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‘John Wick: Chapter 2’ plays its strengths

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John Coakley

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(Photo/Screen Rant)

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(Photo/Screen Rant)

"Baba Yaga" is back, and he is definitely still not to be messed with.

Keanu Reeves reprises his role as the title character in this high-octane sequel to “John Wick” (2014). “John Wick: Chapter 2” knows how to play to its strengths with guns, action, explosions and incredible fight choreography constantly on display. “John Wick: Chapter 2” brings us right back into the world of crime, drugs and underground assassin networks introduced in its predecessor. While the story is perhaps a bit weaker than that of the original, “John Wick: Chapter 2” is the rare successful action movie sequel.

Acting: 28/30

John Wick goes by many names. Mr. Wick, The Boogeyman, Jonathan and Baba Yaga, to name a few. Reeves’ performance is excellent, as he effortlessly captures the solemn, stoic and calculated Wick. What makes Reeves as Wick so effective is that he draws compassion from the audience. Wick may be a badass, but he is also just a man who lost everything he loves and desperately wants to put his past behind him. Other noteworthy performances include Ian McShane reprising his role as assassin guild leader, Winston, and Common as Wick’s rival assassin, Cassian.

Story/Writing: 34/40

After the events of the original film, Wick is looking into retirement. But after being dragged back into business by a regrettable promise he made years ago, Wick winds up on yet another bloody revenge tour. There’s nothing to write home about here plot-wise, but penning an effective action sequel is more difficult than it might seem. While the story follows similar beats to the original, the story provides enough to get the ball rolling and set up some amazing and fun action sequences. Wick’s revenge doesn’t feel quite as personal as it did the first time around, and the result isn’t quite as satisfying.

Cinematography and visuals: 20/20

This is what “John Wick: Chapter 2” does best. The film’s two-hour runtime is teeming with guns, explosions, car chases, creative action sequences and awe-inspiring gruesome kills. Despite how ridiculous and over-the-top this movie is, the action is more grounded and realistic than most films in the genre. Reeves and the stunt team underwent rigorous training to pull off realistic hand-to-hand combat, and no film is more aware of reloading, gun-jamming and other minor details that add a grounded, realistic feel to firefights.

Score: 7/10

Composer Tyler Bates’ score does just what it needs to do. “John Wick: Chapter 2” is far more concerned with using sound to emphasize guns firing, engines roaring and other action sound effects. But Bates’ minimalist score creates tension at key moments and does enough to enhance the noir tone of the film.

Overall Score: 89/100

“John Wick” was a fun, enjoyable action flick, but “John Wick: Chapter 2” vaults this universe into blockbuster franchise territory. While the sequel is perhaps inferior to the original, it is a genuinely fun adventure that sets up an intriguing premise for another sequel. In a cinema landscape devoid of a true flagship action franchise, Baba Yaga could soon become this generation’s John McClane.

Email John at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @john_coakley34.

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The digital-first, student-run magazine of the University of Massachusetts Amherst Journalism Department
‘John Wick: Chapter 2’ plays its strengths