Film Critic and Writer for ComiConverse.com, the Founder and co-host of the official Nerdcast Network Podcast
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John Wick: Chapter 2 is out in North America and ComiConverse film critic Jordan Samuel has his review ofÂ the much-anticipated sequel.
After returning to the criminal underworld to repay a debt, John Wick discovers that a large bounty has been put on his life.
A decade ago Keanu Reeves hungÂ up his sunglasses as Neo having left aÂ serious impact on the action movie genre. He took aÂ break from the industry appearing in fewerÂ films over the next few years. I’ve always loved his charismatic performances which blendÂ both groundbreaking action sequences, and Reeves’ innateÂ sense of wonder. He returned in 2014 with the surprise action hit John Wick.Â It was the standout movie of that year and the almost 50-year-old ReevezÂ never looked better. In a year packed with older action heroes –Â Denzel Washington’s The Equalizer (2014), Kevin Costner’s 3 Days To Kill (2014) and Liam Nessonâs Taken 3 — John Wick was still a standout. At the surface level it was another generic action romp, but with some impressive sequences that harkened back to old school John Woo movies and some strong world building, Wick rose above.
The world class assassin coming out of retirement felt less like a swan song for both actor Keanu Reeves thanÂ a celebration on everything that makes an action movie great.Â The plot was also quite good. From the opening credits, audiences knew thatÂ they would be strapping in for a no-holds-barred action film.Â When the sequel,Â John Wick: Chapter 2, was announced fans were anxious to see Keanu Reeves’ follow up.Â His past sequels The Matrix Reloaded (2003) and The Matrix Revolutions (2003) both failed on multiple levels.
Director Chad Stahelski, returns and helms a fantastic sequel which not only lives up to the original, but also serves as the next logical stop forward in expanding the established world and creating an exciting franchise. Chapter 2Â is less of a genre movie — it finds a charming personality through the addition of characters who flesh out the world of the film. Chapter 2 replaces the dark streets of New York withÂ Rome a smart choice that naturalisticallyÂ adds another location toÂ the ever-expanding world of John Wick. The Rome setting also leads to some of the film’sÂ beautifully crafted action sequences. The plot is riskier and more complex than the revenge-themed original. Derek Kolstad’s script does more to explain the mob underworld glancingly engaged withÂ in the first film. I enjoyed Chapter 2Â more than the original in that regard. It ends up playing out almost like a comic book entry in the life of John Wick, pitting him against new enemies.
Set shortly after the events of the first movie, WickÂ has taken outÂ everyone he sought revenge against and has a new dog. However, this is all cut short when a former big man returns on the scene. It’s not long before an old rival of Wick’s calls in a favor. Like John Wick, the film’s plot never getsÂ bogged down in a over-complex story.
Explosions and gun fights are the reason many flock out to see these films and Chad Stahelski (famous stunt coordinator who has doneÂ everything from 300Â andÂ Captain AmericaÂ toÂ Hunger Games) provides great action in Chapter 2.Â Close quarter shots are used to giveÂ Wick a signature flair. Violence is dialed to eleven sometimes making Chapter 2Â difficult to watch. SomeÂ scenes are so realistic that audiences will be in awe, especially when WickÂ goes on a rampage with just aÂ pencil.
Keanu Reeves provides his best performance yet. His line delivery is pitch perfect and his action star pedigree helpsÂ him in bringing Wick to life. Even outside the action you can sense a proper characterÂ whose sparse, caustic Â dialogue will makeÂ you smile in yourÂ seat. ReevesÂ has a great comic presence in the sequel. This humor is balanced and judiciously included so thatÂ it won’t detract from the overall tone of theÂ film. It may not be an Oscar-winning role but, like Matt Damon’s turn as Jason Bourne, it will be remembered. IÂ can’t wait to see what happens withÂ the future films in thisÂ franchise. I cannot get enough of John Wick’s brand of action filmmaking.
John Wick: Chapter 2 is an expansive sequel that brings togetherÂ everything greatÂ about the first one, bringing in new locations and characters to build the film’s world. The films remindÂ me in some ways of the video game series Grand Theft Auto which improved with each iteration. This weekend I believe that everyone should see this film, make it a commercial success, and ensure thatÂ a third WickÂ movie is made.
John Wick: Chapter 2 does everythingÂ a sequel should and more. It doubles down on what made its predecessor great and adds new, exciting elements to the mix. The relentless, thrillingly and uniquely choreographed action is all here: with new characters and settings.
Jordan Samuel is a Film Critic for ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @JordanESamuel