Well, it more than doubled the profits as well. John Wick gross an astonishing forty-two million dollars; John Wick: Chapter 2 has grossed more than eighty-two million dollars in the United States alone (as of March 5). Now, some of you may be thinking “But those are just numbers, what does it have to do with a review?” Most of the time you’d be right. But there is a reason I decided to lay out the overall gross for these films in this review. What the second film does is capitalize on everything that everyone absolutely loved about the first one, and put more of that into the sequel. That’s really all there is to it. John Wick: Chapter 2 put more money in its budget so that the film could do more of what the fans loved, and I think that’s a very important distinction for this film.
As with the first film, there isn’t much in the way of story for this series. The John Wick universe exists and we must take it for what it is: a world in which paid assassins have their own underground community which spans the globe. John is still pissed off at certain people and still wants revenge on certain other people. It isn’t the story that these films need to focus on. What these films do is give you an exceptional look into this underground universe they’ve created and shove some of the most well done action into a film that I have ever seen in my life. The movie is just a load of fun. Far too often I found myself screaming out loud when a character was hit with a car, or shot from long range, or stabbed with a knife. Each individual encounter is incredibly well filmed. The stunt choreography is at its absolute best. All moments in fights seem to have excruciating attention to detail. There are no super-fast cuts to avoid having to actually choreograph the fight scenes. Keanu and director Chad Stahelski took their time to craft these scenes. They aren’t just thrown into the film to fill a gap.
Each individual encounter is incredibly well filmed. The stunt choreography is at its absolute best.
Each character in the film is also well thought out. They all have their own motivation and background, their own skill set and personality. It’s something we often take for granted in action films. They all serve a purpose within the story; they aren’t filler. There’s only one exception to this in the film, and that is unfortunately the role of Ares, played by Ruby Rose of Orange is the New Black. There’s nothing wrong with Rose’s performance. It’s the way the character is written that irks me. Ares is meant to be seen as the very menacing right hand to our main antagonist, and that’s fine, but there’s nothing menacing about the character. The film doesn’t show us any reason to feel afraid or to think even for a second that John would have any issue winning a fight. To put it into perspective, Adrianne Palicki’s Ms. Perkins in the first film fills a similar role. However, her skills were put to the test immediately and we could see what she’s truly capable of. We knew that she was a top tier assassin and that she shouldn’t be messed with because the film showed us that. Or take even Sofia Boutella’s Gazelle in Kingsman: The Secret Service (my personal feelings on the film aside). We were presented with how dangerous and vicious her character was from the very beginning. We knew what to fear because it was instilled in us. With Ares, we don’t have that. There’s no reason for us to fear Ares as a viable opponent because the character does nothing throughout the film that’s even remotely menacing. All we get is that Ares is a mute, which also lends nothing to the film or character.
Keanu Reeves has found his true niche in the genre...
John Wick: Chapter 2 is an excellent piece of gun-fu, with some of the most impressive visual action scenes we’ve ever had in film. It’s fast paced, action packed, and it keeps the story rolling. You’re intrigued while you’re watching. You love meeting all these new characters and the roles they play in this underground universe. You love rooting for John and you also love knowing that for any room he enters, he will obliterate anyone in it. If you’re a fan of the first film, you’re going to love Chapter 2. If you haven’t seen the first one, I’d recommend renting it since this film is a direct sequel (it takes place only hours after the first one ends). Keanu Reeves has found his true niche in the genre and with a character and world he seems to care deeply about. Bring in more characters and more amazing action sequences in Chapter 3 and you can bet that I’ll be along for the ride.