‘John Wick: Chapter 2’ Review: An Action Movie Sequel For Art House Fans

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The canine-loving Boogeyman is back, and it has never looked this good

The first John Wick impressively took a rather far-fetched plot and made it work. Never in a million years would I have thought that a guy who goes on a murderous rampage because his dog got kill would make such a compelling and beautiful movie. John Wick: Chapter 2 takes a far-fetched plot and builds a far-fetched world where everyone kills everyone and surprisingly, it still works. All of it still works perfectly.

After the events of the first movie, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) has one last mission to do before he retires. He needs to get his car back. Being branded as The Boogeyman, myths and folk tales have gone around about how badass Mr. Wick really is. After getting his car back, Wick can finally retire with his brand new dog. However, Aurolio (John Lehuizamo) forces him to get back to work. This time, Wick is to kill Aurolio’s sister, Gianna (Claudia Gerini).

From the first action set piece, you have an idea on how John Wick: Chapter 2 will deliver its action. Using moderate editing and impressive camera work, all of Chapter 2‘s action set pieces are deliciously appealing to the eyes. Cinematographer Dan Leausten is the man behind the gorgeous shots. His work resembles more that of arthouse films than a straight-forward action movie. It is his cinematography that helps elevate and showcase the strengths of John Wick: Chapter 2. For further confirmation that the sequel appeals to art-lovers everywhere, Chapter 2 has quite a thrilling and mesmerizing action set piece in an art gallery. Again, much of its appeal hinges on Leausten’s beautiful cinematography.

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Mr. Wick’s got a new dog and stylish new movie

As the first John Wick was more story-oriented, its sequel is more oriented towards building the world that which Mr. Wick inhabits. This isn’t the world we are living in, this is more of a surrealistic world. Nothing is as it seems in John Wick: Chapter 2. The writers further the mythology of the famous Continental Hotel while adding in some more surprising elements. The second chapter makes it clear – anything can happen in this world. While it may seem like it’s reaching at first, by the end, you will forgive whatever sins it commits.

Nevertheless, I may be too forgiving for such a B-movie plot, but it champions its cause like other magnificent, stylish movies (including Mad Max: Fury Road and The Neon Demon). Both have been criticized for their style over substance issue and John Wick: Chapter 2 may fall in the same fate. But, I firmly believe that one of the most under-appreciated aspects of filmmaking is visual storytelling, and this exciting sequel conveys much of it visually.

With that said, some of the performances in this movie don’t actually work, especially Ruby Rose, who plays Santino’s mute sidekick. Her facial expressions are too exaggerated and her being silent screams “bad actress” every time she spoke with her hands. Though, Rose wasn’t the only one who felt forced. Santino, Chapter 2‘s villain, seems weaved in and not as interesting as the first movie’s villain.

Ultimately, Ian McShane’s Winston takes center stage in a finale that will make you beg for a third film. Fans of action and indie movies will find plenty to like here, and while it seems impossible to please both fandoms if there is any movie that can achieve it, my money is on the John Wick films.

GRADE: A-

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