Out Of Gas?
♦Out now on Blu Ray and DVD, Tripwire’s editor-in-chief JOEL MEADOWS took a look at John Wick: Chapter 2, starring Keanu Reeves…
John Wick: Chapter 2
Director: Chad Stahelski
Stars: Keanu Reeves, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ian McShane, Ruby Rose, Common, Laurence Fishburne
John Wick when it was released back in 2014 was a film that had fairly limited expectations. Reeves’ career had come to a bit of a standstill and he wasn’t the Hollywood action star he was in The Matrix. The first John Wick was inventive, exciting and rather enjoyable. So a sequel was inevitable.
But can they recapture the same sense of invention and style that Stahelski managed with the first film, taking an actor whose career had flagged and injecting some new verve into proceedings? Sadly the answer mostly is no.
The first film hinged on the theft of his car and the murder of his dog, which reminded him of the loss of his wife. It was shot and edited in a way that we hadn’t seen often before and so it felt fresh. John Wick: Chapter 2 opens with a protracted car chase between Wick and some Russian gangsters, connected to the ones from the first film. However, logic is thrown out of the window. The first scene deals with him coming to reclaim his car which is a prized possession, and once he gets his car back, he proceeds to smash it to pieces in the aforementioned car chase.
The main thrust of the second film is that Wick appears to have left his old life behind mostly until Santino D’Antonio (Scamarcio) comes to him to honour a debt, which forces him back into his old profession. It turns out that D’Antonio is not as honourable as he first seems and so Wick is forced on the back foot, with a bounty on his head.
John Wick: Chapter 2 reveals more about the world of Wick and the Continental hotel, that mysterious chain populated seemingly by the world’s greatest assassins. But sometimes the more you reveal about something, the less fascinating it becomes.
As it progresses, the film becomes nothing more than a series of increasingly stupid fights and chases interspersed with a fairly thin plot. Ian McShane as head of The Continental Winston lends a little class here but it isn’t enough.
A little like The Matrix, John Wick was an entertaining and tantalising glimpse into a new world but Hollywood doesn’t learn that just because something works well once, that doesn’t mean that you should keep going back to the well.
So it sets things up for another sequel and there is also talk of a TV series set in the world of The Continental.
It would have been better if they had just left it with John Wick. It isn’t a terrible film but it is pretty redundant and has a much more inferior script than its progenitor. We do get to see an onscreen reunion between Reeves and his Matrix co-star Laurence Fishburne here which is fun. But it isn’t enough. John Wick: Chapter 2 is sledgehammer where John Wick was clever, clumsy where its predecessor was subtle. It feels just like another generic action film whereas John Wick was off-kilter enough that it didn’t. It is possible that they may be able to incorporate the elements that made the first one work with the third film but the worry is that they have stretched what was a well made self-contained film into a rather flimsy trilogy. Time will tell.
John Wick: Chapter 2 is out now on Blu Ray and DVD.