John Wick: Chapter Two Review — The Devil Is Back

And he is a bad actor…but we love him anyways.

  • When it came out in 2014, John Wick was seen by many as the savior of action movies that Hollywood desperately needed after years of bombarding us with mediocre CG explosions and cut-and-paste superhero films. Not because of its plot or anything – as it was pretty much just a standard “hitman brought out of retirement” story – but because it had some of the best action scenes we’ve seen in a long time, taking inspiration from the best action films of the past, combining it with the best action films of the present, and making Keanu Reeves relevant again after god knows how long. So naturally, a sequel was made.
  • John Wick: Chapter Two is basically what the title of the film says: the second chapter in John Wick’s life. After getting back his car and buying a new dog, John just wants to retire in peace, but an old blood oath he made with a past associate in order to live with his now-dead wife forces him back into the assassination game.
  • Of course, nothing is ever that simple, and John soon ends up getting hunted by the associate and the legions of assassins thrown in his direction. I won’t spoil where it leads up to, but basically there’s a good chances that there’s going to be a John Wick: Chapter 3.

Hope the opening action scene thrills you, because it’s mostly just conversations for the next thirty or so minutes.

  • Like the first film, you don’t go into John Wick: Chapter 2 for smart dialogue or strong plotting. You’re coming here for the action, and it is fucking intense when it shows up. The directing, choreography, and editing on Keanu Reeves’ moves are spot-on, and while you know John is going to win in the end, he really has to struggle in order to do so despite his character literally being the devil in disguise, which really sells the intensity of those scenes.
  • This does mean of course that if you’re not an action fan or don’t think action alone can carry a movie, then there’s nothing in this sequel – or the series in general – for you to latch onto. There’s enough background given to John and his enemies, world-building given to the assassin underground, and bits of dry humor spread throughout to make the plot watchable without excelling in anything, but I can’t really recommend the John Wick series in general if you don’t like this sort of action storytelling.
  • Speaking of which, I’m not exactly a fan of this sort of storytelling myself. I was much more into it a few years ago, but I’ve been spoiled by so many good action stories since then that John Wick: Chapter 2 just feels like it’s playing in the kiddy pool that this genre has lying around for some reason. I’m also a male who likes his blood, so the action does get me excited when it shows up. But after it’s over, I just think to myself “well that was fun” and then immediately move on to something else.

This dude really does his best to defy the “black guy always dies first” trope.

  • I also think a large part of that judgment has to do with John Wick’s character just being the stoic badass rather than the relatable girl with a mental condition in Chocolate. It’s very difficult to actually relate to those characters given how I’ve personally never been in the hitman business or talked in a gravelly self-serious voice all the time, and the moments when John opens up to cry about his dead wife that we never get to know personally and his dog that doesn’t get much screen time are too few compared to the amount of time we see him preparing a hit and carrying it out on his target and said target’s numerous bodyguards.
  • Also, just like a good chunk of what the other reviews have said, Chapter 2 is mostly just a transition film to Chapter 3. Those who try to praise the movie outside of that final action scene in the mirror room are going to be very hard-pressed to say anything all that substantial, and I was kinda disappointed at how quickly the people who were built up so much got offed. Aside from one dude whose name I can’t remember, most of the big fights are against people we only see for like a few seconds. Some of them look more distinctive than others (the Japanese sumo dude, the underground musician lady), but that’s about all they have going for them.

This image isn’t in the film, but it’s a pretty good metaphor for what the plot inevitably comes to

  • You guys wanted more John Wick and this film delivers on that, but similar to Lego Batman, it doesn’t offer much in keeping things fresh or convincing me that this formula has long-lasting appeal, leaving me with a more “meh” feeling rather than the jolt of energy initially promised by all the positive word and such. Personally, I hope Chapter 3 is the last we see of Keanu Reeve’s new breakout character, because what else can he possibly do to put new energy into this series at this point in time? Fight Jackie Chan in space?

Minor Quips

  • So why exactly couldn’t they just give John his car back and avoid all the killing to begin with?
  • Still prefer the first Matrix movie over John Wick, personally.

3 responses to “John Wick: Chapter Two Review — The Devil Is Back

  1. The “gun-fu” action choreography throughout the John Wick series has already been done decades ago through the John Woo movies. Speaking of them, when it comes to action, nothing gives me an adrenaline rush more than the movie Hard Boiled. Easily my favourite action movie.

  2. Watch the scene in which Wick reads his wife’s note and see how much pain that man is in. In that moment, Keanu sells the set up with one acting performance. He’s lost without her. Anyone who has lost someone, whether it be due to death or just a terrible break-up knows the kind of pain Keanu is showing in that moment. It’s not about the dog. It’s about the right to grieve. That’s what was taken away from him, and that’s what he went out for revenge for. I think many people are missing the whole point of the dog, what it represents and how the film does more with so little – more so than almost any of theses types of action genre films.

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