At times it seems that the movie industry is obsessed with anthologies. The majority of the major released films are slated for a multiple franchise story, causing the audience to wait several years for the continued storying. I was late joining the John Wick juggernaut, and when I heard there wassequel I was indifferent. I wasn’t sure if they would be able to capture the lightning in the bottle phenomenon once more. Not only was I wrong, but my heart skips a beat knowing it’s planned as a trilogy.
John Wick: Chapter 2 is everything you didn’t know you wanted in a sequel. The film is bigger, badder, and ridiculously awesome. The type of film Chad Stahelski was able to create from Derek Kolstad’s characters is something magical. The beautiful cinematography feature some of the most jaw dropping action sequences in recent films. It’s a poetic gratuitous action film.
Chapter 2 picks up pretty much where the first film ended, allowing for the full circle of the epic first film. The catalyst for this addition happens before the audience can catch their breath from the opening action sequence. John Wick must repay an old debt, opening the doors to the possibility of anything and everything going wrong.
If you’re not familiar with the legendary story behind the JW crew, in short Stahelski was a respected stunt performer and coordinator, doubling for Keanu Reeves in The Matrix, and took the leap into directing with the first John Wick. This is an important fact to honor, as the action sequence in these films, especially Chapter 2, are not only a beautiful dance but one with immense power.
John Wick is an expert hitman who has mastered multiple elements of his craft. Watching Reeves expertly perform the action is mind-blowing. The Matrix was (gulp) 18 years ago, and Reeves has been perfecting his martial arts since then, but the ease in which he performs in Chapter 2 is as if he’s been studying his whole life. The casting of Reeves in a film like this may have been confusing, but it turns out this is the role he was meant to play. John Wick is a badass, as so is Reeves. I feel like I’m repeating myself explaining the action, when all I really want to say is that is awesome.
The action in this film is unbelievable, they don’t play around. The sequences look real and in real time, which is a huge feat accomplished by the talented stunt crew. If you ever wondered why there needs to be a Stunt category in the Oscars, this film is the reason. Every move was precise, brilliantly executed with clean lines and intense strength.
They were choreographed so perfectly they didn’t look rehearsed. The hits look like they hurt, and the editing is so seamless you question whether the actors themselves took the hits. Stunt Coordinators Marc Desourdy and J.J. Perry are artists, using the human body and martial arts as a blended medium. When fight scenes are organized it’s a sight to be seen, and an experience to watch.
The film does not only showcase brilliant fight scenes, it does so in a beautifully composed way. The composition of the shots Stahelski and his Cinematographer Dan Laustsen are stunning. Everything on the screen has its place, subtly adding an elegance to every frame. There is a care that’s put into all the elements that go into making a film, creating something much more than an action film. This film can be compared to some of the greatest poetic action films, and I now include Staheliski in the same breath as John Woo and Yimou Zhang.
This movie leaves the viewer speechless. Speechless because we are astonished at the perfection expressed though the action sequences. The gorgeous cinematography highlights the action in a way that brings a true meaning to poetry in motion. It’s a high octane action film with beautiful complimentary visuals. I will be surprised if I meet anyone who doesn’t love this film.
John Wick: Chapter 2 is now in theaters.
Written by Lisa Mejia
Images provided by Lionsgate