For an action film that’s mostly head-shots, John Wick 2 manages to feel inventive and fresh.
After 2014’s shock hit, John Wick is back for a sequel which somehow manages to be bigger and bloodier than the last. It’s an impossible task to keep score of the film’s body count, but that’s besides the point. The thrill comes from the execution and sheer theatricality of the stunts.
Keanu Reeves pulls off the silent assassin type surprisingly well, his style clearly well suited to action roles. He’s a man of few words and very singular motives, but somehow we get behind this character that mercilessly puts down generic guards one after the other.
It helps that this time around the plot is more realised. The background of the shady assassin organisation is explored much further, making the world of John Wick all the more exciting because of it. John Wick finds himself held back by rules, raising interesting dramatic moments and giving him something to push against. The film is more compelling in his moments of struggle, rather than shooting his way through scenes with relative ease.
And there’s a lot of this. At times it feels like viewing a video game. The direction is superb, the camerawork is steady and as precise as a well placed bullet to the head, but at times it can become monotonous. It takes a lot of little men dying before John Wick can come face to face with his real opponents, and these scenes are the ones that are more exciting to watch.
There’s a real sense here that Chapter 2 builds the world in such a way that further sequels would be both possible and welcomed. It certainly seems that even more interesting stories are yet to come, and perhaps it could be a rare franchise that improves with each sequel. Stunning locations and great direction and design elevate John Wick above the rest of the crowd, but occasionally it finds itself a little too bogged down by its clever violence.