A Glorious Opera of Lead: Our Review of ‘John Wick: Chapter 2’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - February 10, 2017
A Glorious Opera of Lead: Our Review of ‘John Wick: Chapter 2’

It’s a beautiful thing when expectations actually get met once in awhile.  While John Wick: Chapter 2 doesn’t quite match the raw emotion of the original but it ramps up the action to such a fever pitch that you’ll have whiplash after two hours of John Wick in his element.

He’s settled his score and is ready to go back into a life of quiet and content existence away from the horrible underworld life that he was far too adapt at…or is he?  A former associate plotting to seize control of shadowy international assassins’ guild shows up at John’s door step with a favor that no one wants him to ask.   With no alternative and bound by a blood oath, John travels to Rome where he squares off against some of the world’s deadliest killers and this one last job becomes more life and death then he could have possibly imagined and the last thing that he has to hold on to is the desire for some good old fashion revenge.

With Chad Stahelski taking over the director’s chair by himself this time, John Wick: Chapter 2 moves at a frenetic pace that doesn’t let up and ramps up the action as we follow our hero cutting a swath through the most stylish of criminal undergrounds.

Picking up pretty quickly after the first one left off, this isn’t a story that is rife with personal stakes or love like the first film was, but it follows our hero finally making everything right and getting ready to finally disappear into the ether of real life that he was so violently pulled out of.  But it’s never that simple, Stahelski allows us to simmer in the moment of peace because both he and we as an audience know that we won’t have anything like it any time soon.  The film reluctantly but also beautifully embraces the violence and the action that it is now set upon like a runaway freight train.  Stahelski along with the script from Derek Kolstad embraces the sense of style that this world exudes where the criminals are everywhere and the cops are barely to be seen.  Much like The Raid franchise it is a high octane ode to violence and action splattered on the screen in a beautiful operatic fashion.  None of this ever realistic, it’s never meant to be as this bullet riddled opera follows our hero in his quest for all he’s ever wanted, just to be left alone.  It’s simplistic but high energy and strips it all down to the need for revenge and to end the madness that is being laid out in front of our hero.  The team of Stahelski and Kolstad will never be accused of storytelling with subtlety and nuance but they know how to keep the tension high enough to make sure our collective asses are hanging on to the edge of our seats.

Returning to the title role, Keanu Reeves goes from a man avenging his love to a man who has just pushed too damn far and is really pissed off about it.  There isn’t any emotional depth or layers to it all, he is giving us a man who is past his point of no return because the world around him just wouldn’t allow him the peace that he needed to keep going on after the death of a life that he found such solace in.  The usual suspects return in the likes of Ian McShane and Lance Reddick while the likes of Franco Nero, Riccardo Scamarcio (as our bad guy dripping with sleaze), Ruby Rose (as a mute henchman) and Lawrence Fishburne add some fun flavour to the proceedings, no one really has anything to dive into…except of course for Common as Cassian a rival assassin, basically the ‘Yang’ to John’s ‘Ying’ and together they pull off some of the more electric fight scenes that have put on screen.  We could watch two hours of these two guys fighting and still be very happy with the end result of the movie.

As the story begins to crest into the obvious ‘Chapter 3’ installment (because seriously who DOESN’T love a good trilogy) we can rest easy because with the stylish, intense and often times hypnotic violent operatic that was John Wick: Chapter 2 is only leaves us salivating for more and more.  See it big, see it loud and see it often because rarely have the words uttered by Lawrence Fishburne before the 3rd act kicks off “Would somebody PLEASE get this man a gun?” been such an unequivocal call to joy and escapist entertainment.

This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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