Sign in

John Wick: Chapter 2

Long before it finally saw a UK release in April 2015, there were whispers from across the pond that we ought to get ready, that John Wick was coming. Fast, lean and a model of narrative economy, the film had seemingly come out of nowhere, stealth-attacking with a brutal efficiency and purpose befitting its suited and booted puppy avenger. The first film’s strengths lie in the concision of its world-building and the wit with which it establishes its underground criminal network. The broad strokes used to paint its grief-stricken protagonist’s backstory cast an iconic silhouette, even while playfully nipping at the heels of pantomime camp. The role fit Keanu Reeves’ brand of customised zen like an impeccably tailored glove – hardly surprising for an actor so consistently underrated. Perhaps the film’s ability to fly below-the-radar lay with its untested director, Reeves’ former Matrix stunt double, Chad Stahelski. It’s certainly a rare thrill to witness a first-timer handle action beats with such consummate regard for the possibilities of the frame over the cut. Such deference to the aesthetics of action reaches new heights in this sequel’s extended prologue. Playing like a standalone short that effectively bridges the two films – reiterating Wick’s boogeyman credentials and love for his ride – it’s an impeccably negotiated tour de force of movement and space. What better sign that you’re in safe hands than an opening shot that sees a Buster Keaton short projected onto the side of a building? It might be a bold move to acknowledge the master of screen physicality seconds ahead of your own action-ballet, but it’s a fearless statement of intent from Stahelski which he proceeds to attack with jaw-dropping fluidity and compositional flair. If nothing else in John Wick: Chapter 2 reaches the giddy heights of its opening gambit, it remains a treat; if one beset by familiar issues of franchise-baiting sequelitis. With a running time that tips over the two ...