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Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2


Starring: Keanu Reeves, Common, Laurence Fishburne, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ruby Rose John Leguizamo and Ian McShane
Director: Chad Stahelski
Walt Disney Warner Bros
Certificate: 15
Running time: 2 hr, 2 min
Opens 04 March 2017

John Wick (2014), although an instant classic in my favourite genre (They-Didn't-Know-Who-They-Were-Fucking-Messin'-With), was not a film that appeared to need a sequel. In fact I wasn't even sure how a sequel could do anything other than tarnish the original.

Review imageAlthough it may not have been needed, it certainly is glorious. It expands on the excellent world building of the first installment without falling into the trap of over exposure or needless exposition. This is one of the series' greatest strengths. It doesn't assume its viewers are dumb and is filled with tiny, fascinating detail and hints.

The John Wick films are clearly made by an expert devotee of the action genre. Director Chad Stahelski knows which motifs to hit, which to subvert and which to avoid altogether so the whole endeavour still manages to hold some surprises. Which is no mean feat.

The main vibe of John Wick is that it convinces. Keanu constantly gets a clobbering for being a bad actor but this is mainly due to his laconic Du-Ude voice. The guy is not going to be stealing any of Derek Jacobi's gigs, true, but when it comes to action there are few that can match him. His handling of both weapons and the endless gruelling fight scenes are wholly believable and immensely cool. But then Mr Reeves really does know Kung-Fu.

Review imageThere's a definite eastern feel to this tale and a deft bunch of nods to classics like Chan Wook Park's Vengeance Trilogy and the Enter The Dragon-esque finale. Unsurprisingly the action set pieces are superb with the New York subway segment being my personal standout.

Some of the best supporting characters from Chapter One return and are joined by another clutch of small, but perfectly formed, cameos and stellar supporting actors. (smutty aside: Seeing numbers one and three on my Laminated List sharing a scene was a rare treat). Ruby Rose's Ares is the Darth Maul - a menacing and compelling presence throughout; who's final, and only, proper battle is brief, brutal and brilliant.

Review imageBy extending the world of Wick from one film into a trilogy (Chapter 3 is already slated) the protagonist loses just a touch of his mythological mystique. The events of Chapter 2 cause a little of the unassailable bogeyman attire to slip and may be completely shucked in the closer. John Wick is most definitely human, albeit one who is incomparably good at killing people. Thankfully at the end of this film we are still left not knowing much more than that. It's a marker of a good film that you always feel you could spend more time in the world it shows you... but in John Wick's world there is no time to spare and Chapter 3 cannot come soon enough.


Lizzie Biscuits

Screen shot

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