John Wick: Chapter 2, Second to none

How is John Wick like a car?

No, this isn’t an impossible question, like “How is a raven like a writing desk?” My question has an answer. A bullet-filled, bruised, answer.

JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 starts with a bang. Picking up soon after the last film ended, we rejoin Wick (Keanu Reeves) as he is at the tail end of his vengeance, finally reclaiming his stolen car. The car still lies captive with the Russian gangsters who suffered the misfortune of having one of their own steal from Wick. Though the battle won in the first film could never bring back his wife or his puppy, he is getting that car back, dammit.

Chasing a motorcycle to the warehouse that holds the car, Wick continues to earn his reputation as a slick “boogeyman” who can never be beat. After stealing the car back, and paying a visit to the new head of the Russian mafia, Wick and his car thrash their way out of the warehouse, beaten but victorious.

Rolling back home in his liberated but now hobbling car we can see all of Wick’s best qualities reflected in this heap of steel. The best part of John Wick is not that he does not get hit; it is that he gets back up. Wick can be bloodied within an inch of his life, robbed of all that he loves, and shot multiple times in the gut, but he keeps going. This car is missing its doors, a windshield, and has significant damage to its basic stricture, but it gets the job done and gets Wick home. This is why we love Wick, and this is why we are always cheering him on.

Compared to the first film in the franchise, JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 brings just as much action, with a touch more plot. The first film was straight revenge, but here we have revenge with plenty more insight into the world of organized crime. The off-the-grid currency, hotels, and cell phones play a much larger part in this installment, and Wick’s world of crime is richer because of that. But with this comes a world of hierarchy, political allegiances, and traditions. Never complicated or confusing, the more involved plot in CHAPTER 2 only slightly distracts from the kicking and shooting action.

And what wonderful action there is! From foot races to car chases, the action I wanted to see in this film is all here, and in spades. The fight choreography and lush visuals are some of the best cinematic action of the last five years. The audience was whipping between cheering aloud for every powerful hit and wincing in empathetic pain with every powerful hit.

It is rare that a sequel lives up to the hype generated by its predecessor, but then again, it is rare to have an action hero as slick and unbeatable as John Wick. He may not make it out of this fight untouched, but at least the dog does.

Deirdre Crimmins

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Deirdre (Dede) lives in Cleveland (via Boston) with two black cats. She writes for Film Thrills, Cinematic Essential, The Brattle Theater, Rue Morgue Magazine, Bitch Flicks, and anyone else who will let her drone on about genre film. She wrote her Master's thesis on George Romero and is always hopeful that Hollywood will get its head out of its ass.

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  1. BOFCA REVIEW ROUND-UP: 02/10/2017 | Boston Online Film Critics Association

    […] “It is rare that a sequel lives up to the hype generated by its predecessor, but then again, it is rare to have an action hero as slick and unbeatable as John Wick.” – Deirdre Crimmins, Film Thrills […]

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