John Wick: Chapter 2

Feb 9, 2017

A code of "honor" among assassins makes this actioner palatable.

John Wick: Chapter 2

Image courtesy of IMDb.

Grade: C+

Director: Chad Stahelski (John Wick)

Screenplay: Derek Kolstad (John Wick)

Cast: Keanu Reeves (Matrix)

Rating: R

Runtime: 1hr 41 min

by John DeSando

“John is a man of focus, commitment, sheer will.” Viggo Tarasov

You might say so because infamous hitman John Wick (Keanu Reeves) must have sheer will to splatter the screen with more bodies than can be counted in one sitting of John Wick: Chapter 2.  The quick editing and scene design are focused, alright, on pleasing the eye while titillating that part of the brain that ferrets out the unreal. Surreal it is; substantial it is not.

Director Chad Stahelski and writer Derek Kolstad are committed to entertaining and not overtaxing the brain with anything resembling reality.  What’s real is that Wick is back from retirement to honor a marker, and that puts everyone on edge while some of them delight to think of the mayhem he will unleash.

Because Reeves cannot possibly save a film with even adequate acting, the filmmakers have rightly chosen a gaggle of good character actors such as Ian McShane, Laurence Fishburne, and Franco Nero to name only a few. Additionally, Kolstadt has some witty setups and lines, alas too often centering on Reeves, whose acting chops don’t exist. In other words, he kills lines along with lives.

Now and then an actor and lines save the film, not often enough:

“Have you thought this through? I mean, chewed down to the bone? You got out once. You dip so much as a pinky back into this pond... you may well find something reaches out... and drags you back into its depths.” Winston ( McShane)

For pure action fans, John Wick: Chapter 2 is not a boring sitting, and as my fellow critic and I watched, we laughed heartily at the absurdity of violence and deadening of nuance. There is a good time for all whether laughing at the outrageous plot or the ineptitude of acting.

“I'd like to make a dinner reservation for 12.” John Wick

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at