Stars: Keanu Reeves, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ian McShane, Ruby Rose, Lance Reddick, Laurence Fishburn, John Leguizamo, Bridget Moynahan
Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller
Runtime 2HR 2MIN
Chad Stahelski helms the telling of the second chapter of John Wick’s unlikely rise to prominence in the action anti-hero world. This should come as no real surprise given Chad’s history in film, which is mostly made up of stunt coordination in notable films like 300, The Matrix, V for Vendetta, and Constantine. A one-time martial arts instructor with a kickboxing background, he has a long career of orchestrating slick fight sequences.
The movie rolls into action right out of the gate, reestablishing the unique action style of the first film. Once again, John is trying to get his car back, and a massive number of bad guys go down, despite hitting John with moving cars multiple times. I truly wondered why he was mowing through guys, damaging his treasured mustang in the process. When he finally returns home, however, we see that he had a card in the glovebox from his deceased wife with a picture of them together that was what he was really after.
The world expands in John Wick: Chapter 2. John’s actions to avenge his murdered dog, have put him back in the game. He has a debt to repay the person that helped him retire in the first place. This debt is owed to Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio), who wants John to kill his connected sister so he can take over the crime world in NYC. This sets the stage for a massive barrage of intricately choreographed fight sequences and point-blank head shots.
On the plus side, this movie delivers on the same gun-fu fighting display that made the first movie such a surprise hit. At the same time, this movie falls into the trap of a second movie, in that it lacks the originality of the former. At 2 hours and 2 minutes, JW: Chapter 2 grows a bit tiresome. Truly, the first film worked as a revenge flick. In it, John lost the one connection to his dying wife who represented his salvation and redemption for a better life. In JW: chapter 2, he plays a guy that is reluctantly doing a nasty deed for a nasty purpose and you are less vested in the outcome.
As a fighting-action flick, John Wick: Chapter 2 is top notch. Taken as a follow-up to the first movie, the expansion of the story, length, and lack of heart leaves you wishing for the nostalgia of the first.