You made the first one a modest hit and now we have the inevitable sequel in "John Wick: Chapter 2." The first "John Wick," which came out in 2014, was a surprise critical success, gaining a strong audience following along the way. For whatever reason, this film connected with some audience members, who will be happy that the sequel is more of the same - for better or for worse.
Keanu Reeves returns as the titular character, who came out of retirement in the last film to seek revenge on a group of baddies who were responsible for killing his dog and stealing his car. Over two years later, Wick is still holding a grudge and returns to inflict any kind of pain on whoever should stand in his way.
Wick is called back into the line of duty by a slimy crime boss, Santino D'Antonio (Richard Scamarcio), who wants Wick to kill his sister (Claudia Gerini). He needs to obtain an arsenal, so he pays a visit to The Continental, a hotel where assassins gather to put their weapons down and enjoy a glass of bourbon, stock up on ammo and guns on their way out and check in with the "manager," Winston (Ian McShane). Apparently these trained, machine-like killers actually have a lot to talk about when they are not busy breaking bodies or shooting people in the head.
There is a lot of fill-in-the blanks chatting amongst the melee, which doesn't help the fact that "John Wick: Chapter 2" kind of feels like a drag. The movie is about one-to-two characters and 30 minutes too long, making its point and satisfying the action aficionado in you long before the conclusion.
But the real problem with the "John Wick" films lies within our lead actor. Reeves has never been much of a performer but a movie star, headlining big movies and franchises (I still love "Speed," I truly do). He's so focused on trying to appear menacing that he actually forgets to do so. His eyebrows are so deeply furrowed for the two-hour runtime, you can sense him concentrating very deeply on his appearance. His performance feels calculated to the extreme.
Am I just being the picky critic on "John Wick: Chapter 2?" Perhaps. The action is glossy and well-shot by returning director Chad Stahelski, who made his directorial debut with the film's predecessor. Stahelski is an experienced stuntman so he gets the artistry of what is going on in these films and, despite my not being the biggest fan of them, I do give him credit for that.
Regardless, "John Wick: Chapter 2" leaves you with the impression this story and character are not done yet. It's likely Mr. Wick shall return. I'm just not sure they have much left to say.
|Movie title||John Wick: Chapter 2|
|Summary||John Wick is back - for better or or worse.|