What Went Wrong With… John Wick: Chapter 2?

A review of John Wick: Chapter 2 by What Went Wrong Or Right With...?

John Wick: Chapter 2, the sequel to the 2014 hit starring Keanu Reeves, was released in 2017 and despite it being a financial success, it was a massive disappointment. Sequels are known for being inferior and John Wick 2 did nothing to buck that trend.

The film begins where the last one left off with Wick trying to get his car back. Since this is a direct follow-on from previous events, the movie starts with more caricatured Russian mob-types. Peter Stormare plays Abram Tarasov, the brother of the previous film’s antagonist Viggo and in A Die Hard With A Vengeance-esque way I was expecting there to be a “you killed my brother” revenge plot but this is abandoned in favour of a more crapper one about a “marker” and the assassination of an Italian mob (or Camorra) leader.

Most sequels are only there to make money and John Wick: Chapter 2 was probably created for the same reason. At the end of the last film, we the audience couldn’t care less what happened to his new dog, or whether he got his Mustang back, or indeed, what happened to his house, and yet all these things are included followed by yet more unnecessary set pieces. This is an unneeded sequel, kinda like Ernest Goes To Jail, and similar to Ernest’s outings, this could have been called John Wick Goes To Rome.

The cast in John Wick 2 aren’t great. Ruby Rose (who plays the mute assassin-cum-bodyguard Ares) is an appalling actor who looks like Leonardo DiCaprio’s shit twin. Riccardo Scamarcio (who plays second-fiddle to his “High Table” sibling) is an actor with no star-quality who looks like one of the guinea pigs in G-Force, and his sister (played by Claudia Gerini) looks and acts like a TV soap star. Common is also an amateur actor, in fact there’s only Peter Stormare and Laurence Fishburne who possess any talent and they’re hardly in it.

There’s tonnes of corny aspects to this film. Like the previous movie, John Wick: Chapter 2 has more mundane music with what looks like a Eurovision song being performed above the Italian catacombs. Following on from John Wick: Chapter 1‘s aesthetics, there’s also more daft, post-modern embellishments such as the old-style yet tattooed switchboard operators who use ’80s computers to text ’00 phones whilst using pneumatic postal tubes (what great, efficient, use of technology).

Since the main selling point of this film is the fighting, there’s oddly no artistry to the fight scenes like you’d see in any Asian Kung-Fu movie, and when Keanu Reeves and Common fight, they lumber around and move almost sluggishly, like two dads fighting in a car park. In addition, you can plainly see their stunt-doubles as they roll-down the stone stairs.

The other problem is that the pace plods along instead of building-up tension or thrills. There’s lots of quiet, uninteresting moments followed by shooting and fighting; shooting and fighting I may add, without the finesse or originality of something like The Bourne Trilogy‘s use of everyday objects as weapons or even Equilibrium‘s “Gun-Kata”. Aside form the lack of excitement, and the shortage of peril, there’s now bulletproof suits which brings the plot into the realms of the worst kind of Bond movie with Peter Serafinowicz doing a comedic rendition of “Q”. This invincibility adds to the film’s cartoonishness and my disinterest in it.

In terms of the storyline and visuals, there’s so many things wrong that I may as well list them:

  • Why is there a strange projection of a silent movie on a brick wall leading to a motorcycle chase?

  • Is there any point in getting your car back if you wreck it whilst trying to retrieve it? Hey, it’s okay, a write-off can get fixed by shitty stand-up John Leguiziamo.

  • The puppy Daisy from the first film (who dies) was a gift, and yet John Wick the character and we the audience are supposed to feel the same way toward a random rescue dog that has no connection to his deceased wife.

  • John Wick left all his gold coins in full view at his house from the previous film (coins which you cannot do without in this absurd world since physical cash, digital currency, drugs, bullion, prostitutes, slaves, or simple favours are nowhere to be seen).

  • Apparently, you need to collect a suit and a turtle neck to assassinate someone.

  • “You shall not murder” is part of the Torah and yet Orthodox Jews hold a suitcase containing a gun for an assassin.

  • It’s still 2014 I assume, since the film follows immediately from the previous one but where’s the smartphones? Everyone has flip-phones and slidey Nokias.

  • With multiple cars slamming into his lower limbs, Wick isn’t confined to a bed with an Ilizarov apparatus attached to his leg – oh no – instead he limps a bit.

  • Knowing that there is such a thing as thin bulletproof material woven into their suits, why don’t Keanu Reeves and Common aim for each other’s heads?

  • Two assassins can’t hit each other with silencers at walking pace in a brightly lit environment.

  • Apparently you can subdue someone by pushing their face toward your crotch.

  • Since the police never seem to show up (unless it’s the one cop who knows John Wick) why not just stab or shoot your opponent in the subway car? Why wait for it to be cleared?

  • If the “excommunicado” text has been sent out to everyone, instead of giving John Wick dirty looks, follow him for an hour and kill him and collect your 14 million dollars.

  • Why would an assassin (in a beret no less) be busking on the street? Why would there be a sumo-sized assassin? Why would assassins be working as janitors? Why would assassins be disguised as homeless people? Why, why, why, why?

Leading on from this final issue, the scene where Lovejoy tells everybody to pause like the world’s lamest flash mob, that means there’s more criminals and assassins in this world than innocent civilians at any given time, which makes no sense at all.

With all these problems, this sequel makes John Wick: Chapter 1 look like a work of art. Chapter 2 goes Italian-mob instead of Russian-mob but the squished-faced villain we’re offered isn’t scary or intimidating like Michael Nyqvist was. With Ruby Rose by his side dressed in an oversized suit looking like a teenage male model for Burton’s Menswear, the whole premise, tone, and look of the film becomes a joke.

With this sequel, the John Wick franchise went from “you stole my car” to “you burnt my house down” which sounds like the worst kind of line form the shittiest ’80s movie. Speaking of old films, there’s quite a few scenes in this film which reminded me of others. For instance; John Wick “tooled-up” with too many weapons like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Commando, Wick’s “impossible task” of killing the Camorra boss’ sister resembled the bathtub scene from Hostel 2. When confronted by two Asian assassins, the second one slowly pulled out his gun to give Wick more time to deal with the first guy and “waiting for your turn” in a fight reminded me of The Dark Knight Rises. With all these lacklustre comparisons being generally better than John Wick: Chapter 2, I have to say that I haven’t been this bored watching an action film since Speed 2, in fact Reeves should have let Jason Patric take his place in this sequel too.

In a world populated by killers and evil-doers who vehemently adhere to a board-game-like code, the premise of this sequel has veered away from what made the original film watchable. By the hundredth time that “Continental grounds” and “High Table” is uttered, it sounds so frigging stupid that you’d rather watch the shite 1995 flick Assassins instead. That crap was much more believable and even though Antonio Banderas over-acted to the point of almost orgasming, his performance was superior to almost everybody in this shit. John Wick: Chapter 2 is definitely a number two.

Getting On My Wick.

Writing: 1/10

Directing: 3/10

Acting: 3/10

Overall: 3/10




Read the related article - What Went Right With... John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum?

What Went Right With… John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum?


3 replies »

  1. I would suggest that Devils Advocate is probably the best movie that Keanu Reeves has ever done or appeared in.

    A well crafted and enjoyable movie by director Taylor Hackford – where Keanu gives an impressive and solid performance throughout.

    Other than Point Break and The Matrix-his career has been on the downslope for years.

    Anyway, another great review-cheers.

    • Yes, I loved The Devil’s Advocate, despite Keanu Reeves’ iffy southern accent. His best (or most believable) performance was as a wife-beater in The Gift but yes, other than Point Break, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and Speed, he hasn’t made a decent film, especially after 2000 but for some unknown reason he’s become more and more famous for weaker work.

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