Just when he thought he was out, they pulled him back in…again. John Wick, one of the world’s deadliest assassins, is once again drawn out of retirement in John Wick: Chapter 2.
Most big action movies, much like horror movies, are intrinsically comedic. They’re not about jokes, but the situations themselves can be so over-the-top ridiculous, that they’re almost laughable. But that’s not always a bad thing. If treated properly, it can actually be what makes an action movie great (like in the Fast and Furious flicks). It’s a fine line to walk, and most movies fail to walk it gracefully, but the John Wick franchise is proving itself to be a fine tightrope artist.
John Wick: Chapter 2 succeeds in the same way its predecessor did: it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It knows that the things John Wick can do are absurd, like shoot with perfect accuracy every time, and it embraces that. It even sometimes feels like there are certain beats built in for the audience to chuckle in disbelief. But, while it has fun, it never feels outright cheesy or dumb.
The action sequences in this film are excellent, and are hands down the reason to take the trip to the theater. The filmmakers don’t rely on shaky cam or quick cuts to cop out and disorient the audience. They trust in their stunt work, and in their actors. It feels pure and authentic, and it pays off big time.
There is some time in the middle of the story where things seem to drag on, but that’s only because the action stops to propel the narrative. In a movie like John Wick, you’re in it for the action, so it’s easy to get a little bored when that element takes a back seat. But no worries – it comes back with gusto.
Finally, while the action is the main reason to see John Wick: Chapter 2, there is one notable performance that bears mentioning. Keanu Reeves is solid as the titular character, sure, but the real standout is Ian McShane as Winston. McShane plays his role with such gravitas that you almost forget you’re watching brain candy. He’s the kind of character that you’ll long to see more of, but hopefully never do. His allure is in the mystery.
The Bottom Line
This movie isn’t high art, but it’s a fun ride, and a good chance to turn your brain off and enjoy yourself. Isn’t that what an action movie is supposed to be?