Review: John Wick: Chapter 2 Is What Modern Action Movies Should Strive To Be
Title: John Wick: Chapter 2
Director: Chad Stahelski
Summary: After returning to the criminal underworld to repay a debt, John Wick discovers that a large bounty has been put on his life.
The original John Wick holds a special place in my heart because it was the first movie I reviewed for WatchPlayRead. I consider it the movie that kicked off my professional career but it also lingers because it was just a really good movie. I very clearly remember going into it expecting the worst and walking out so impressed. That is what action movies should be these days and I was pleased to see it garner enough success to merit a sequel, but now the question becomes can they make this formula work twice?
John Wick: Chapter 2 takes all of the great elements of the first movie and builds on them to create a fascinating world littered with amazing action scenes.
There were a lot of things that set John Wick above the rest of the action movies of the time but one of the main ones was it was just really well directed. John (Keanu Reeves) didn’t waste time trying to shoot guns out of the hands of the men that were trying to kill him. He went for headshot after headshot which gave the movie a sense of brutality that we don’t see outside of grindhouse action movies. The sequel follows that pattern as John wastes no time giving his enemies time to survive. The only people he allows to live comes down to professional courtesy. The camera holds still so we can watch every shot and every body drop in this movie.
The other thing that made the original movie impressive was this world that they built. For a movie that was really just a one man army getting revenge on behalf of his dog and his car, there was a surprising amount of depth. The movie took the time to build this fascinating network of assassins and the sequel builds on that. The idea of the hotel neutral ground returns and we find out more about this world that Wick lives in. This isn’t just a neutral zone but an entire society with its own laws, cultures, customs and currency. When the original came out I would watch the entire movie about that hotel but there is so much more going on. The movie packs an entire television series worth of worldbuilding within two movies and they do it by showing and not telling. No one wastes too much time with exposition because the worldbuilding is there but it isn’t why we’re here.
There is a place for pure action movies with a surprising amount of depth in them. This is a genre that is emerging and taking the world by storm. I would place John Wick and it’s sequel in the same camps as movies like The Raid or Mad Max: Fury Road. These are pure action movies that set out to accomplish one goal and look great doing it. They aren’t here to change the world but they are here to remind us that action movies can be bloody, brutal and fun, but they don’t have to be dumb. They can have interesting worlds that you want to learn more about as you watch. Reeves is also ageless in the way he moves through these action movies. This is a movie that showcases why he is the man you call for a role like this.
John Wick: Chapter 2 is another strong entry into what is becoming one of the premiere action franchises. This is a movie that didn’t need to work this hard but decided that being a pure action movie didn’t mean they didn’t need to try. Instead they put in the work where it counts and we’ve been rewarded with yet another great action movie of the ages.