John Wick: Chapter 2
Keanu Reeves is back to what he does best in this exhilarating action sequel.
May 18, 2017
When John Wick burst its way into cinemas in 2014 with a flurry of bullets, it was the action flick no one knew they needed. Keanu Reeves was at his blank-faced best as an unstoppable assassin, shooting first and never asking questions — because he didn't have to. Watching the mayhem that resulted: that was an audiences' joy through and through.
Can such a formidable force hit the target twice, though? The answer is obvious: John Wick never misses. Chronicling Wick's efforts to once again stride back into seclusion — a plan foiled by Italian mobsters with a case of sibling rivalry — the reunited team of stuntman turned director Chad Stahelski and screenwriter Derek Kolstad stay true to their winning premise and up the stakes. John Wick still gets to show off his lethal skills, but he's not just seeking vengeance. He's repaying the debt that helped him get out of the assassin business in the first place, and then trying to survive the deadly fallout. Oh, and he's got a new dog.
As familiar as that might sound, John Wick: Chapter 2 turns sticking with what works into an action opera that knows when to dazzle with a symphony of shoot-outs, but also knows when enjoying Keanu's menacing presence is enough. The film's impeccably choreographed action scenes in Roman catacombs and New York City streets prove exhilarating, but so too do the steely glares directed by Keanu at his myriad foes – including Common and Australia's own Ruby Rose. The fact that the end result may be a little predictable isn't a problem when it's executed with such precision and flair.
When Stahelski does sprinkle a few fresh inclusions into the mix, he goes big. Suave Italian icon Franco Nero — aka the original Django — pops up as the Roman counterpart to Ian McShane's returning hotelier, while Laurence Fishburne gives movie nerds the reunion they've been waiting for. Smartly, though, neither overpowers the main attraction. Cinema-goers want to see Keanu being the legendary bad guy that even bad guys fear, dispensing with his enemies with a pencil and just generally blazing his way through the criminal underworld. On that front, you'd better believe that John Wick: Chapter 2 delivers.
Indeed, Keanu and his former Matrix stunt double are the movie's not-so-secret weapons. Stahelski ramps up the action to dizzying heights, while his leading man lets his physicality and stoic charisma do the talking. More than a quarter of a century since he first showed off his action hero skills in Point Break, Keanu's still got it. The genre wouldn't be the same without him – and if we can make a request for the inevitable John Wick: Chapter 3, it's for more of the same with some of Johnny Utah's surfing thrown in.