John Wick Chapter 2 is Beautifully Violent and Excruciatingly Fun
John Wick: Chapter 2
Directed by: Chad Stahels
Written by: Derek Kolstad
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Common, Laurence Fishburne, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ruby Rose, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane,
Running time 122 minutes
Rated R for strong violence throughout, some language and brief nudity
They stole his car, and killed his dog, and he went through hell to make them pay. Now John Wick (Keanu Reeves) has found his car, buried his guns, and settled back into retirement to grieve the loss of his wife. However, Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) saw John’s rampage of vengeance as a signal that he is back in the game, and Santino holds a token that demands John complete one more job for him. John refuses the job, pleading with Santino to not force his hand, but Santino refuses to take no for an answer, so he burns John’s house to the ground. You simply do not burn down John Wick’s house and expect to get away with it. Naturally, John decides to accept the token from Santino, do this one last job he is rule bound to complete, before extracting his inevitable revenge. The wrinkle is that Santino wants his sister Gianna (Claudia Gerini) killed, so he can claim the seat at the “High Table”, a council of high-level crime lords that his father left to her. John Wick returns to his former life, once again, for a non-stop, no-holds-bared, fight to the end for blood soaked vengeance.
John Wick changed the conversation about action movies by stripping away the convoluted plot devices and McGuffins and replacing them with world building, and intricately choreographed action sequences. John Wick Chapter 2 continues this discussion by taking the world building and action sequences to an entirely new level. With rock steady cinematography and direction watching this film feels like being on the craziest smoothest roller coaster in the world while dodging the bodies of dispatched assassins.
With Jon Wick and John Wick Chapter 2 the plot and by extension the motivations are incredibly one-dimensional. Typically, this would be a negative and rob the audience of the satisfaction of having narrative that is not only understandable but also empathetic, that is not the case here. The simple motives derived from the paper-thin plot leaves no room for plot-holes, or misappropriated motivation that everyone can understand. There is nothing in the movie that is simply gratuitous, all the action sequences are only as long as they need to be, the camera work is undistracting and graceful. In fact, many of these elements show great restraint leaving the film looking and feeling very clean.
Not only was the intricate action engrossingly entertaining, but also the world that was constructed is beyond fascinating. With two films screenwriter Derek Kolstad has created a universe that holds endless possibilities. A world where anyone, and sometimes it seems like everyone is some form of assassin or criminal secret agent. The depth of this world is something that many writers are unable to accomplish with half a dozen films and a book series. That might be a little bit of an exaggeration. What is not an exaggeration is how thoroughly enjoyable John Wick Chapter 2 was, and how often I am going to recommend it this week.