Review: John Wick: Chapter 2

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Distributor: Summit Entertainment
Director: Chad Stahelski
Writer: Derek Kolstad
Cast: Keanu Reeves, John Leguizamo, Common, Riccardo Scamario, Margaret Daley, Laurence Fishburne
Genre: Action & Adventure, Drama
Rating: R
After watching and witnessing the first chapter of the franchise, every part of me wanted a sequel. My only concerns were living up to the premise of the first and the loss of the first’s co-director and co-writer. Despite these oppositions, the film blew me away in its action-packed, shootout delivery. Definitely worth the wait and worth the watch.

Content Guide

Violence/Scary Images: Graphic gun violence throughout from head shots to chest shots. Along with this are bloody knife fights and martial art battles that end in broken bones and broken necks. While it is certainly action-packed, it is definitely not safe for kids as it is aimed directly for adults.
Language/Crude Humor: In English, Russian, and ASL, profanity is used throughout from ‘F’ bombs to the use of God’s name being taken in vain.
Spiritual Content: While the supernatural and spiritual realm is not to be seen, references and comparisons to Wick being the Devil who was stabbed in the back after leaving the life he once knew.
Sexual Content: While sexual intercourse is not shown, there is a scene of a female warlord undressing before John in her private dressing room. Though her chest and lower back remains off camera or covered by her arms, she is full nude for nearly 5-7 minutes.
Drug/Alcohol References: Drinking takes place at bars and parties but nothing beyond that.
Other Negative Content: Revenge by taking to violence plays a huge factor in the film let alone the franchise.
Positive Content: It is really difficult to say as to what positive content would be in a film such as this. Other than the fact that no dogs were harmed, unlike the previous film, there really isn’t much positivity.

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When the first installment–or chapter–was released in 2014, it took both audiences and critics by great surprise as to how great it was from its simple and solid story to its practical effects, choreographed fight scenes, and cinematography. When the news was released that a sequel was to be released, it is safe to say that fans and critics had concerns as to how it would follow-up on such a priceless story. While the first installment still remains as the best out of the two, the sequel–or second chapter–certainly lived up to fans expectations in its twists and turns, hardcore shootouts, and well done ending.
Keanu Reeves is known more than just for action films such as the Matrix (1999), Speed (1994), and 47 Ronin (2013). He is also known for doing his own stunts, choreographed fight scenes, and even car chases. In John Wick: Chapter 2, he trained with a champion marksman over the course of pre-production and production due to the fact that more shootouts took place throughout the film than the previous installment. All his training, stunts, and driving paid of greatly as the film has done significantly well in the box office and among fans and critics.
One may think that the action in the beginning set the tone of what was to come. That being said, audiences will be blown away by what the film really has to offer in the second half in both the action and story. While the dialogue in a number of ways comes off as cheesy or forced, Keanu Reeves makes that dialogue stick simply by the fact that it is who his character is. Another character that honestly deserves recognition is none-other than Common himself. While being known as a rapper, Common has significantly worked his way up in Hollywood from the AMC series Hell on Wheels (November 2011-December 2016) to films such as Wanted (2008). In John Wick: Chapter 2, Common goes up against Wick himself on numerous occasions throughout as he puts up a rather good fight. In some cases, one would even root for his character due to his various skill sets and his motivations.

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What made the previous film stand on its own was the reason as to why John came out of retirement. After losing the one gift–a cute, innocent puppy–that his wife gave him before she died, who wouldn’t want to seek revenge? It was a simple yet compelling argument as to why a retired assassin would return for blood. While the the reason for coming back again in Chapter 2 was reasonable, it did not have the impact as that the previous chapter had. The previous was done out of anger, rage, and even love. In the sequel, it was done primarily out of a debt. This being said, it also showed that John Wick still did not want the live the life he previously had, revealing the humanity he had left in him to live a peaceful life.
By the second half of the film, his motives quickly change as more is revealed when he takes on the assassination job in Rome. This alone reveals more of the reason as to why he would continue fighting not just in the film, but in the possibility of a third sequel, or in this case, chapter. Aside from this, the film also does slow down at certain points during the middle-half. While the dialogue does contribute to the overall story, the dialogue in the previous film did take as much as time. Nothing to really worry about, just something that significantly stood out.
In the past year, it has been great to see that Hollywood can still make outstanding kick-butt action films with simple film plots and characters, such as Dredd (2012), Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), and now the John Wick franchise. While the first chapter stands out with a better premise, the action significantly stands out in the second chapter which won’t disappoint fan. With how the chapter came a close, it is safe to say that the rumors for a third sequel are definitely true.

Trey Soto

Trey Soto holds a B.A. in Communication Studies from Biola University, emphasis in Interpersonal/Rhetorical Theory. He has been a Film Critic/Analysis for over a year at Geeks Under Grace and other websites such as Temple of Geek. In his spare time, he enjoys comic book literature, screenwriting, production assistant freelancing, photography, cosplay, and hosting his own film podcast T.V. Trey on Podbean and iTunes.

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