Director: Chad Stahelski
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Common, Laurence Fishburne, Riccardo Scamarcio
Age Restriction: 16 V
Release date: 17 March 2017
2014's John Wick surprised many when it stormed into cinemas becoming a critical and financial hit, as well as a career resurgence for actor Keanu Reeves.
The highly-anticipated sequel continues the titular assassin's story, as he's forced out of retirement once again – only this time by a blood oath.
Years earlier, John (Reeves) made an oath to crime lord, Santino D'Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) in exchange for an earlier retirement before the events of the first film.
A few days after the completion of John's revenge during the first film's conclusion, the assassin is approached by Santino.
The crime lord requests that it's now time for John to honour their oath – which requires the latter to complete an impossible mission.
Having no choice but to comply, John is sent to Rome to carry out his impossible task. However, things take a turn for the worst when the unexpected comes knocking.
Like most sequels, John Wick 2 ups the ante in terms of scope, featuring a larger plot and of course… boundless action.
With a bigger budget and more confidence, director Chad Stahelski ensures that the sophomore chapter surpasses the original in terms of action and stunts.
The non-stop action sequences are far more stylish and slick this time round; with unapologetic violence, well-choreographed fight scenes and risky stunts that pay homage to action flicks from the 80's, while simultaneously breaking new ground.
Scriptwriter, Derek Kolstad ensures that the film avoids falling into the same trap that many sequels usually find themselves in... rehashing the original.
Kolstad instead expands upon the mythology that was slightly touched on in the original, introducing the criminal underworld and its assassins.
The film's plot goes in a different direction, taking John on a global-trotting action-soaked bloodbath; and at one point has the roles reversed when assassins start hunting him. Kolstad makes sure that there are many plot-twists abound, instead of sticking to the standard action movie formula.
Story-wise, John Wick 2 comes close to matching the original; but unfortunately falls short as it fails to capture the same emotional intensity of the first film. John's personal revenge in the original was far more powerful, since it relates to his deceased wife; while the titular character's revenge in the sequel has a less emotional resonance.
While the sequel may have a larger plot in place, the overload of action sequences does not give the story enough room to breathe.
Like the original, Chapter 2 is also a character-driven piece that explores the complex assassin who just wants to retire in peace. Kolstad gives the character ample time to develop, while exploring a new side to John – and Reeves is definitely up to the task.
The actor once again proves why he's perfectly suited for the role of the assassin with a few words, delivering a robust performance.
Reeves excels in bringing out John's ferocity, as well as his vulnerabilities. The actor effortlessly tangles with the character's complexities, and once again cements himself as a reliable action star.
Ground-breaking stunts, unapologetic action and a new direction make John Wick: Chapter 2 a worthy follow-up – even though it falls slightly short from topping the original.