John Wick: Chapter 2  has gathered an ever-growing fan base due to the surprising hit of the 2014 predecessor. Director Chad Stahelski worked with Keanu Reeves as a stuntman and coordinator for The Matrix and its following sequels so he obviously has a keen eye for action – which made the original so … original. However, the beauty of the first was its unanticipated status so audiences have learned what to expect from Chapter 2. Does it have the same impact as the first?
The Continental: In tradition, of most mainstream blockbusters nowadays, there is actually a John Wick Cinematic Universe. This universe is the modern, everyday world but with a large population of assassins and hitmen that live alongside them. The unique aspect is that two opposing lifestyles live with each other without ever causing damage – it feels like two parallel narratives. The Continental – a series of safehouses/ hotels in the assassin world – lives by personal rules and laws that offer protection to hitmen – which absolutely must not be broken. Recognizing these rules distinguishes John Wick from other action thrillers as it somewhat creates mythology within the organization.
Everybody Loves Keanu! As easily the most lovable actor of our generation, you wouldn’t mess with Mr. Keanu Reeves. In this case, you wouldn’t mess with Mr. Keanu Reeves for a second time – especially since he has some cleaning up to do. Reeves has the undeniable acrobatic ability to meet the insanely high stunt standards Stahelski has set but still unable to convey emotion or coherent acting. So the conversational scenes hurt to watch mumbling ‘actors’ talk at each other whilst the action sequences are entrancing. But, as the legend goes, “the stories you hear about this man, if nothing else, will be watered down.”
Fine Wine and Tailored Suits: Rather than the scummy back alleys of America, Mr. Wick travels to Rome this time in search of his bounty. Italy acts as a prime location for a Bond-esque montage of Reeves testing out custom weaponry and donning fancy suits (some with armor) instead of sightseeing or fine wine tasting. This will ultimately lead him into the Italian catacombs where the graceful setting can be exposed in its true beauty whilst raising the body count. Country hopping also explains the vastness of the Continental Hotel and its effect on the world – it’s pretty large.
“Excellent!” *jams air guitar* I somewhat feel like John Wick aspires to replicate Asian Cinema (especially martial arts) to segregate itself from the competition – widely Bourne or Bond. The new steady camera way of filming action (or gun-fu) looks slick whilst maintaining a level of discipline. We can actually see the gunplay and melee rather than being cut away or visibly blurred – but highlights how crucial stunt choreography is. And especially when a long take is in play, it oozes dedication and craftsmanship.