When “John Wick” came out in October of 2014, it took everyone by surprise with it’s sleek styling, bombastic violence, and unquestionable cool factor. “John Wick” was a simple film that didn’t try to overstay its welcome, got right to the point, and added an invigorating attention to detail that modern action films tend to ignore for an increase in over the top explosions. It had an impressive body count and even more impressive style. When it was announced that there would be a “John Wick Chapter 2” I couldn’t have been more excited.
Many sequels fall short of their originals because they try so hard to be different that they stray away from the qualities that made the original so good. “John Wick Chapter 2” doesn’t have this issue at all. It has all the similar themes and cool style of the original with even more violence, more stunts, and a slightly more complex plotline. Admittedly, the dialogue the first ten minutes of this film is absolutely atrocious, the fight sequences seem to come straight from a Batman movie, and the film quickly moves past the clunky exposition and on to what makes this franchise great.
The choreography of the action sequences is done so well and the intense preparation that Keanu Reeves put into the roll pays off with an added sense of realism to the action. It manages to be creative with each kill as the body count soon becomes too high to handle. The original had great action but this film arguably has even better moments of intense violence.
The dialogue does improve from the opening 10 minutes but is never going to be Oscar-caliber work. And the film realizes this when one character pokes fun at John for being a man of few words. The film knows its success lies in the action and not the dialogue, keeping the conversations short yet impactful and full of the necessary information we need to understand why fifty people have been assassinated in the last half an hour.
The plotline has a few more characters than the original and a more complex path of growth for our main character. John was a relatively stagnant character in the original film, but here we see glimpses of him questioning his sense of purpose with what he really wants out of his life while simultaneously showing a growing emotional rage that came across as more cold-blooded in the previous entry. Hopefully, this development will be improved upon even further in the third film, which given the ending will most certainly happen.
The style in the last half an hour is gorgeous to look at and every production designer’s dream as John fights an army of henchman through a room of reflective mirrors. It’s not a new concept (“Man With the Golden Gun” had a similar climax) but it is utilized to full effect to make for a brilliantly satisfying ending.
It’s hard to say whether I like this film or the original more. I like the denser plot and the final thirty minutes was truly great. But I enjoy the consistently better style of the original and less painful dialogue. This sequel has more noticeable pitfalls but also better highs that ultimately round out to a similarly satisfying experience. Anyone who liked the original will like this film and even those who missed the original would still get an enjoyable experience from this entry. It is a lovely complement to the original and sets up a highly anticipated ending.
John Wick Chapter 2 (2017): 3/4 stars