Plot: What’s it about?
I’ve got to give Keanu Reeves credit – he’s managed to sculpt a very successful career as an actor for three decades. I remember in high school seeing him in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, later in Point Break and Speed and who can forget the (now) iconic The Matrix? For all intents and purposes, he’s got nothing to prove and, while not the greatest actor, he’s done very well for himself and has certainly left his mark. Then came John Wick. In 2014 it’s simply a story about a man and his dog and a tale of revenge. Granted there was more to it than that, but the grizzly and overtly violent film was praised by critics and audiences around the globe. A sequel was inevitable. And, well, the wait is over. Taking up just days after the original ended, we once again meet John Wick and follow him on his travels.
Keanu Reeves returns as the title character. He’s an ex-hitman who was forced to come out of retirement to get revenge for the people who killed his beloved dog. This time around Wick is approached by Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio), an Italian crime lord who wants to assassinate Wick’s sister, Gianna (Claudia Gerini). Gianna has assumed a position on a council of the world’s top criminal leaders. Wick travels to Rome where things don’t go as planned (do they ever?). And it’s not before long that John finds himself the subject of a worldwide manhunt with a hearty bounty placed on his head to boot. Can’t a guy catch a break?
The same formula is in full effect here and it works. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? John Wick: Chapter 2 is one of the few sequels that’s probably better than its predecessor and that’s certainly a rarity in Hollywood. Oddly the movie not only works as an action movie, but it features some pretty funny subplots as well. It’s not meant to be taken as a comedy, but standing back and looking from the outside in – I did find myself chuckling a few times. Whatever the case, the movie works and it works well. Granted, the film isn’t for everyone but for those that enjoyed the first (and there are droves of them), this installment delivers the goods on more than one level.
Video: How’s it look?
Those that enjoyed the dark and violent first installment will be more than pleased with the sequel’s look and feel. Sporting a 2.40:1 AVC HD image, the picture basks itself in the shadows, but that’s ok. There are some truly unique scenes in the film, the darks juxtaposed with bright blue and green lights. It’s almost an “artsy” look and feel, for lack of a better term. The image never suffers offering up strong contrast, rock solid black levels and detail that’s, of course (and expected), razor sharp.
Audio: How’s it sound?
The film is also available in 4K, but thankfully the Blu-ray also sports the same Dolby Atmos track featured there. And this track is used with great effectiveness. Vocals (John isn’t the most talkative character) are crisp and clean, LFE are used and surrounds add an additional ambiance. The Atmos aspect of things really gets things moving (pardon the pun) and it makes for a very surreal and visceral aural experience.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Audio Commentary – Keanu Reeves and Director Chad Stahelski offer up a pretty good commentary track. Looking at one of the other supplemental features, I’d had no idea that Mr. Stahelski was formerly Keanu Reeve’s stunt double. Whoa! That said, it’s a pretty straight-forward track with some talk of the production, shots and the film as a whole. Fans will enjoy it.
- Deleted Scenes – These aren’t of great quality and, running at 8 minutes, don’t really offer a lot. Still, better to have than have not.
- The Cleaner
- The Vatican
- Retro Wick: Exploring the Unexpected Success of John Wick – Essentially a look at the franchise and the buzz/praise that the first film garnered.
- Training John Wick – A look at some of the choreography and fighting in the film.
- Wick-vizzed – A look at some of the pre-visualization and how it played a part in the final film.
- Friends, Confidantes: The Keanu/Chad Partnership – As mentioned above (so below, sorry…couldn’t resist) Chad Staheliski used to be Keanu’s stunt double and has now, obviously, graduated to working behind the camera.
- As Above, So Below: The Underworld of John Wick – If you’ve ever wanted to see more of a “day in the life” of John Wick, this will certainly help.
- Car Fu Ride-Along – A look at the cars used in the film and some of the damage inflicted upon them. Don’t worry, they’re only cars.
- Chamber Check: Evolution of a Fight Scene – Another look at the choreography for the fight scenes (essentially the entire film) and how they were planned and laid out.
- Wick’s Toolbox – A look at the arsenal of weapons for Mr. Wick.
- A Museum Tour with Sir Jonathan Wick – A tour through the museum with a montage of violent clips from the film shown as well. Odd.
- Kill Count – If you want to view the film as a video game, this makes it much easier to do so.
- Dog Wick Short – Beware the dog! A light-hearted look at things from the canine perspective.
- Theatrical Trailer
The Bottom Line
Fans of John Wick will no doubt already have this in their collection and it’s nice to see that a sequel can be as good as its predecessor. It’s basic, but might be about 15 minutes too long. I’d be very surprised if we didn’t see a third chapter (given the box office of the first two). The Blu-ray looks and sounds stunning and will no doubt make a perfect addition to your collection.