Director Chad Stahelski’s latest film is a neo-noir action-thriller sequel to 2014’s “John Wick.”
“John Wick: Chapter 2” continues the story of the legendary assassin. In this installment, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is required to leave retirement and return to his hitman lifestyle by a previous acquaintance. This former friend is scheming to snatch the power of a mysterious global assassin organization. Compelled by a blood pledge to aid him, Wick journeys to Rome where he fends off a league of the planet’s most lethal assassins.
“John Wick: Chapter 2” is one of the few sequels that matches the brilliance of its predecessor. Fueled by rich visuals and brilliantly choreographed fight sequences, the film ups the thrills, explosions and pencil-related deaths. Reeves has finally found a franchise that works for him.
Without a doubt, the “John Wick” franchise is Keanu Reeves’ most promising work in a blockbuster since his “Matrix” days. The boogeyman assassin is tailor-made for Reeves. Here, the actor gives another commanding performance as the stoic Wick. Granted, the emotional complexity of Wick’s character is rarely shown. However, the veteran actor makes the impassive character somewhat relatable for the audience. This is key since Wick is a guarded character and could easily become an uninteresting and lackluster murderer.
Additionally, Reeves has a certain dedication to this character. The training required, the craft of the fight sequences, etc. You have to admire Reeves for fully committing to the role. At the same time, he’s required to commit. In an age where older men dominate more and more action thrillers, Reeves has a high bar to meet. Watching this film, it’s astounding that the 52-year-old is performing such multifaceted and complex choreography.
Nevertheless, as impressive as Reeves is in the role, the true star of the film is the assassin underworld. No gun thriller in recent time has taken the effort to construct such a brilliant and vivid society underworld. Every section of Wick’s world has rich worldbuilding. This allows viewers a wealthy and gratifying experience. This secret society created is what separates the “John Wick” franchise from others. Not even films like “Taken” have this rich and exquisite of a world to play in.
Nevertheless, that’s the key to the film. The creative team behind the underworld and the characters that populate the screen have a flair to them. This flair is deeply felt in the awe-inspiring gun and fight scenes. Action sequences in film can be hit or miss. Directors make the mistake of crafting fight sequences to be overwhelming and dizzy.
However, the action sequences in this action thriller are anything but dizzy. There is such precision and focus to each sequence. You see every kick and gunshot, feel every punch. The fight sequences become delicious treats. Like any good dessert, though, too much may be bad for you. For some viewers, the sequences filled with gore can be paralyzing in their brutality. Yet this will not be a problem for the key audience.
Overall, “John Wick: Chapter 2” capitalizes on what made the first film irresistible. The film delivers more of the enthralling assassin underworld, and it features another dedicated performance from Keanu Reeves who stands tall behind a well-established supporting cast.