Forget Ted, forget Johnny Utah, forget Neo. There’s a new Keanu Reeves character in town that eclipses them all – John Wick.
After 2014’s John Wick received cult-classic status amongst action-film fans, a sequel was quickly green-lit, resulting in a more relentless, more stylish, and overall more entertaining follow-up. Chapter 2 improves in every aspect over the first film, officially giving Keanu Reeves another legendary character to add to his acting repertoire, one that will cement Reeves’ legacy as a genuine action-star.
Even though Reeves’ career has been somewhat up-and-down over the last 30 years or so, there’s one thing you can’t deny about the actor; he has a knack for playing characters with long-lasting appeal. It’s no different with John Wick, and he hits the mark with his performance here as the cold and merciless hit-man. While there’s not much to the character in general, there is a certain gravitas behind Wick that feels like Reeves was the only actor that could do the role justice. His co-stars Riccardo Scamarcio, Common, Laurence Fishburne, Ruby Rose and Ian McShane all play typical characters you’d expect to see in a film like this, however they do the best with what they’re given, which is all you can ask for.
John Wick: Chapter 2 follows on directly after where the first film ended, and sees the titular hitman thrust back in the secret world of assassination games, after trying so hard to get out. The plot here is nothing new and feels more suited to a generic B-grade action movie, albeit one with a much flashier style. This is where the film stands out from the pack. Director Chad Stahelski has created a visually exciting piece of cinema, continuing on with the same aesthetic seen in the first film. It contains a rich colour palette, some sharp editing, and a wardrobe worthy of a Parisian runway. Combine those factors with the fast-paced, brutal fight choreography and we’re left on the edge of our seats for most of its entirety.
The film runs through at a relentless pace, with rarely a dull moment. The few non-action scenes are engaging enough to serve the purpose of the story, but are mostly filler before the next action sequence begins. It’s these sequences that are the highlight of the film. Not much is held back in terms of violence, and while it’s extreme, it’s not extreme for the sake of it. There’s a certain elegance to the choreography that justifies the brutality. But more than that it’s just pure entertaining stuff.
John Wick: Chapter 2 has it all for action-film fans. It’s pure entertainment at its best, filled with colourful characters that would fit just as comfortably on the pages of a graphic novel as they do on the screen. It’s fast-paced, stylish and most importantly, a film that won’t easily be forgotten.
Director Chad Stahelski was Keanu Reeves’ stunt double in the Matrix trilogy.