The elegantly structured scenes, long-shot takes of choreographed fight scenes and surroundings that invade your optics make “John Wick: Chapter 2” something very rare in film — a sequel that’s crafted better than its predecessor.
The film is aptly titled “Chapter 2” because it is a genuine continuation of the first film.
Tension is used throughout the film in the same way it’s used in thrillers, more so than in standard American action films. The opening scene hooks the viewers back into the world of Wick, while also wrapping up the first chapter with a bloody bow. It builds and builds for over forty minutes until it lets the arsenal loose.
Structured similarly to martial arts films, the film is centered in reality. In the world of American action films being filled with cars that drive from skyscraper to skyscraper, the combat is on the ground with guns, knives and fists. “Chapter 2” is nurtured with brilliant stunt work, gorgeous atmospheres and a dedication from Keanu Reeves that should make fellow action stars blush.
The aged architecture of Rome and the blinding whites of New York City subway walls provide more than just pretty backgrounds for bullets to penetrate at whim. The camera pulls back to incorporate the environments to become a character in the scenes themselves.
Action films do occasionally fall into that 1980s cliché of talking in one-liners and having characters that feel largely disjointed from reality. “John Wick: Chapter 2” is no exception. It’s varied. Some of the characters will stick to the scene or fall into a cycle of being stereotypical action villains.
It’s acceptable to believe that John Wick has 100 percent accuracy with headshots because it’s just beautiful to watch his violent poetry in motion. But the first big shootout scene got redundant very quickly and took me out of the film. The backdrop for the third act was also a convenient and unnecessary plot device.
Even with its faults, “John Wick: Chapter 2” is everything an action film should aspire to be. Colors pierce through the screen throughout the third act in a way I haven’t seen in a film in years. It rewards its audience eternally with action scenes that provoke cheers and awe. Bring the film world more tales of John Wick and let us hope these films influence Hollywood to take action films seriously again.
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