Watch John Wick 2 (2017), Story, Stars, Reviews & All You Want To Know About A Great Movie
Sep 17, 2022
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Watch John Wick 2 (2017), Story, Stars, Reviews & All You Want To Know About A Great Movie
John Wick 2 (2017)
After returning to the criminal underworld to repay a debt, John Wick discovers that a large bounty has been put on his life.
Derek Kolstad (based on characters created by)
John Wick: Chapter 2 (also known as simply John Wick 2) is a 2017 American neo-noir action thriller film directed by Chad Stahelski and written by Derek Kolstad. It is the second installment in the John Wick franchise and the sequel to the 2014 action film John Wick. It stars Keanu Reeves in the lead role, Common, Laurence Fishburne, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ruby Rose, John Leguizamo, and Ian McShane.
The plot follows retired hitman John Wick (Reeves), who is forced back into his old life to fulfill a blood oath to an Italian crime lord. Principal photography began on October 26, 2015, in New York City.
The film premiered in Los Angeles on January 30, 2017, and was theatrically released in the United States on February 10, 2017. It received generally positive reviews from critics, with praise for the action sequences, direction, editing, visual style and the performances of the cast, particularly Reeves.
The film grossed $171.5 million worldwide against its $40 million budget, twice the $86 million gross of the original film. A sequel, titled John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, was released on May 17, 2019.
Have you ever walked out of a film so struck by awe and wonder your skin is abuzz? Has a film ever left you so joyful and drunk on adrenaline that it made you more hopeful about the world? Has a lead performance in an action film ever had such balletic grace it made you marvel at the possibilities of the human body itself? This is exactly how I felt watching “John Wick: Chapter Two,” the sequel to the surprising 2014 action hit.
“John Wick: Chapter Two” is a more audacious film, bolder and more violent than its predecessor. It’s also surprisingly hilarious, wringing humor from physical pratfalls and dry wit in unexpected moments. In many ways, it’s the platonic ideal of an action film: operatic yet colored with fine-tuned details, blisteringly visceral yet tinged with pathos.
For all its great craft, the movie is ultimately a showcase for Keanu Reeves, who returns as the titular assassin, proving his greatness as an actor and action star. Yes, that’s right, I said greatness. No qualifiers necessary. “John Wick: Chapter Two” is truly wondrous, but it wouldn’t work without Reeves, who has a sincere love of this genre.
Wick is not good at retiring. It’s easy to believe, as commented on by others in the film, that he’s addicted to the vengeance he dishes out with such panache. After all, what else does he have to live for? The sequel picks up shortly after the end of the first film; Wick is still reeling from the death of his wife, Helen (Bridget Moynahan), failing to adjust to a new life even with his adorable, unnamed pitbull steadfastly by his side. (For those wondering, the dog remains safe.)
He has little time to relax when he finds Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) on his doorstep, asking him to make good on the blood oath he made years prior that allowed him to retire from his deadly profession. At first, Wick balks. One devastating house explosion later, he sees no other choice. But accepting Santino’s offer does not bring Wick the peace he desires so intensely. Soon, he finds himself facing threats from all sides, including Santino’s mute enforcer Ares (Ruby Rose) and Cassian (Common), a bodyguard of the woman Wick is forced to kill.
“John Wick: Chapter Two” is never as singularly focused as its stellar opening, which is pretty much the best Batman sequence that never was. Wick has already avenged his dog and now wants to recover the car stolen in the previous film. This gives us a fun Peter Stormare cameo as Abram Tarasov, the brother of the Russian gangster Wick killed the last time around.
The opening juxtaposes Wick fluidly moving in and out of shadow killing all manner of men who stand in his path. All the while, Abram listens to the ricocheting bullets and belabored screams of his henchmen growing almost cartoonishly overwrought with dread. The scene works by leaning into Wick’s mythic nature even more heavily than the first film and establishes the sequel’s excellent comedic stylings.
After the opening, the film wastes no time plunging us deeper into the mythology of Wick’s labyrinthine world of assassins, blood oaths and arcane rules. The budding franchise has some of the best world-building currently in film, besting comic properties and reboots that have decades of material from which to draw. There are many delectable details introduced like an old-fashioned steno pool of tattooed darlings that handle the release of hits and other nasty work needing to be done.
Some of the most fun moments are just watching Wick prepare. He’s a man of extremely refined taste, whether he’s getting a new suit tailored or conversing with The Sommelier (Peter Serafinowicz) about weaponry with the metaphors of fine dining. Cinema was created so Keanu Reeves could wear a fine black suit and slice through people with the same grace as Fred Astaire. But in expanding Wick’s world the film often lacks the sharp focus that made the original so entrancing.
But even though it isn’t a perfect sequel, the imperfections are charming, lending the story the ability to venture down fun avenues.
“John Wick: Chapter Two” is a character actor’s paradise. It’s so obvious that returning cast members and new faces are having fun that you can’t help but smile: Ian McShane returns to make a meal out of every scene he’s in as Winston, the owner of New York City’s Continental hotel; Lance Reddick and John Leguizamo are also a pleasure, giving completely different energy to the film; Ruby Rose might just have a great career soon as an action star.
With not a single line of dialogue, she has a commanding presence, proving me wrong about her skills demonstrated in a previous season of “Orange is the New Black.” Common proves to also be a great foil for Reeves, nailing the silent but deadly assassin mode with panache. Franco Nero’s brief appearance as the manager of the Continental hotel in Rome is especially great. Come on. It’s Franco Nero talking to John Wick. What else could you ask for?
But it’s Laurence Fishburne as the Bowery King that may just be my favorite addition to this fascinating world. “The Matrix” co-stars understandably have great rapport. They riff off each other in the way only actors with deeply shared history can. Fishburne’s presence is commanding, with a tinge of eccentricity.
His booming laughter happens to be one of the most powerful aspects of the film’s impressive arsenal. At one point, his laugh acts as a transition between scenes going longer than expected in response to Wick’s questionable request. He only appears briefly but he makes quite an impact.
Of course, the reason to truly cherish “John Wick: Chapter Two” is the action. Director Chad Stahelski and cinematographer Dan Laustsen make every frame a sumptuous visual feast. They take advantage of the outsized world they’ve created, forming a color palette unique to the action film landscape that gives “John Wick: Chapter Two” a painterly quality. They also know how good-looking and physically expressive their leading man is. Often Reeves is the only thing on-screen, his face and body cast in shades of turquoise, jade, and neon pink.
There is an artistry and detail to even minor scenes of characters trading barbs that express the sheer mythic and grand nature of the story. The sound design highlighting the crunch of bones, splatter of blood, and the various repercussions of these increasingly intense battles is also quite artful. Fight scenes are never over-edited, opting for continuous wide shots, making it evident how much Reeves trained.
The violence is never one-note, running the gamut from darkly humorous to oddly poetic. And it is always very, very bloody. This film is far more brutal than the first. Assassins are sliced at the groin, stabbed in the thigh, and shot in all manner of body parts with the camera never flinching, forcing us to bear witness. Bonus: we get to see Wick’s pencil trick. It’s even more gruesome than I imagined.
But the action isn’t just intense and gorgeously crafted. In “John Wick: Chapter Two” physicality is identity. Screenwriter Derek Kolstad smartly doesn’t over-explain the history between characters—the way they fight speaks for them. When Ares gets her showdown with Wick, she’s scrappy and unhinged, like a starved lioness released onto an unsuspecting public. Cassian is more openly brutal and forceful. He’s more simplistic than Wick in his fighting choices but nearly as deadly.
Their fight scenes often begin with long pauses and intense stares before giving way to outright mayhem. Then, of course, there is Reeves. No action star quite understands how physicality can communicate story like he does. His dialogue may be spare. But his body tells an entire story all its own, even in subdued moments. A glare or half-hearted smile communicates more history than many actors do with a monologue. Where Ares is energetic and Cassius is brutal, Reeves makes Wick elegant in his violence.
Interestingly, Wick often does a sort of flip, locking an opponent between his legs. It’s a move that is typically the domain of female action stars, reminding me of Black Widow’s signature move in films like “Captain America: Winter Soldier.” This demonstrates how Reeves uniquely blends typically feminine and masculine traits with aplomb.
During the film’s most memorable fight scenes, Reeves seems like he’s creating dance crafted with punches and gun-fu. He effectively marries the cool grace of Fred Astaire with the sex appeal of Gene Kelly. No modern action star is so brutal and beautiful an equal measure.
But Reeves goes beyond being a talented physical performer in action scenes. The film highlights the thematic preoccupation that snakes through his entire career: loneliness. Reeves has always been best when playing men isolated due to equal parts choice and pathology. Wick’s struggle to find peace and his place in the world is surprisingly moving. Here is a man without any home in the world—emotional or tangible. Amid the high body count and clever design, “John Wick: Chapter Two” is a moving portrait of how loneliness warps the best of us.
It ends with room for a third chapter, which I am definitely hoping for, since “John Wick: Chapter Two” demonstrates what film as an art form is all about: it awes and delights, challenges and provokes. It also proves that Keanu Reeves is the greatest modern action star and film is better for his return.
John Wick recovers his stolen Ford Mustang Mach 1 from Abram Tarasov, brother of the late Viggo. John dispatches Tarasov’s men in a violent rampage that heavily damages the Mustang, but spares Tarasov under the promise of peace, and returns home. John is visited by the Camorra crime boss Santino D’Antonio, who reminds him that he was the one who helped John complete his “impossible task”, which allowed John to retire and marry Helen.
In return, John swore to a “marker”, an unbreakable vow symbolized by a “blood oath” medallion. Santino presents the marker to demand services from John, who declines. Santino retaliates by destroying John’s house with a grenade launcher.
John survives and travels to the Continental Hotel in New York City where Winston reminds John that if he rejects the marker, he will be violating one of the two unbreakable rules of the underworld: no killing on Continental grounds, and honoring every marker. John reluctantly accepts his commitment and meets with Santino, who tasks him with assassinating his sister, Gianna, so he can claim her seat at the “High Table”, a council of twelve high-level crime bosses. Santino sends Ares, his mute bodyguard, to observe John’s mission.
In Rome, Italy, John infiltrates Gianna’s coronation and confronts her in a dressing room. Faced with certain death, Gianna chooses to take her own life by slitting her wrists. As Gianna dies, John shoots her in the head both to fulfill the marker and as a mercy killing. As John leaves, Gianna’s bodyguard, Cassian, recognizes John and upon realizing that he was sent to kill Gianna, attacks him.
John flees to the catacombs, where he is double-crossed by Ares and Santino’s henchmen, who intend to tie up “loose ends” by killing him. After killing most of the henchmen, John is again pursued by Cassian. Their fight leads them into the reception area of the Rome Continental Hotel, which, like the New York Continental, prohibits conducting any “business” on its grounds. As the two share a drink, John explains his reason for killing Gianna. Nevertheless, Cassian promises John a quick and clean death as a sign of professional respect.
As John returns to New York City, Santino opens a contract for $7 million to kill John under the guise of avenging his sister, leading numerous assassins to unsuccessfully attack John. Cassian confronts John in the subway and, after a vicious fight, is left with a knife stuck in his aorta. The badly injured John seeks help from an underground crime boss known as the Bowery King, whose subordinates treat John’s injuries.
Intrigued by John’s intent to kill a member of the High Table, the Bowery King sportingly gives him a gun with only seven bullets, one for each million of the contract, and directs John to an art museum where Santino holds a gala. John pursues Santino throughout the museum, killing his remaining henchmen and Ares, but Santino manages to escape to the Continental, where he intends to remain indefinitely in its sanctuary. Despite Winston’s warnings, the exasperated John shoots and kills Santino in the Continental lounge.
The next day, Winston meets with John and explains that, per the High Table, the contract on John has been doubled and offered globally. As a further consequence of killing Santino on Continental grounds, Winston declares John “excommunicado”, terminating all his access and privileges to underworld resources.
However, Winston delays announcing John’s excommunication by one hour to give him a head start and provides him with a marker for future use. Before leaving, John advises Winston to tell every other assassin for the High Table that when they try to hunt him, they will all be killed. John departs with his dog as Winston makes a call enacting John’s “excommunicado” to be activated in one hour. As the contract is activated and cellular phones begin to ring all around him, John begins to run.
John Wick 2 (2017) Box office
John Wick: Chapter 2 grossed $92 million in the United States and Canada and $79.5 million in other territories for a worldwide gross of $171.5 million. The film grossed $90.5 million worldwide in its first nine days of release, surpassing the entire theatrical gross of the first film ($88.8 million).
In the United States and Canada, the film opened alongside two other sequels, The Lego Batman Movie and Fifty Shades Darker, and was projected to gross around $20 million in its opening weekend. It earned $2.2 million from Thursday night previews at 2,400 theaters, an improvement over the $870,000 made by its predecessor. It made $11 million on its first day, nearly totaling the $14.4 million the first film made in its entire opening weekend.
It went on to open to $30.4 million, more than double the opening weekend of the original film and finishing third at the box office behind The Lego Batman Movie ($53 million) and Fifty Shades Darker ($46.6 million). In its second weekend the film grossed $16.2 million (a drop of 46.7%), finishing 4th at the box office and making more in its second weekend than the original film made in its first.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 89% based on 274 reviews and an average rating of 7.40/10. The website’s critical consensus reads, “John Wick: Chapter 2 does what a sequel should—which in this case means doubling down on the non-stop, thrillingly choreographed action that made its predecessor so much fun.” On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 75 out of 100, based on reviews from 43 critics, indicating “generally favorable reviews”.
Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of “A−” on an A+ to F scale, an improvement from the “B” received by its predecessor, while PostTrak reported filmgoers gave it an 85% overall positive score and a 72% “definite recommend”.
Scott Tobias of Uproxx said the film improved upon the original, writing: “For better or worse—though mostly for better—it’s a full-scale assault on the senses, constantly pushing itself to greater feats of excess. At this rate, a third John Wick might trigger the apocalypse”.
Mike Rougeau of IGN gave the film an 8.5/10, stating that it “takes joy in expanding on the original’s lore”, and praised the film as a vast improvement of its predecessor in terms of action set pieces, fight choreography, cinematography, and writing. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone called it “the real deal” and “pure cinema”.
Writing for Time magazine in February Stephanie Zacharek stated: “The pleasures of John Wick: Chapter 2 may be even greater than those of its predecessor—itself a symphonic achievement in scrappy, balls-out, action filmmaking—because in this one, there’s no puppy murder to endure…it’s lovers of humankind who are put to the test. John Wick: Chapter 2 asks the classic pulp question—Are human beings worth saving?—and delivers, with the right proportions of joy and sorrow, the classic pulp answer: Sometimes, no”.
Both Richard Brody writing for The New Yorker and Stephen M. Colbert writing for Screen Rant saw secret societies as a significant motif in the film. In his article “The World of John Wick Explained”, Colbert stated: “John Wick introduced audiences to a dark, polished and sharply dressed, underground criminal society full of assassins who (mostly) abide by an unspoken code of conduct and two explicit rules.
While the first movie told a more intimate story that only hinted at the larger world of this secret society, John Wick: Chapter Two takes the titular character through several of the corners of this complex underworld, revealing even more about the world of John Wick. While very few of these customs are explicitly explained, there are still enough hints about the inner functionings of the various entities presented, giving us enough puzzle pieces to put together a loose sketch of this mysterious world of assassins”.
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky of The A.V. Club wrote that it “lacks the first film’s domino-effect momentum”. In part, he praised the action scenes as “entertainingly surreal”. In an opinion piece, Jordan Hoffman of The Guardian called the film “a shameful example of Hollywood gun pornography” with a “hyperactive, blood-soaked, corpse-strewn video game aesthetic” but “only trace elements of a plot” and wondered “where the line of decency is as audience bloodlust continues to get chummed”.
Retired super-assassin John Wick’s plans to resume a quiet civilian life are cut short when Italian gangster Santino D’Antonio shows up on his doorstep with a gold marker, compelling him to repay past favors. Ordered by Winston, kingpin of secret assassin society The Continental, to respect the organization’s ancient code, Wick reluctantly accepts the assignment to travel to Rome to take out D’Antonio’s sister, the ruthless capo atop the Italian Camorra crime syndicate.
R (Some Language|Brief Nudity|Strong Violence Throughout)