BEIRUT: Continuing the tale of master assassin John Wick, or "the Boogeyman" as he is labeled in the film, John Wick Chapter 2, picks up almost immediately following the first chapter.
John Wick: You wanted me back... I'm back!
Screenwriter Derek Kolstad ties up the remaining threads of the first chapter with a complex fight sequence that involved hand-to-hand combat, and a complex car chase leading toa simple peace treaty between Wick and the Russian mob.
Burying his past literally, Wick – as every hero does in every sequel known to man – attempts to have a normal life free of killing, only to be dragged back in by Santino D'Antonio, a man who holds Wick's mark.
Instead of going through a repetition of events, and offering the audience a regurgitation of the same thing they saw before, both the screenwriter and the director build and expand on what came before. Not only are the obstacles facing Wick more challenging, but Wick himself journeys across a new arc and evolves.This grants the audience a deeper look into the world encompassing the characters within the narrative.
The Bowery King: The man. The myth. The legend. John Wick. You're not very good at retiring.
The film is strongest when it comes to its camera-work and fight choreography within the mise-en-scene. Director Chad Stahelski holds his camera and slows down the pace of his edits in order to allow the movement within the frame to engage the audience.
It is quite refreshing to engage in an action film that, contrary to most action films, does not create a rhythm that is reminiscent of hyperactive techno music but of Beethoven or Bach.
All the actors were put through arduous training during the film's pre-production phase: from jujitsu to kung-fu, to all forms of weapons training.It all lead to the creation of what Stahelski calls Gun-Fu: a new artistic genre of fighting that is mesmerizing to witness.
The gun-fight sequences come off as more of a violent, death-dealing dance and it's all due to the fantastic fight and stunt choreographers – someone gives these people some well-deserved awards.
John Wick: Whoever comes, I'll kill them. I'll kill them all.
As perfectly structured as the narrative is, it is still burdened by terrible dialogue and yet, it works. This is what makes John Wick Chapter 2 so fascinating as it defies the principle that states, "weak dialogue can break a film".
The film's final act is a culmination of brilliant filmmaking and storytelling.
Following John Wick into a museum exhibit made of shifting mirrors and changing lights, director Chad Stahelski pays homage to Bruce Lee's "Enter the Fist" and leads the film's protagonist to the decision that would change him forever.
In what is the most shocking moments in the entire film, though the simplest action, Wick defies the assassin's creed and kills Santino on Continental Hotel ground, forcing Winston to label Wick excommunicado.
This is precisely what makes this film work. It pushes the protagonist to change even more. In the first film, he goes from peaceful life to that of vengeance, and now in the second from vengeance to justice, making John Wick even more compelling than he was before.
Winston: You stabbed the devil in the back. To him this isn't vengeance, this is justice.
Sequels normally do better at the box office than their predecessors even if the narrative fails, John Wick Chapter 2, however, is an example of a great sequel. It gives its audience what they enjoyed in Chapter One not by echoing its past, but by pushing the narrative forward and opening it up for the future.
Annahar's Film Rating:
Alan Mehanna is an award-winning screenwriter and filmmaker. He received his MFA in Screenwriting from Full Sail University. He is also a film instructor at the American University of Science and Technology and Antonine University.
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