“You wanted me back” –John Wick, John Wick Chapter 2
Yeah, fans of the first John Wick did want a sequel to one of the biggest surprises of 2014. But few sequels seem to be able to stack up to their predecessors. Fear not John Wick fans for that is not the case in this franchise. Yes, I know, it’s hard to believe but the sequel actually does top the first one. John Wick Chapter 2 delivers in every way, adding to the mythos of the franchise, and showcasing some nice action sequences. For lack of a less discrete phrase, this movie is total action porn.
The first John Wick started out a little slow and let the action simmer to a rolling boil. Chapter 2 decided to pick up the pace. From the first frame, the movie drops you into the action. The slow boil and deliberate pacing of the first film was so critical to the success of the story in the first film. This change in pace for the sequel actually doesn’t hamper the film like you would suspect, but enhances the quieter moments. The pacing of the movie is different, but well balanced.
There are a few things about this film that stood out. First, you have to commend Keanu Reeves as an action star. He is believable event in the most ridiculous scenes. Common, to his credit, did very well in this film for the character that was written for him. Another standout that made this film better than the first movie, was the inclusion of more of the mysterious Continental Hotel as well as the organization it is associated with. Because of this inclusion, Chapter 2 is able to raise the stakes increasingly throughout the film. The final standout that was noticed was the great usage of tension. The tension within some of the scenes was so palpable that at times it felt more like a western set in an urban city.
Thus far I’ve been touting how good this movie is. Of course, not everything is perfect. There are some plot elements that simply don’t make since. Of course going into a movie like this you have to temper your expectations and expect more action and less storytelling. Still, some events seem to happen just to get the main character from point A to point B without feeling completely logical or fully developed. This was not an error the first movie made, even with a weaker plot.
Most of those instances occurred in the first act and don’t hinder the experience. There are some loose threads that aren’t fully explored or explained. However, to a degree, that is part of the magic of these films. There is an element of mystery to this underground society. This movie certainly reveals new wrinkles in the mythos that should be quite intriguing when they are explored in the third installment.
John Wick Chapter 2 is the best videogame movie that never was a videogame. This is a purely fun, high octane, spasm of action and violence. The best part about John Wick Chapter 2, is that it enhances the experience of the run and gun scenes, by adding a fairly compelling narrative. Make no mistake, you won’t find any thought provoking philosophical principles or romantic rumblings in this movie. What you will get is a fun popcorn stuffer that doesn’t require a lot of thought. Yet it still manages to be a quality movie that builds upon an already interesting mythology while setting the stage for at least another addition to the franchise. It may be a bold claim, but these two movies stacked up together feel comparable to The Raid series as far as delivering unique, high-octane, unapologetic action.