How Action Films should be shot (again)
John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017): An ex-hitman comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that took everything from him.
Before we go any further, and if you're a fan of action movies.....stop reading. Drop everything and go see this. If you are a fan of the action genre and somehow missed the first John Wick, change that. Right now. Because John Wick is easily one of the best action flicks of this decade, and this second film somehow lives up to its predecessor. Yes. Once more, like with the original, I freaking love this movie. It is wonderfully shot, choreographed, and executed. There really isn't anything out there filmed quite like John Wick, and when I come out of these movies I'm really baffled that there aren't any imitators yet. There are problems with this film, yes, but man. If you want amazing action sequences.....look no further than this.
So what makes John Wick's action so great? I think it's really the choreography of it all. The sequences are meticulously staged, right down to ensuring that an empty clip of Wick's gets thrown in the perfect spot and hits the wall at just the right time. The choreography in this film follows closely with it's predecessor, and given the fact that this is easily the best part of this franchise (and what makes John Wick, well, John Wick) I am amazed that the copycats haven't sprung up just yet. Looks like that might change with 2017's Ghost in the Shell, but we'll have to wait and see. Additionally, what makes the action sequences so great here is the camera placement. Stuntman-turned director Chad Stahelski is very conscious of where the camera is placed at any moment in these action sequences, and thanks to its wide lens the viewer is able to see everything going on. No shaky cam! No uncomfortable close ups! Just as many wide-shots as possible. And when the action does move into a more claustrophobic area towards the end of the film, the camera still gives us enough of a wide-shot to not get too disoriented.
While the action sequences are still the calling card for John Wick, this film also investigated the alternate universe that its creating. More so than the first one. Unfortunately this is where a few small missteps occur, as we see some of these big sequences take place in highly populated areas of the world and yet no one around these assassins ever blinks an eye. Like if someone fired a gun in a subway the people wouldn't go nuts. Because they, you know, don't want to get caught in the crossfire. But beyond that I loved the world-building that takes place in this film. It has just enough rules to be interesting while being grounded enough to be believable. Finally, I have to talk about this legendary cast. The marketing team focused on the reunion of Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne, but I was more intrigued by the cameos from acting legends, including Mario Donatone, Peter Stormare, and Franco Nero. It felt like every scene I was going, "Hey! I know that guy!" which is always fun. At the end of the day it felt like people wanted to be in this, and hopefully that continues with the inevitable next installment. While it's not quite as good as the original, if nothing else John Wick: Chapter 2 solidifies this franchise's place at the top of the action movie genre. Now if you're still here and even remotely like action movies.....go see this.
The Critique: While not quite as good as its predecessor, John Wick: Chapter 2 solidifies this franchise's place at the top of the action genre thanks to its breathtaking fight sequences.
The Recommendation: An ABSOLUTE must-watch for any action fan or fan of Keanu Reeves.
The Verdict: 8/10 Great (though not quite as strong an 8 as I gave its predecessor)
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