Before you get any further reading this review, if you haven’t already seen John Wick – the 2014 gun-fu action flick that surprised audiences and critics alike – go and watch it. CEX will sell you a copy for less than a fiver, and that money will save you some head scratching and greatly increase your enjoyment of this second film.
The opening scene is a (very) loud and proud car chase that bookends the first film and keeps it in the family when it comes to bad guys, as Wick (an inscrutable Keanu Reeves) looks for his stolen wheels. Even at this point it’s obvious Henchmen ‘R’ Us is going to have quite a few positions opening up, yet the real threat appears when an old friend of John’s comes calling before he can step back into the shadows and continue his retirement.
Much of the joy of the first film – aside from its innovative action – came from its world building, which created an interesting set of rules and procedures for A-list hitmen. Director Chad Stahelski and writer Derek Kolstad continue down that path, adding more layers to this hip but deadly universe as it relocates to Rome.
However, many will feel the new elements that are exposed don’t offer the same kind of fun insights that the first film did, although viewers may question how deep the rabbit hole goes (especially during a meeting between ex-Matrix buddies) when it starts to look like every person in NY could be an assassin.
Slick but silly, furious but fast, with some dodgy dialogue to boot, John Wick: Chapter 2 mines familiar territory to create an entertaining – if no longer groundbreaking – action experience. Reviewed by Matt Chapman