Review: ‘John Wick: Chapter 2’ Is, By Default, The Franchise’s Best And Bloodiest

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I'm a film critic. I enjoy going to the cinema so much that my goal is to try for an average of once a week. If I like what I’ve seen a lot, there’s a chance I’ll go and see it again. I cover all genres, including but not limited to: action, romance, horror, animated, comedy. You may not agree with everything I write, but everything I do write is strictly my own opinion. If you don’t agree with something I’ve said, that’s fine, as a lot of people have their own ideas of films, and not every film is going to be enjoyable to every single person. But if any of my reviews sparks a conversation or a discussion, then I’ve done an alright job. And if you want to then see said film, then I’ve done an even better job. If you’re interested anymore than this, then here is where you can find a complete list of every film that I’ve reviewed to date: https://ollieauthorofxma.wordpress.com

Full credit must be given straight off the bat to screenwriter Derek Kolstad for creating this world, a world that is simultaneously believable yet highly stupendous when you actually stop to think about it. This world is full of sharply-dressed, softly-spoken assassins, all of whom abide by a set of unbreakable laws in order to prevent anarchy from erupting through the ranks and keeping them from becoming ‘like animals’. On top of that, this world has its own currency, its own vast array of different yet interconnected networks, and no-one ever stops to consider if what they are doing is right or wrong, if only because each and every single one of them upholds the unwritten rules of this world. Even though they do possess their own currency, they still have to use normal currency from time to time. The most important thing about this is that there is no getting out once you are in. The only person who has ever successfully managed to escape the life has been the titular character, John Wick (Keanu Reeves), yet he got pulled back into the life in the first film because (and I’m going to assume you’ve seen John Wick if you’re reading this, but spoiler alert in case you haven’t) some idiot killed his dog.

My girlfriend wanted to see this, and because I hadn’t seen John Wick, I decided to catch up with the story first, as the ‘Chapter 2’ section of the title suggested that this was a direct continuation of the story. I was very glad that I did, because John Wick: Chapter 2 picks up pretty soon after the events of John Wick conclude, with John hunting down the last of the people who were linked with killing his dog and stealing his car. He has avenged his dog – a gift from his wife before she died – but now wants his car back. After a particularly action-packed opening sequence in which John dispatches numerous gangsters with relative ease and a bunch of cool stunts, he believes his debt to be settled, and for the second time believes he is out of the life. What I think is great about Kolstad’s writing is that he makes everything so down to earth, yet also so downright believable, so at no point do you either think what is happening is preposterous, or are wondering just what is going on. The storyline and everything in John’s world is so easy to follow, understand, and enjoy that you’re never once clamouring to put the pieces together. That, for me, is not just good storytelling, but great storytelling.

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John is a legend in this world, and is so well respected that even those in positions of power, such as Winston (Ian McShane), the manager of the New York Continental, treats him with perhaps more respect than he would other assassins. And John’s fellow assassins respect him too, for his reputation precedes him. Again, I’m going to wax lyrical about the writing, if only because there was a danger in John Wick where some characters instantly fear for their lives because it was John Wick’s dog, and now John Wick was coming after them. He is a one-man army, an unstoppable force, focused and unrelenting. It is through the writing of these two films – and I would argue perhaps even more so in this one – that we get to see just how great an assassin John is, showing that the initial reactions of those gangsters from the first film weren’t over-exaggerated. That danger of finding out how fearsome John Wick was before we saw him in action was completely unfounded by the end of Chapter 2. Again, that is down to the writing. It manages to pack so much adrenaline-pumping action into the 122 minute runtime that you’re swept along and barely notice time passing at all; you’re that invested in the story.

And what a story it is. We’re so lucky that we get to witness more of this world of assassins, and it never once feels overwhelming. Not only this, but we’re introduced to a new hidden world within New York (and perhaps even worldwide), and it feels utterly organic and it doesn’t overcrowd the movie in any way. In fact, it does quite the opposite: it elevates what was already an enjoyably action-packed film. The plot of Chapter 2 follows John as he has to honour a marker and then fight for his life as he realises that he has been set up by the very people who called him to do a job in the first place. This leads to John racking up the kills as if he was in his own live-action version of Call of Duty, killing people in all sorts of different ways. Mostly though, it’s with a gun. But don’t worry about him ever running out of bullets, because he always has something else up his sleeve, or another gun that he can use. After all, he takes out so many of Santino D’Antonio’s (Riccardo Scamarcio) goons that it’s not as if he’s ever not spoilt for choice. The plot runs along at such a high-octane pace that the moments where it slows down are just long enough to allow you a breather before it ramps up all over again. John Wick: Chapter 2 is one of those wonderful action films that doesn’t boast about what it can offer, instead allowing its own outstanding writing and phenomenal performance to deliver a high level of quality unlike anything else.

If you like what you see, head over to https://ollieauthorofxma.wordpress.com for more film reviews like this one.

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Oliver Ledingham-Smith

I'm a film critic. I enjoy going to the cinema so much that my goal is to try for an average of once a week. If I like what I’ve seen a lot, there’s a chance I’ll go and see it again. I cover all genres, including but not limited to: action, romance, horror, animated, comedy. You may not agree with everything I write, but everything I do write is strictly my own opinion. If you don’t agree with something I’ve said, that’s fine, as a lot of people have their own ideas of films, and not every film is going to be enjoyable to every single person. But if any of my reviews sparks a conversation or a discussion, then I’ve done an alright job. And if you want to then see said film, then I’ve done an even better job. If you’re interested anymore than this, then here is where you can find a complete list of every film that I’ve reviewed to date: https://ollieauthorofxma.wordpress.com

Review: ‘John Wick:…

by Oliver Ledingham-Smith time to read: 4 min
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