Does John pull off another head shot or should he finally retire?
2014’s John Wick was by far my favourite film of the year. The story was delightfully simple, a revenge story that even the viewer strongly cared about, especially after that dreadful dog scene! (Woof).
2016 sees the release of its follow up and it leaves the gate at an alarming speed. The first chapter is Bond on steroids! John is hunting down his beloved mustang and taking no prisoners. Peter Stormare throws in some brilliantly witty lines and expressions while in the background you can hear the bullets and screams of his men as John does his thing. Along with the car sequence it’s one of the best openings to a film I’ve seen in a long time!
After that explosive opening the film does slow down for a good 45 minutes or so, giving us a further glimpse into the underground assassin world that he inhabits. It’s interesting but what made the first film so great was its unrelenting pace. John Wick 2 seems to struggle a little at first in finding its feet but the wait is most certainly worth it.
After his contract kill it picks up the pace again and we jump onto the rollercoaster of a lifetime! A film with more head-shots than words spoken, John Wick 2 is just about the most violent film I’ve seen in quite some time. But it knows exactly what it wants to do, and succeeds enormously.
Keanu Reeves isn’t a particularly great actor, I don’t think many would disagree but he is most certainly one of the most committed. Reeves must have about 30 lines in the entire film and even some of them are delivered in quite a clumsy way. But it ultimately doesn’t matter in the slightest. The way he controls the gun, even throwing in some impressive little reloads, is fantastic. The eye wateringly good fight scenes that are choreographed to perfection will have a smile scarred into your face throughout. Keanu put in an insane amount of training for the role and it shows!
The action is relentless as the film storms towards its 2 hour runtime. The battle through the subway was yet another fantastic sequence with some great comedy sections. The stealth shooting across a busy station had the theatre howling and the violent, yet ridiculously satisfying pencil scene had everyone in front of me wincing. The final climactic battle in the museum through its many mirror maze displays is as trippy as it sounds, however I did find myself becoming a little numb to the violence after the 150th headshot.
And that’s one of my only gripes with the film. The action, as fantastic as it was, did almost outstay its welcome. It started to become a little repetitive. The hand to hand combat became a constant game of roly poly and the sheer dumbness of some of the hitmen in the gun fights left me bewildered. After the great opening scene of him in his car I would have loved to have seen more of this in the closing stages. The car play featured in the first film was a favourite of mine and it was a shame not to have more of it this time around.
This is all nit picking of course! A movie that can grab your attention with a fight scene, as intricate as a game of chess, with no music and just the noise of fist hitting abdomen is something special! (fight scene at the top of the stairs with Common is on par with any Bourne battle… without any of that shaky cam nonsense) and the world that has been built around all of this is shaping up to be quite an intriguing one.
It’s impossible to complete this review without mentioning the outstanding sound effects used throughout. From the tyre screeching opening to the impact the gun shots make, all noticeably different between the weapons used. They sounded meaty and awesome!
Overall John Wick 2 delivers in what it sets out to accomplish, it provides unrelenting visceral action, builds on its assassin universe, introduces us to new and exciting characters and sets us up for a very interesting sequel! Even if the dialogue can be clunky and the performances are over the top, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is this series continues to be a pleasant surprise in an age where great action movies are too few and far between.
What did you think of John Wick 2? Take your shots below!