The action-packed, point-blank shooting violent thriller John Wick marked Keanu Reeve’s return to the big screen after a decade long hiatus. Directed by ex-stuntman Chad Stahelski, the adrenaline filled thriller followed the titular former assassin John Wick, in his quest to avenge the death of his dog. Needless to say, the action flick was a masterfully choreographed spectacle of bloody carnage and gory mayhem with lots of cursing. Having been one of the surprise blockbuster successes of 2014, a sequel was almost a must, despite the film’s ending. The sequel came in 2017 and followed up from where the original left off.
Serving up the same gory mayhem and bloody carnage that made the original a success, but on a grander scale, the sequel, John Wick, Chapter 2 was never going to disappoint. In the 2017 release, John Wick is forced out of retirement again, when an Italian mobster, Santino D’Antonio, played by Riccardo Scamarcio comes to redeem a blood oath owed to him. This has Wick on a reluctant mission to kill the mobster’s sister in Rome. And when he succeeds he gets slapped with a sneaky $ 7 million open contract on his head placed by the very mobster who ordered the hit. In a thrilling turn of events, Wick has to fight off droves of assassins one bloody shoot out at a time.
While Keanu Reeve’s performance is nothing short of masterful, he is joined by some familiar faces in the form of the Game of Throne’s Ian McShane, who reprises his godfather inspired role from the first film. Laurence Fishburne, who starred along side Keanu Reeves in the Matrix franchise also makes an appearance as a crime lord by the name of the Bowrey King. Hip Hop artist cum rapper Common is the other familiar face in the film. Common is one of the film’s main antagonist acting as Cassian the loyal bodyguard of the mobster than Wick killed.
Written by Derek Kolstad, the plot of this movie is cleverly created. The code of honor among criminals is brightly brought out and so is the concept of an underworld syndicate hiding in plain sight. One of the film’s intriguing aspects is the hotel continental, a chick Manhattan hotel that serves the who’s who in the criminal underworld. Run by Winston, Ian McShane who has a strict no violence within the hotel’s walls policy.
There is no shortage of violence in Rome though as Wick has to fight his way through a swarm of Santino’s goons led by the mute Ares, Ruby Rose. The ex-assassin also has to contend with Cassian’s desire to avenge his boss. The shootout at the ancient baths of Caracalla at the beginning of the film truly epitomize the movie’s love of “gun-fu” shootouts. And who can forget the shootout at the hall of mirrors. The carnage does not end in Rome though as everyone’s beloved one-man army finds himself targeted by every killer in New York upon his return. This forces him to reluctantly seek help from an old enemy in the form of Laurence Fishbourne as the Bowrey King.
Before being cast in the leading role, Keanu Reeves had to master the deadly art of judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. With the talented Dan Laustsen acting as the film’s cinematographer, the movie lacks the digital dazzle, green-screen trickery and over the top editing that has come to define modern blockbusters. Instead, the movie relies on the realistic and non-virtual live-on-location action. The result is a realistic and well-choreographed spectacle that is reminiscent of the grace of old Hong Kong action flicks.
Overall, it is the film’s elegantly gruesome killing sprees and realistic carnage and mayhem that makes it standout. Interestingly, the film manages to find the right balance between a genuinely intriguing plot and out of this world mayhem. This is something that most blockbusters have failed today. The ending of the movie acts as an interlude to a third installment, which many will be waiting for with bated breath. Audacious, bold, violent, surprisingly hilarious; these are just some of the adjectives that can be used to describe John Wick Chapter two. In essence, the sequel just like its predecessor is the quintessential action-thriller, the kind of movie you will want to watch more than once.