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John Wick: Chapter 2 Review by Sean Harrison
Before first seeing Chad Strahelski’s John Wick: Chapter 2, I probably should have seen the first movie since this one picks up only moments later. That being said, this is an action movie so it’s not too hard to figure out what is going on. Also, Strahelski lost his co-director David Leitch to the upcoming second Deadpool movie. However, Keanu Reeves is back as John Wick with Common, Lawrence Fishburne, Riccardo Scamararcio, Ruby Rose and Ian McShane rounding out the supporting cast. Now, let’s backtrack a couple sentences to discuss the story.
Like I said, it picks up right after the previous movie with getting back his car (and ultimately having it destroyed in his escape). Soon after, he is met at his house by a mobster that tries to recruit him. Wick turns the mobster down, only to have his house blown up as a result. This leads to him having no choice but to kill the mobster’s sister (at said mobster’s behest). This particular death scene has emotional weight, due to their past friendship. In the end though, that doesn’t matter. Afterwards, there is a 7 million dollar bounty places on Wick’s head. From there, the movie descends into more of straight up action movie with some rather brutal action sequences involved. Towards the end of the movie, there is a fight scene in a house of mirrors that is reminiscent of either “the Lady from Shanghai” or “Enter the Dragon.” Only the house of mirrors is much more impressive.
Anyway, that brings me to what I like and what I didn’t. One thing I noticed is how well made this movie really is. I grew up during the 80s and 90s, so I’m used to action movie directors using what I call “the point and shoot philosophy,” meaning they just point the camera in the direction of the action and see what happens. Very few directors can pull that off effectively. Thankfully, Strahelski made no attempt to see if he can. Instead, he relied on a moving camera and actually seemed like he was trying to get the best image possible. This is especially notable in the previously-mentioned house of mirrors when—during the fight—he aims the camera at the participants’ reflection in the floor. Also, he does something very few directors do well by cutting between several fight scenes (each of them involving Keanu Reeves with someone else). I was surprised how well that worked since normally I can’t stand action movies that do that. In fact, I can’t really think of much I don’t like with the movie—my only gripe being that it feels like the second episode of a serial-based TV series like 24 or Prison Break. Only, I now have two years to wait for the next episode instead of a week (or year for season finales).