Although the 2014 sleeper-hit John Wick demonstrated an almost religious reverence for old-school action movies, it was not a movie caught in the past. Greatly informed by what had come before it, the film's imaginative flourishes nevertheless pushed the genre forward.
Picking up and running with the gauntlet forcefully thrown down by its predecessor, Chapter Two is another deliriously entertaining action romp that is driven more than anything by an admirable belief in itself.
The film picks up shortly after the events of the original film, which saw Keanu Reeves' soft-spoken hitman take wide-ranging revenge after his dog was killed. The ramifications of Wick's actions soon become apparent, and the resulting complications send him on a mission to Italy.
Where the first film took some interesting steps into world-building in terms of how it portrayed the insular, stylised world of master criminals and their lethally-gifted henchmen, the follow-up delights in expanding upon this mythology. The rules get more convoluted, but that only seems to up the stakes. In less confident hands, these elements would seem pretty ridiculous, but it all works here.
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With a little more money to play around with the, the action ante is also upped, but never at the expense of the tangible, grounded style that defined the original. As in that film, the action set-pieces here stand in proud contrast to the CGI-enhanced bluster that permeates blockbuster cinema.
Reeves' clear physical dedication to the role along with the measured, impactful editing ensures you feel every hit in the fight scenes. The gun play and automobile action are also executed with creative precision.
Although perhaps not for all audiences, John Wick: Chapter 2 is everything an action fan could wish for.
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Ian McShane, Ruby Rose
Rating: R16 (Graphic violence and suicide)
Running time: 122 mins
Verdict: Keanu delivers everything action fans could want