In my last book, I reviewed the first John Wick, and earlier in this book, I reviewed the third chapter, so here I am closing the circle.
The John Wick series is a classic example of a franchise growing in scale with each instalment. The first film was one man looking for revenge after his dog was killed, by the time of the third instalment, that same man is travelling the world, fending off would-be assassins everywhere he goes.
But we get ahead of ourselves; the first film could well have been a self-contained singular story, but after its surprising success, it is no surprise a sequel was commissioned, so how does it up the stake, and does it match the same lofty heights?
John Wick’s re-emergence hasn’t gone unnoticed by the criminal underworld, he’s soon accosted by someone to whom he owes a debt and must take up arms once more.
Not only have the films stake naturally escalated between films, but the films visuals and stunt work has too.
Bathed in neon for most of the film, John Wick 2 has a dazzling noir style, not afraid to make itself more colourful than its predecessor, as well as more amorphous.
During the globe-trotting adventure, John Wick will partake in some incredible action sequences, including a scene in a hall of mirrors that might genuinely be an all-time great action scene, surrounded by squishy mortals to be used merely for target practise, Wick floats effortlessly through these scenes looking more and more invincible with each passing scene.
The story does suffer natural with being a ‘middle story’ situated in the midst of the flourishing franchise, it cannot help but feel anticlimactic in its build up to its sequel, this becomes more obvious as the film wears on and it becomes obvious that this film isn’t going to be the end for John Wick.
Keanu Reeves is a strange enigma of a man. Someone who possesses truly little natural acting talent yet continues to be both popular and watchable. Even if he doesn’t have the greatest range, he knows how to utilise his strengths, that’s why The Matrix worked so well for him, and why this franchise fits him like a glove too. He knows that the less he’s called upon to actually act, the better, and John Wick mainly grimaces, so we’re onto a winner.
I’d say that the franchise truly found its feet with its second film, sure the first established the character, but the second expanded, added to the mythos and made this world he inhabits so shrouded in mystery. The world of John Wick is one that seems familiar, but the more you look, the more alien it becomes.
All in all then, an excellent ramping up of the stakes from the first film, filling the gap between first and third and setting the course for the series as a whole. Keanu is at his best here and he’s surrounded by more capable, dynamic actors that flesh out the world. It would take a braver man than I to tarnish the name of John Wick.