John Wick: Chapter 2

Reviewer: Ben Ward 

Keanu Reeves is back on the big screen with the follow up to John Wick. The sequel comes relatively quickly after the original when you consider the first one was released in late 2014/early 2015, depending on your locations. And we have been lucky enough to have been invited to the gala screening of John Wick: Chapter 2.

Let’s begin by saying that the IP itself was and still is a bit of a strange beast, part Neo-Noir, part Martial Arts action flick but with tendencies at times to feel a touch like a b-movie. On paper the original may have sounded like a bland cookie cutter action flick, what we got was a slick, visually impressive movies which is highly entertaining; with the arguably minimalist approach to advertising of the first film it turned into a surprise hit, maybe not quite a cult movie yet but definitely on its way to becoming one. This aesthetic has been carried over to the sequel and works extremely well, it feels both familiar as well as new.

Returning for this installment are Keanu Reeves as the titular John Wick, John Leguizamo as Aurelio & Ian McShane (Game of Thrones/American Gods) as Winston. That in itself is a good pedigree however they’re joined them this time round by Italian actor Riccardo Scamarcio as the villainous Santino D’Antonia, Ruby Rose (Orange is the new black), Common (Suicide Squad/ Entourage) and lastly Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix/ Predators) as The Bowery King, with a cast as rich as this it’s hard not to be impressed if not intrigued as to the story.

Also, it is worth noting that this is the first collaboration between Reeves and Fishburne since the conclusion of the Matrix trilogy, both actors clearly both have great on screen chemistry and it’s a great moment in general but more so for fans of the trilogy to see these two working together again.

Story wise, Chapter 2 follows the sometimes just too cool vibe that the original had, John is once again out of the life and living his life with his beloved dog (whom, it is later shown that he has yet to name), however as with any action flicks this doesn’t last long and he is approached by our villain Santino about paying back a blood oath. When John refuses all hell breaks loose and he is once again forced to go back to being the “Baba Yaga” or Bogey Man (as they call him) of the hit man world for one more job. The film is a great watch and entertaining, if lacking in re-watch value.

Yes, we may have seen this kind of story before, but the film is very satisfying to watch, as stated before visually impressive and so action packed there is very little to get bored with the plot. It very narrowly misses being as good as the original, but this is largely because we know what to expect from our hero and doesn’t have the surprise factor of its predecessor, it does however up the ante and up the action in an attempt to make up for this. It’s worth noting as well that the soundtrack is great and adds a superb atmosphere to an already great film.

In summary, John Wick: Chapter 2 is a very good film which just narrowly misses out on greatness, it’s action packed, smart at times and definitely funny where it needs to be. It’s also the perfect antidote to cold boring winter nights and is a great fit for those searching for the years first real no-nonsense balls to the wall action flick.

 

John Wick: Chapter 2 is out now in cinemas across the UK.

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Denisa