John Wick Chapter Two

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At the end of my review for the first John Wick movie I wrote this about the already announced sequel:

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The second movie will need to find a tricky balance. It will have to add more depth to the story without over complicating the effectively straight forward premise. 

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As it turns out the film makers did not agree with me. Thankfully they haven’t over complicated things; this isn’t going the route of The Matrix or The Pirates of the Caribbean series. Those sequels added so much mythology and background to the worlds they had created that everything that was fun about the original story’s got crushed under the weight of the narrative. Neither though did they feel the need to add any extra dimension at all to what they already had. The first film was basically just Keanu Reeves’ hitman going around shooting and punching everyone and this one is exactly the same. Then it was new and exciting, now it is less new and exciting. 

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You can’t deny that what John Wick does it does very well. The close quarters gun play is still exhilarating and often surprising. All of the in camera action is equally impressive but this film really does just carry on in the manner of its predecessor. Whereas the Fast & the Furious movies are continually trying to outdo themselves with increasingly more audacious stunts, this flick just stages similar fights in slightly more expensive looking locations. 

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The film does provide additional detail on the intricacies and workings of the assassins’ world in which Mr Wick lives and operates. There are some nice quirks here with communications being carried out in an old school, almost steampunk, fashion that jars a little with the rest of the film but is fun. You also learn quite how many hired killers there are in this community. It is hard to imagine that there is enough business to sustain this many operatives although there are a lot less of them by the end of the movie.

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The other thing about this picture that places it more alongside B-movies like The Transporter and Taken is the B-list bad guy. Rather than go for a big name character actor like the Die Hard films or anything with Jerry Bruckheimer’s name attached to it we just get a forgettable performance from a forgettable actor. It’s isn’t as though there aren’t recognisable people elsewhere in the cast with Peter Stormare, Ian McShane, Common and Laurence Fishburne all popping up. (It is nice to see Fishburne and Reeves talking about having a past together and even better when the former gives the latter guns. He needs guns, give him guns.) Ruby Rose does a good job as the Bond hench(wo)man with a gimmick but a better villain would have given this movie more to sell itself on.

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I enjoyed John Wick Chapter 2 but I might as well have stayed at home and watched the first one again. I can’t help but feel that with Moonlight, Lion and Manchester by the Sea all out there as yet unseen I might have wasted a trip to the cinema.

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The third movie will need to find a tricky balance. It will have to add more depth to the story without over complicating the effectively straight forward premise.

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