A QUIET ACHIEVER RETURNS, WITH SO MUCH STILL TO SLAY DIRECTOR: CHAD STAHELSKI (JOHN WICK) STARRING: KEANU REEVES, COMMON, LAURENCE FISHBURNE, RICCARDO SCAMARCIO, RUBY ROSE, PETER STORMARE RATING:
n their heart of hearts, most action fans had 2014’s surprisingly good John Wick marked down as a bit of a fluke. Those same folks will therefore be expecting the sequel to be a bit of a letdown.
Nothing can be further from the truth. In fact, the return of a perfectly-cast Keanu Reeves as the title character – a black-suited, blank-faced assassin with a peculiarly colourful code of ethics – is nothing short of a trashy triumph.
When we last saw him, Johnny W was about to retire, having ruthlessly reduced the ranks of the Russian Mafia for killing his dog and stealing his car.
As Chapter 2 commences – with a lengthy pre-credits sequence worth the price of admission in its own right – it is only a few days later.
There is one particular Russki that John forgot to deal with. He still holds the keys to John’s fave set of wheels.
The two gentlemen exchange multiple unpleasantries, share a drink, and complete the transfer of ownership with shocking efficiency.
No sooner is that matter settled, and John is forced back into the termination game at the behest of a fellow assassin to whom he owes a favour.
What John must do is not nearly as important as how he does it: all you need to know is every heavy-duty henchperson he helps to an early grave had it coming.
While the bare-bones plotting of Chapter 2 ushers in a European change of principal locale as its only prominent point of fresh business, the script does a fine job of cleverly expanding upon the most intriguing elements of the first picture.
Many of these are related to the mysterious rules, regulations and choices of five-star accommodation that govern the behaviour of Mr Wick and his industry peers when they are “off the clock”.
Make no mistake: while John Wick: Chapter 2 is junk of the highest order, it is also junk that doesn’t settle for second-best when it comes to servicing the wants, needs and curiosities of its target audience.
The sheer amount of obvious craft and sly experimentation fed into the mix by director Chad Stahelski and his team just cannot be taken for granted at any juncture.
Alluring visuals and audacious combat choreography are impeccably fused together, to the extent this could be the most beautiful bludgeon-fest ever filmed.