There is an irritating trend that decent, successful action movies have when it comes to sequels: they tend to set aside what truly makes their whole formula work in order to make room for a heaping helping of slapstick humor and self-aggrandizement. Two very unfortunate examples of this are The Boondock Saints and Taken, both franchises that were bastardized by their sequels.
Now even though John Wick: Chapter 2 doesn’t go so far as to bastardize the whole franchise, it is certainly guilty of this trend.
At least the first fifteen minutes of this movie is an absolute waste of time. It starts out with an inexplicable car chase sequence that doesn’t amount to much. It then treats us to an all-you-can-remember reference fest of the first movie, where some goofy Russians are regurgitating, oftentimes word-for-word, the legend of John Wick established from the first installment.
This is as opposed to the first movie, which slowly emphasized John Wick’s fame until they finally make the big reveal of just how important he was. Whereas the first film was a slow and meaningful walk in the park, the second film is a run-and-tumble mess through the bushes.
And then on top of all this, we then get a sequence where John Wick basically breaks character and half-hazardly does what he is intending to do with more-or-less disastrous consequences.
Basically, this movie forgot that John Wick was a great character because he’s cool, calm, collective, and calculative. Instead, its seems to think that he was a great character because he was the invincible protagonist of his self-titled movie.
What makes this worse is that there’s not much more to John Wick aside from Keanu Reaves playing slightly quieter Keanu Reaves. When you’ve basically stripped him of what little character he has in the entire film, the character, and the story, feels aimless.
Now they do finally get to a point where they remember what makes John Wick himself, but it doesn’t happen until at least the second half of the movie.
The main villain character was largely uncompelling. His motivations, especially during the beginning made almost no sense, and his schemes seemed about as poorly thought out as John Wick’s planning in this entire movie.
There’s some short appearances from a lot of the characters from the first movie, but they are extremely brief and really only in their to uselessly crack-wise or just reference what they said in the first installment. It was completely lazy and disappointing.
Now out of all the characters that got off poorly from this film, Laurence Fishburne gets off the worst. His more-or-less cameo in the movie was boring and unnecessary. It felt like he was there to get a quick paycheck and then leave. The film has extremely little use for him, and his existence in the story seemed more like it was just trying to set his character up for the supposed sequel this franchise is conjuring up next. But like Keanu Reeves, Fishburne plays himself in this film.
Now as most people who frequent Rotten Tomatoes know, this movie got a 90% on the Tomatometer… meaning this movie is reaching Disney types of levels of overrated. I checked a couple of reviews to find the reasoning for why the reviews were so positive, and unsurprisingly, the more they mentioned the action, the more positive the review was.
And that’s because the only truly exceptional thing in this film is the action, which was as good if not better than the first film. However, I suppose most people have decided they will selectively review parts a movie instead of judging it as a whole… so excuse me, but I’m not going to review this film as if it were merely a stunt demo.
The music chosen for this movie set a similar and consistent tone from the first movie. The cinematography was only particularly well done during the action scenes.
The dialogue was unspecial at best, and cheesily tiresome at worst.
There are bits and pieces of the movie that actually explore some interesting ideas and some new territory for John Wick, but these pieces are few and far between. Aside from the action, there’s nothing great about this movie, and much of it was really really awful.
I am extremely disappointed in this second installment. I suppose it was naive for me to think that moviemakers would learn from their mistakes, but John Wick: Chapter 2 was extremely well received by critics, when Taken 2 and The Boondock Saints: All Saints Day were largely critical flops. I suppose from now on, I shall keep my cynicism turned up high whenever they make another sequel to a deservingly successful action movie, and I’m giving John Wick: Chapter Two a 4 out of 10.