Monday, March 20, 2017

Movie Review: JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 (Review #2)

John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is back and this time not by his choice. Santino D'Antonio (Riccardo Scamarico), a crime lord, has Wick tied up in a blood debt. The legendary assassin is forced to embark on one last mission to free his soul, but when he realizes that he will not be left alone he decides to take matters into his own hands.

John Wick: Chapter 2 is a solid, action packed sequel which lives up to the original's potential and builds on it with even more world building and assassin lore. Whilst lacking some of the crazy fun that made the first entry so charming, it still holds up to incredible the standards of action and improves on them with an even stronger stylistic voice.

What the film has to be praised the most for is the unity of vision that director Chad Stahelski brings to every frame of the film. Be it the lively colors and neon lights, or the the breathtaking kinetic pace, it is so wonderful to see an action film stamped with a style that enhances the story and livens up the world. So many times we are treated to generic tropes and flashy visuals that are there for the sake of it. But Stahelski knows his stuff and paints a world that is there for the viewer to be carried away with, making every action beat more relevant because of the inherent interest and fascination this film gives the audience into its underground.

There is a lot of montaging and simultaneous cutting going on in the picture and it was one of the most pleasant aspects not to be turned off by it. Sequence after sequence the stakes are always ramping up. The filmmakers here clearly know how to manipulate an audience and take them through a constantly engaging journey. Of course it helps that the action is impeccable. Every stunt is both perfectly carried out and seamless with the flow. There might be a couple of times in which it bleeds over into overkill but they are very rare. For the majority of the time the set pieces are highly original and flashy in the best way possible and contribute in making the action more alive by always setting it in a new, surprising environment.

One aspect that has to be mentioned is just how beautiful the film looks. The cinematography is just jaw dropping. At one point there is a long take that keeps going and going and it was a joy. The frames are so smartly composed. The use of color in this feature is off the charts, some might call it a little too on the nose, but I found it masterful. The craft that must have gone into making this images look as they do is truly remarkable, even more so when you consider that it is rarely ever unwarranted. It supports the story. It makes it more relevant and gives this sense of rawness and liveliness to the world of crime.

I have to admit that this sequel does not quite reach the level of its predecessor. Be it because of a weak finale with revelations right and left that were completely unnecessary and devoid of any relevance to characters or story. Furthermore, this one does not quite reach the standard of fun and catharsis that was present in the first one. It decides to ramp up the seriousness a little and I think it partially suffers because of it. There isn't the sense of ridiculousness that made the first one so incredibly entertaining.

John Wick: Chapter 2 remains a masterful action film that elevates itself above the average and gives us a picture full of suspenseful and savage sequences, with great characters and even better world building.

James' Score: 7.5/10

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