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Film Review: John Wick: Chapter 2

John Wick: Chapter 2
Directed by Chad Stahelski
Starring Keanu Reeves, Common, Laurence Fishburne, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ruby Rose, John Leguizamo and Ian McShane
In threatres now


I never thought I’d walk out of an action sequel starring Keanu Reeves and consider it a contender for one of my favourite action movies. (Sorry-not-sorry, The Matrix Reloaded.)

John Wick: Chapter 2 sees protagonist John Wick (Reeves), an assassin with the “headshots only cheat code” turned on, pulled out of retirement once again to wreak havoc. The film takes John on a global adventure, where he once again navigates the world’s underground assassin society with his signature style of mayhem. But this is the only plot I can divulge without getting into spoilers; go see this movie knowing as little about the plot as possible.

What worked:

John Wick: Chapter 2 straight up kicks all sorts of ass. From the opening scene, Chapter 2 keeps you on the edge of your seat with its relentless action pacing, rarely letting go. Watching Keanu Reeves dive back into this role is a pleasure, as it serves him perfectly as an actor, maximizing martial arts and gun play and minimizing dialogue. With so many CGI-fueled action movies out these days, its hard to find specific action scenes that are actually memorable. Cue John Wick straight up fucking a guy up with nothing but a pencil! Now, that’s memorable. This scene alone justifies going out and seeing it. The movie also builds upon the complex and interesting world of The Continental (the strange assassins guild hotel from the first film), in a satisfying way. Impressively, this world building feels less like a Marvel Studios-esque sequel bait tactic, but rather like a legitimizing factor of the narrative and universe the film takes place in.

What didn’t work:

Not much failed outright in this movie, however I do have a few issues. The first being Lawrence Fishburne’s character. Although this is the first time Reeves has reunited on screen with his Matrix mentor, Fishburne’s role was annoying and incredibly over-the-top, making me immediately wish the scenes featuring him would be over with so we could get back to the positives I mentioned above. My second, and most pressing issue with the movie, is its ending. While I don’t want to spoil it, I will say that I understand what they were trying to do but can’t help but feel that it comes off as too much sequel bait, failing to wrap up a loose end presented late in the film. The action and world of this film already had me eager to come back for Chapter 3 without needing this ending.

Verdict:

Despite a weak ending and a hammy Lawrence Fishburne, John Wick: Chapter 2 is one of the best action movies in the recent memory. Hell, probably of the decade. The movie first and foremost knows what it is — a vehicle for Keanu Reeves to kill dudes with endless headshots and play make-believe in a world of assassins — and doesn’t try to be anything but. When you head out to the theatres over reading week, make you skip the trash and the over-hyped product placement and see what Keanu Reeves was born to do.

Rating: Keanu Reeves kills a guy with a fucking pencil. Why aren’t you at the theatre yet?!?

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