John Wick: Chapter 2 is the sequel to the surprisingly brilliant 2014 adaptation of the graphic novel of the same name and it sees the titular hitman returning for another bullet ballet with only the meagerest of plots to bolster it.
Again, the plot, such as it is, could be written on half of a Post-It Note. All I will say is that it opens immediately after the first film and the film does have sliiightly more story to it this time around. Basically, this film is 132 minutes of achingly stylish and beautifully choreographed action. The film is shot with the cool precision of an aftershave advert, except with thousands of bullets, guns, knives, chest-thumps, head-shots and arm-snaps.
The action is wince-inducing and brilliantly realised: much like ‘The Raid’ and its sequel, ‘Ong-Bak’ and the brilliantly under-rated Malaysian action ‘Chocolate’ (no, not the Johnny Depp French sweetshop one) there are no safety mats, no Wire-Fu, no CGI.
Oh no, this is two solid hours of people being hit by cars, pushed through windows, shot, stabbed, thrown down stairs, necks snapped, knees shot out (alot)…you get the idea.
Weirdly, Keanu’s “acting” (also such as it is) actually seems to be getting worse over the years and he is laughably poor in this film, but given the blank, apathetic nature of the character and the brutally cold context of the film, it actually works to a fitting and humourous advantage here.
Much like the Milla Jovovich sci-fi action film ‘Ultraviolet’ , anybody who has seen the first John Wick will know that this is a series of John Wick walking into a series of rooms, staring intently, before wiping out legions of anonymous – and very nicely besuited – goons.
Except ‘Ultraviolet’ was, let’s face it, turgid.
Much like ‘The Raid 2’ , just when you think you’ve seen the best action scene of the whole film, the next one comes along – dockyard…Rome…Subway…art gallery – and the film culminates with a very Po-Mo twist on another martial arts classic: don’t worry, you’ll know it when you see it.
Also drawing on ‘The Raid 2’ comparisons, so relentless is the wave of brutal violence washing over the audience, it really is just case of sitting back and enjoying every minute of it, if brutal violence is your thing.
A certain mid-film cameo will make you momentarily think it’s 1999 again, except with stubble, beards, Hobo overcoats and racing pigeons.
Essentially, the whole film is like an action film directed by a fashion designer, with the crisp, elegant finesse of a finely-tailored suit. Ian MacShane does his usual schtick (but he does it SO well!) of loucheing about, delivering superb monologues in his bassy, eloquent tones and the film is set up in a stunning manner for the inevitable Chapter 3.
All-in-all, two hours of brutal, bruising, bone-crunching barbarity and balls-to-the-wall action.
Easily the best action film since (not surprisingly) ‘The Raid 2’ and that is saying something very nice indeed.
A magnificently choreographed piece of action cinema.
Roll on Chapter Three.
Project Square Eyes (Monday the 13th November 2017)