If you loved the simple story and nonsensical violence of the first John Wick, you will also enjoy the precision based violence in John Wick: Chapter 2 even more.
John Wick was a tremendous surprise when it came out of nowhere with a marketing campaign that lasted barely over 2 weeks. Beyond that, it was a really fun action movie based around a very simple yet emotionally engrossing story. John Wick: Chapter 2 would have to go a long way to surpass the original.
I think John Wick: Chapter 2 is a valiant attempt at upping the ante from the first. John Wick got a huge amount of praise for its world building of an underground society of assassins, the sequel dives much deeper into it. Beyond the Continental in New York, we get to see how all the assassins operate in other parts of the world and how it is all connected. The way this is set up is great! At no point are you as the audience spoon fed all the intricacies of how these connections are maintained; in fact you are given just enough information through the people you meet and little pieces of dialogue to connect the dots for yourself.
One of the biggest strengths of John Wick: Chapter 2 is the seamless transition between Keanu Reeves and the stunt doubles during the action sequences. At no point did I ever think that everything I was watching wasn’t being done by Keanu himself. Even though I know Keanu is a trained martial artist and did indeed do a lot of the close combat himself, there are still moments in the film that had to include stunt doubles…but I couldn’t tell in the moment. The action itself is breathtaking…SO MANY HEADSHOT!! All the action sequences are a lot more violent, more vivid and much more intricate. It wasn’t only gun battles, there were many instances of close combat action which was extremely well choreographed and filmed.
Despite better action sequences, I found the emotional payoff to be lacking. The first time around, the motivation was simple but effective. How could you possibly begrudge a skilled assassin from avenging the murder of his puppy, the last remaining connection to his dead wife? However, this time around the plot was a lot more complicated and took a lot longer to set up. The movie suffered as a result. In trying to set up the core of the movie, the transition between the different plot lines felt really jagged and choppy. Also, everyone is an assassin! All the people John Wick comes across is an assassin…even the homeless on the streets. This was a step too far for me to suspend my disbelief.
Overall, John Wick: Chapter 2 is a lot of fun in its own right. I just don’t think a John Wick sequel can actually be better than the first movie because of the surprise factor attached to it and how fondly we remember it because of the surprise. The action is better, Keanu Reeves personifies the veteran assassin, the boogeyman if you will, and the production value is much improved. But the plot and therefore the emotional motivation leaves something to be desired.
My Score: 3.5/5 – If you enjoyed the first John Wick, you will definitely enjoy this one too.
John Wick is still out in cinemas if you haven’t watched it yet.