Is there anything more joyous than taking out someone’s kneecaps, watching them collapse to hip-level and then painting the walls with their brains as you shoot them between the eyes? Probably not. In fact, this particular form of execution is so addictively enjoyable, it simply has to be inflicted on a countless amount of nameless goons until the point of desensitisation. But enough about my Tuesday evenings; let’s review John Wick: Chapter 2.
John Wick: Chapter 2 builds on the gloriously violent scenes of the first film, a surprisingly stylish action-thriller about a legendary hitman (Keanu Reeves) who goes on a rampage in New York because Russian shits steal his car and kill his dog. This time, he’s going on an executioner’s package holiday with all-inclusive guns because he’s still not quite over it.
OK, that’s not completely accurate. Wick is actually trying to retire from the assassin’s creed so he can have a peaceful life with his new dog, but a typically foreign bad guy has dredged up an old blood-signed contract and forced him to return to the action. He wants him to murder his sister so he can take her place at the hitman ‘High Table’ or something else that doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of all the shooting and dying.
Mr. Wick initially appears to be perturbed by being dragged back into it all, but it’s not long before he’s at ease hollowing out people’s heads again. He’s every bit as skillful and brutal as he was in the first film, nonchalantly ending lives like an adultery website information leak. If anything, he has even less patience for the scores of uncredited henchmen, wasting little time in making their bodies resemble Swiss cheese and ventilating their necks with a pencil. And speed is definitely essential, what with every single character, bar Lovejoy and Morpheus, trying to kill him. Honestly, absolutely everyone in this film is an assassin. There are no ordinary human beings. It’s almost as bad as Hull.
The sheer number of trained murderers makes for some hilariously excessive set-pieces, in which John Wick easily kills about 400 people. I snorted when he ran out of ammunition and resorted to lobbing his empty weapon at an unsuspecting man’s face – excellent. If it weren’t for the incredibly stylish settings of a Rome opera party and a mirror art exhibition, I might have thought this film was deliberately trying to be shit (it is). The majority of dialogue certainly seems to suggest so, particularly when Neo asks Morpheus, “Do you want a war or do you want to just give me a gun?” To which Morpheus tunefully replies like a drag queen, “Somebody please get this man a gun!”
Where the first film genuinely surprised me with something niche and cool enough to earn cult status, this sequel unashamedly parodies itself, like The Expendables and Piers Morgan. Director Chad Stahelksi does provide an interesting insight into the inner-workings of the assassin organisation – the Continental Hotel, in which the killers can use as long as they don’t pop each other on the premises, is fully explored, as are the tailoring and weapon suppliers – but most of it purely serves to generate moments of self-aware ridiculousness. That being said, I’d be an absolute nonce if I held that against a film that doesn’t remotely claim to be any more serious than this next sentence. Arse flange. Three out of five.