Never Stab the Devil in the Back: “John Wick: Chapter 2” Film Review

AUSTIN VAN PAY | ENTERTAINMENT COLUMNIST

In 2014, the original “John Wick” wasn’t even a blip on many people’s radars including my own. After rave reviews and a cult-like following behind the title character and his universe, “John Wick” returns badder than ever in Chapter 2.

The film begins with a bang as John hunts down those who stole his precious ‘69 Mustang Cobra. After a fantastically choreographed car scene and some intense hand-to-hand combat, we begin to slow down and become reacquainted with the fantastic underground mob world. John returns home, buries his weapon stash in concrete and finally feels as though his retirement has come and he can leave the underground world behind.

Unfortunately, John is interrupted by a mysterious ring of the doorbell and is greeted by a familiar face from the criminal underworld: Santino D’Antonio. John is quick to deny D’Antonio’s request  of debt repayment and immediately regrets that decision when his home is destroyed with grenade blasts. Left with no choice, John must return to the fold once again and repay his debt within the criminal underworld. Little does John know, he is in over his head more than he first believes.

Let me begin by saying this may be one of the best action movie sequels I have ever seen. The original “John Wick” built such a wonderful and mysterious crime-filled world and  had fantastic, heartfelt motivation for it’s main character. “John Wick: Chapter 2” expands on the fantastic world and of course, intensifies the action to new levels. This film and the first one have some  of the best action choreography you will ever see on screen.

The way Keanu Reeves has committed himself to this character is unbelievable. You can really see in every combat and stunt scene that Keanu has put his all into making everything feel gritty and authentic. It was said that he went through months and months of military combat training for up to 8 hours a day and it really does pay off when you watch these unbelievable action sequences on screen. I cannot say enough how jaw-dropping it is to watch the bullets fly and the punches land on hordes of John Wick’s enemies.

As I said earlier, the world in which “John Wick” takes place is also fantastically realized; each familiar and new character adds believable depth. In the first film, it seemed that there were many people and events surrounding John’s past. We were just given a small taste of it. The sense that there was a mysterious background organization involved was intriguing and gave a unique twist to the film.  “John Wick: Chapter 2” expands upon the world and fills in a part of the mysterious void that the original film gave to us in small bits and pieces. I enjoyed discovering more about the organization in the second chapter, even if towards the end of the film, it becomes slightly less believable and maybe even a bit “cartoonish”.

Overall, “John Wick: Chapter 2” expands upon what made the first film great: a fantastic underground crime world and amazingly choreographed action sequences. I love that an action film like this can have such great depth and interesting characters, but also stunning action sequences to back them up. John Wick is back, and I am highly anticipating the next chapter in the series.

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