Despite the blood and gore left, right and centre, sparks of inspiration and terrifically-tailored action sequences, what use is it when the film inflicts us with drought of boredom? Honestly, on occasions, it was not only testing but really quite dull: that should never, even be the case, particularly in the action genre and I didn't expect it of John Wick 2, considering the rave reviews from critics and general audiences. Rarely above average and only surpassing when it is filling in gaps and the admittedly solid minor details found in first act, the script frequently becomes monotonous and even fails to afford one character the art of conversation, attempting to be smart and quirky when it instead appears as nothing short of a cop-out, as if the writer's were giving up at times - as I came very close to. This, even with a fantastically promising core concept - Wick has money on his head and all the assassins in the area after him - deserves a more sturdy script to execute it. As mentioned, it not only lacks the emotional tug of the first film but also the notion of consequences, never delivering the stakes you so want it to and by the time the film wraps up with a nod to John Wick 3, it all appears as a courtesy. Chapter 2 is just not as compelling as the first, unfortunately a victim of its own success and struggling to even pass the bar. Sorry to be the kill-joy, I just don't think the Wick was burning as brightly this time out.
John Wick: Chapter 2 is not without its merit; it certainly is one of the most creatively-shot and striking action sequels in memory, with a genuine brutality that compares boldly with its less-able stablemates. 'Style over substance' is a phrase banded around by film critics like a dirty word but it absolutely applies here and the narrative, while promising from the outside, seems only designed to serve the most stylish action pictures you've seen, rather than for any other reason, like, y'know, ensuring the audience are engaged at all times and not just every now and then, as we jump from set piece to set piece sometimes aimlessly. There's a real beauty found amongst the headshots and blood splattering but John Wick: Chapter 2 is an otherwise empty spectacle of a franchise that deserved to be much, much more. If this is a particularly harsh review, do know that you can absolutely find enjoyment in this film, but considering the first made my top ten of 2015, I expected more than this the second time around...
Summary: John Wick: Chapter 2 is an insanely slick and stylish action sequel that gives you all the blood and gore you could want, but it struggles in the execution of its main mission - to deliver a compelling story.
Highlight: The terrifically choreographed and captured action.