Movie Review | John Wick: Chapter 2
Movie summary: After returning to the criminal underworld to repay a debt, John Wick discovers that a large bounty has been put on his life. (IMDb)
As I said in my review of John Wick, I came to this series very late and only thanks to being pestered by friends. In fact, I only got to this movie last weekend, much to the annoyance of said friends wanting to go and see the third movie and having to wait for me to catch up. Well, I'm caught up now and I have to say that I'm a little disappointed.
John Wick: Chapter 2 falls very much into the same trap that Iron Man 2 did - hoping that you like the central character enough to not notice that there's very little story and lots of setting up and world-building instead. This movie is a little better at avoiding the biggest missteps of the Marvel Studios movie, but still doesn't really come close to matching the original film.
In fact, this really does feel like the first piece of a two-part story, with everything that happens here serving as set-up for the next movie. There's still plenty of cool, creative action sequences, but they're the high point, with a pretty poor central story simply shuffling pieces into place to make sure Chapter 3 works the way it's supposed to.
I feel especially sorry for Riccardo Scamarcio, who plays the primary antagonist of Santino D'Antonio, because he's given such shallow material to work with here. He's established near the start as a deathly serious threat to Wick, but is almost laughably non-threatening by the end of the movie. It's a stark contrast to the first film, which kept the ultimate outcome on a knife edge until the very end.
Also, there's yet another female foe for Wick to fight, in what feels like a reluctant nod towards diversity, especially as Ares (played by Ruby Rose) is also mute and communicates in sign language to tick another box for representation. She's never really a threat towards Wick, and neither does she play any part in moving the story forward - she's just there to add a female presence to the action and nothing more.
The action is still excellent though, even if it does veer dangerously close to parody at times, especially with how many random people appear to be assassins or other killers out to claim the bounty placed on Wick in this movie. I get that people liked the slightly-secret society of killers in the first film, but Chapter 2 takes it a little bit too far here.
Winston and the Continental re-appear again and Ian McShane is as merrily dangerous as before, but it does all start to feel a little bit hollow. These background elements were just that in John Wick, but having the light shone on them exposes how little depth there really is to these pieces of Wick's world when you take a closer look.
Chapter 2 is still an enjoyable film, but can't measure up to the first movie in the series despite still featuring some amazing action sequences. Too much time is given to the background stuff, at times almost forgetting about giving the title character something to do that means more than looking cool in a suit while blowing away bad guys.
John Wick: Chapter 2 still contains plenty of amazing action, but isn't as taut or cohesive an experience as the first movie. It falls into the trap of trying to expand the world around the main character, while giving him little more to do than proceed through a series of action sequences that never really connect properly. Decent fun, but a little bit too silly this time.