John Wick was the sleeper hit of 2014. In amongst all the gung-ho action films starring ageing, battered actors (and there are a few of them), Keanu Reeves stepped up to the plate to show us how these films should be done. On a budget of $20m, it made $80m. Not only that, it was a critical hit, the biggest surprise of all.
So comes the inevitable sequel, which at first looks to be a by the numbers one. John Wick (Reeves) is once again swept into the universe of assassins built in the first feature. He has finish a job, he visits the hotel, there are “gun fu” fights and even some of the dialogue is the same as it’s predecessor. And then, the film takes a turn.
This is not to the film’s detriment, in fact it’s the bravest thing which could have happened. See Taken 2, Liam Neeson’s franchise of similar ilk. The sequel was a carbon copy of the first, and so the first kind of lost points for it. Here though, in John Wick: Chapter 2, the narrative goes down a road that feels organs nd bold at the same time. For fear of ruining any more of the story, it just goes without saying that fans of the first will not be disappointed.
In so much as action, you can see from the get go what we are in store for. The first image on film is old Buster Keaton footage, setting the tone for a bombastic, stunt filled extravagant. And we are not misled, as Reeves himself takes on many of the stunts himself. He is again superb in the lead role, finding a sombre, melancholic take on this most dangerous man. Silence is golden, and Wick is gold.
Of the action, set pieces in the catacombs of of Rome were some of the best we’ve seen, while one later rendezvous in New York just seemed to gain relentless momentum as Wick lived up to his legend; it turns out he can kill a few men with one pencil.
Ian McShane is back as hotelier Winston, the calm reasoning behind the universe, in a meatier role than last time out, and brings his well oiled gravitas to the picture. We also have a fun interaction with Laurence Fishburne, those who know why this might be the case are in for a treat.
But this is once again Keanu Reeves’ film, his role, his vehicle. Expect bigger action, bigger stunts, and yet somehow still, a bigger story. One which builds as we head towards an ultimate climax, one which doesn’t disappoint. Enjoy John Wick: Chapter 2, these don’t come around all too often.