John Wick: Chapter 2

John Wick: Chapter 2 ★★★★★

If action is an artform such as ballet - and why wouldn't it be? - then John Wick Chapter 2 is one of the finest performances you will ever see.

When a debt comes back to haunt him, John Wick is pulled back into the society of assassins, with higher stakes than ever.

If you've seen the first film, you know enough about the story. Early on you see a clip of Buster Keaton projected onto a building, and the message is loud and clear: you're about to be blown away by remarkable physical action of the sort that can only be attained on film, and from scene one to the very end the film delivers.

The really brilliant part of this one is that the plot is almost inconsequential, the only thing that really matters is how it manifests into lethal, beautiful, operatic life and death action choreography. The characters communicate through subtext, they already have an agreement about what's happening, so you can cut right through most of the exposition and deliver a fine meal instead. With that you have to swallow that the film is inherently absurd, in one of my favorite moments (although the entire film is a favorite moment) two characters are walking casually on two parallel levels in a subway, sneakily popping off shots at one another with silenced pistols. In a huge crowd. In broad daylight. We know that the police have an agreement with the assassins, or at least John himself, but something tells me you can't walk around the middle of a crowded downtown street and shoot people in the head with panache without any reactions or consequences. You go with it though, because that's the price you pay to justify the dance, and also, it's just great.

Some say Tom Cruise is the hardest working man in action films, but I think he's a close second. Yes, he performs death defying stunts at age 50-something, which is to be commended (I get winded when I walk to my mailbox and I'm 31 years old), but I still think Keanu takes the crown. There's little if any CGI here and he is just throwing himself around like a ragdoll, being beaten mercilessly and giving people pencil piercings in almost every single scene. And to top it all off, it's so graceful and choreographed, while still feeling dangerous and violent. Tom Cruise is more like an Evil Knievel, but Keanu is..well, I think it needs to be said, he's like an ice princess. Or some type of marvelous athlete of your choice.

I can't wait to see what they do with Chapter 3, hopefully it can continue the tradition of minimal hokey plot to maximum effect, because this one is like the Hollywood equivalent of those breathtaking martial arts films from China, but instead of jumping on leaves, he's jumping on people's faces, and instead of stabbing them with swords he's stabbing them with bullets. I was almost inclined to call it "action pornography", because it seems apt, but I think that also takes away from how much class and elegance there is to the film as well. If there's only one downside besides "throw logic out the window", it's that you have to see the first film before you watch this one, otherwise you'll be thrown off the deep end without a raft and all the wonderfully implicit qualities may go lost. So watch them both and don't just toss down a beer for this one. Open a bottle of wine and put on your Sunday finest. Class is in session.

Robin liked this review