Thumbs up or thumbs down? Simple, spoiler free reviews.
After leaving a trail of destruction behind him getting vengeance over his dead dog in the first film, legendary hitman John Wick is forced back out of retirement to repay a debt. Bound by a blood oath, John travels to Rome to complete his job. Soon after though Wick discovers that a large bounty has been put on his life.
The first John Wick was a complete surprise. It had no right being as good as it was. The problem is that John Wick wasn’t really designed to have a sequel or become a franchise and this new film does suffer in its opening third as they try to re-position everything back into working order. It also can’t match the emotional hook that the original had.
Simply put, the Wick character doesn’t have the same motivations. The bad guys didn’t kill his puppy this time, they just want him dead. Now granted I’m glad they didn’t try to do the exact same thing again but it’s got to be said without that driving Wick. The film does lack in meaning, depth and emotions. It does at times feel empty. Knowing it can’t compete, instead it just takes everything else and turns it up to ten. More guns, more gore and more action. It’s slick, it’s stylish and it’s body count is through the roof.
It’s a philosophy that works for a while, but I’ll admit I did become numb to the back to back to back action scenes. However, I do have to make a point of saying how well everything is shot. The film isn’t overly reliant on shaky cam and quick camera cuts. Instead we have longer shots showing the ebb and flow of the fights. It’s really good.
Another problem this film has is that yes, while it’s apparent that John Wick is really good with guns. Is he really the best hitman ever or is everyone else just really bad? Storm Trooper quality aiming here. Not that it matters, Wick is (unofficially) indestructible. Stabbed in the leg? He’ll run a marathon straight after. Hit him with your car? He’ll get up first! Actually managed to shoot him? He’ll shake it off in a couple of minutes thanks to his sweet bullet proof assassin suit. Basically, they’ve removed all threats to him, which reduces the stakes. He’s like Superman or Wolverine, too powerful to worry about.
At this point the John Wick franchise is an excuse for action scenes. Granted there is some really interesting lore that is hinted at . I’d love to know more, but that and the story really just take a back seat.
Much like with the original, John Wick Chapter 2 won’t be for everyone. At times I’ll even admit that I didn’t think it was for me. Action is fun and all, but I do want a little bit more substance you know? Ultimately it’s not as good as the first, so in a way I could give it a thumbs down. I think that’s unfair though because in reality this is exactly what the film advertised itself to be. The bottom line is, John Wick is all about action and it does action scenes really, really well.