John Wick: Chapter 2 is one of those rare sequels which vastly improves on its predecessor.

It builds on the rather simplistic plot of the first movie in exciting ways, offering a fascinating exploration of the world in which these assassins operate. Indeed, the mythology of the John Wick universe feels surprisingly well-crafted, and this movie leaves plenty of room for more stories further down the line.

Of course, the film’s greatest asset is its jaw-dropping action sequences. On countless previous occasions, films with action in abundance have proven to be boring and repetitive, but John Wick 2 dodges that common pitfall by orchestrating some of the most inventive set-pieces in recent memory. Director Chad Stahelski is a former stunt co-ordinator, and his knowledge of the craft is clear to see on-screen.

Every fist-fight, gunfight and car chase in this movie is stunningly well choreographed and beautifully shot. The action sequences brim with creativity, so much so that new concepts are thrown into the mix at a near-constant rate, which prevents the movie from getting stale at any point. Stunts are shockingly effective with certain moments sure to induce winces from the audience, but never does the violence become gratuitous or gleeful. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

There’s an undercurrent of sadness which runs through this film, and turns the character of John Wick into a genuinely sympathetic figure. Reeves does well portraying a man who takes no pleasure in his morbid profession, creating an action hero who is remarkably compelling.

John Wick 2 feels just a tad bloated towards the end, but remains one of the best action films of recent years.

David Craig

[4star]

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