John Wick 2: The Sub Gold Standard
Yes, this review is super, super, super, super late but I had a rough couple of months and only just recently got around to watching this movie. And god am I sorry I missed out on this movie when it was in theaters. because, holy shit what a phenomenal movie and a masterclass in shooting a proper action scene with perfect editing, amazing choreography, beautiful shots and simply astounding characterization.
Let's just get his part out of the way, the cinematography team here needs to be commended for this movie. Dan Lausten is the director of cinematography for this movie and his credits are some equally beautiful movies like Crimson Peak, The Shape of Water and the TV Series Strike Back. Luckily John Wick was also filmed with the Arri Alexa cameras in 32mm format which is absolutely excellent in bringing out ambient coloring, shadows with true black and smooth as butter editing breaks. And seriously, this movie is just gorgeous to look at in motion, literally regardless of the still frames or long shot action scenes. The editing team is just as good at their jobs as Lausten is and they pieced together this film with a confidence and execution that is simply... Just god they did such a good job with this movie.
So let's talk about the story and why it works so well within the context of John Wick's lore. It's nothing incredibly different or unseen in the espionage and spy movies but much like the editing and cinematography team it's executed so confidently that it's incredibly easy to overlook the few weak points of the story. The lore and style of the John Wick world is badass. The way there's so many different agents that give up anything at a moment's notice to hunt down John, the underground homeless guys, the Continental Hotel grounds with their rules, the universal currency etc. Seriously, this movie is so heavily stylized that it makes James Bond and Jason Bourne look like shit shows in comparison. Also, god does it feel and look so good to have Keanu back where he belongs and doing what he does best. We missed you Keanu, stay right here.
Speaking of over doing it's competition let's talk about the all most important part of any action film, the action. And whoa buddy does this movie deliver those goods by the boatloads. Special shoutout to the choreography team, and the director of choreography Eric Brown who before John Wick was not well known in the circuit. But he really gets a chance to flex his muscles here and it shows. This is truly a well done action movie. And in reference back to the editing team the way the action/fight scenes are all seamlessly cut together into essentially just one long fight where full minutes go by without any camera changes or angle adjustments is just a testament to how incredibly confident and dedicated to their craft this team is. Also, can we acknowledge how they actually show Wick and his enemies reloading and taking time to actually aim their guns and how Wick actively reacts to each encounter just how they should in a real firefight. And that's just the gunfights! The hand to hand is not overly fast like some movies but not camp like others and it feels just perfect for the style.
This movie is the quintessential example of what a spy centric martial arts gunfight movie should be. the choreography, editing, cinematography and acting are all on point. This is one of the most well made action movies in cinematic history. If I had to make just one complaint it would be Peter Stormare's incredibly overblown Russian accent, but hey... he's also Peter Stormotherfuckingare.