Keanu, killing it again

“John Wick: Chapter 2” picks up shortly after the events of the first film, as John Wick (Keanu Reeves) tries to return to a quiet life of retirement with his new dog. However, he is visited by Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) who demands that he assassinate his sister to satisfy a blood oath. After Wick reluctantly completes this task, D’Antonio double crosses him and sets up a contract of $7 million for his death. Wick then goes on a manhunt to kill D’Antonio and anyone who gets in his way.

The first film was not only one of 2014’s biggest surprises, it also introduced audiences to a unique underground society of assassins and mobsters with a universal code of rules. This is one area that the sequel took advantage of, by further exploring the rules of this international society. The film is able to explore this world in a way that understands that the audience might find the world ridiculous, so the film has enough moments of humor for writer Derek Kolstad and director Chad Stahelski to have fun.

Stahelski, a former stunt coordinator, has a great eye for action scenes. He films his sequences in a way that allows the audience to appreciate the time and effort that went into prep work of the set pieces. The camerawork and editing never becomes disorienting and is easy to follow. The climactic scene involving a mirror maze is one of the most impressive action scenes in recent memory.

Stahelski never forgets that there’s still a story that needs to be told alongside the flying bullets. His choice of bright neon-colored party scenes and luxurious lounges and hotel rooms adds a nice visual flair that sets it apart from bland colored mega blockbusters like “The Expendables” franchise.

Keanu Reeves, at the age of 52, still manages to amaze viewers with his commitment to do as much of his own stunts on camera. His fighting choreography and gunplay skills are more brutal this time around, as the character of Wick is frustrated that he’s stuck in a world he’s so desperate to escape. His performance as Wick is easily one of his best.

One piece of advice that must be given is that viewers might want to bring some earplugs as the film can get ear-shatteringly loud during action scenes. While guns are obviously extremely loud in real life, there’s no reason that the film should have to be so loud that the audience’s ears will be ringing for the next couple of weeks.

“John Wick: Chapter 2” does what a great action sequel should do: crank up the action in a way that fits what was previously established and expand the characters and the world of the narrative. If the second film can live up to the charm of the first film, then it’s to be expected that the third installment shall be just as good.