JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2
Director: Chad Stahelski
Screenwriter: Derek Kolstad
Country: USA/Hong Kong
Runtime: 122 mins
Australian release date: 18 May 2017
Previewed at: Paramount Pictures Theatrette, Pyrmont, Sydney on 8 May 2017
John Wick: Chapter 2 picks up where John Wick left off but while the first film was a pretty exhilarating ride, this OTT sequel disappoints. It’s a case of more is less.
Directed once again by Chad Stahelski, the film opens with retired hitman Wick (Keanu Reeves) attempting to collect his vintage ’69 Mustang from the Russian mobsters who’d stolen it in the first film. In the ensuing fight, the car is trashed but Wick considers the debt settled and makes peace with the mob boss, one of the last men standing. Returning to his opulent home and the companionship of his new puppy, he’s about to resume his life of retirement when a mafia capo, Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio), calls in his marker and compels Wick to take on the job of assassinating his sister so that he can fill her position at organised crime’s top table.
The subsequent mayhem involves various lowlifes and ‘men of honour’ played by a stellar cast, among them Ruby Rose, Common, John Leguizamo, Laurence Fishburne and, reprising his role from the first chapter, Ian McShane. These encounters send the script into freefall, however, with relentless gun battles, car chases and a body count that’s so ridiculous you soon lose interest as the corpses pile up and up. The computer game-like violence supports the movie’s premise that in this secret underworld of assassins, “it’s never worth stabbing the Devil in the back”, Wick of course being the Devil.
This overwrought piece of film-making targets the same audience of adolescent males who secured the massive box office takings of the original and in this it will probably succeed but John Wick: Chapter 2 lacks the style and balletic grace of John Wick. It’s aided to a degree by the fabulous locations in NYC and Rome, and Wick’s new four-legged friend brings a bit of an ‘aww’ factor to the film, but even these pleasures can’t save this over-excited effort.