Imagine the world of John Wick, and having it opened to new corners and levels you could have only dreamed of with the first film. That’s what we get and so much more with the arrival of John Wick: Chapter 2 on DVD and Blu-Ray.
Keanu Reeves returns to the role he made famous in the 2014, the reluctant killer for hire who lives and breathes in a below-the-surface world that exists firmly within our world where being an assassin is not simply a vocation. It is a way of life, complete with safe haven hotels, custom made suits and a code of conduct that is surprisingly strict.
Wick had achieved justice in the first film, seeking to right a wrong that resonated with audiences to the tune of $166.8 million domestically. Lucky for us, writer Derek Kolstad had always envisioned a Wick landscape that stretched past that first film.
In John Wick: Chapter 2, our favorite killing machine has a debt to pay. See, it’s that strict rules world thing! He is forced back into the life he so desperately wants to walk away from. Wick goes to Rome and has to knock off someone that might just set off some serious fireworks in this John Wick world that has the expert assassin fighting for his life and justice in the most astonishingly and elevated ways — compared to the first film… which is something extraordinary.
Wick heads to Rome and director Chad Stahelski choreographs a bullet-laden ballet of ultra violence that is stunning to watch and compels us to want to see it again and again, as well as have our question of “how on earth did they do that?” answered. Exactly for that reason is why John Wick: Chapter 2 is one of the most must-own home video releases of the year (so far).
The world expansion is brilliant with new additions Common (who plays a fellow assassin), Laurence Fishburne (kills it as the Bowery King, who helps Wick with this latest maze he has to conquer) and Ruby Rose (whose killer Ares seems to show up when Wick least needs her to) effortlessly join the world. The latter even becomes a formidable force to be reckoned with as Wick tries to find his way to freedom from this deadly debt he’s been forced to repay.
Returning favorites John Leguizamo triumphantly comes back and Ian McShane’s assassin safe-zone hotel gets an expanded role that only makes us want to know about this character even more.
Witnessing Reeves in action in this character is the key selling point here and in that vein, John Wick: Chapter 2 is an easy sell. It is astonishing how the fight sequences pop off the screen and it is for that reason that you will want to dive into those bonus features to be entertained and enlightened as to the magic behind the making of Chapter 2.
Retro Wick: Exploring the Unexpected Success of John Wick is an almost-five minute look at the first film and dazzles as it shows us where we’ve been so we can appreciate further where it is we are going.
The world of John Wick expands exponentially in Chapter 2. We see that this world Reeves moved in within the first film is actually global. How that was achieved with painstaking clarity is showcased in As Above, So Below: The Underworld of John Wick. This is not simply the life of an assassin. It is diving into the assassin’s lifestyle itself.
For the man who once killed someone with a pencil, as was illustrated in the first film, Wick’s Toolbox takes us inside the many weapons that our protagonist employs to complete his job(s) and stay alive.
How these weapons are used and how the brilliance of the fight sequences is achieved are the center of two bonus features that are also must-sees. Training John Wick is a 12-minute exploration at the choreography behind some of the most breathtaking fight scenes in the entire movie. One will have even more respect for Reeves (and everyone coming at him in this film, for that matter) after seeing this featurette. A lot goes into these scenes to make them so jaw-dropping. It is important to the cinematic experience to witness how they came to be.
Chamber Check: Evolution of a Fight Scene goes deeper into one particular action sequence and with its extended look at how it was made (clocks in at over 10 minutes!), shows us that the scope of the Reeves’ latest in hindsight was a massive, enormous and mind-boggling undertaking.
Director Stahelski was Reeves’ stunt double prior to going into helming big-time pictures. Their relationship is the spotlight of a fantastic Friends, Confidantes: The Keanu/Chad Partnership. After witnessing this featurette, one can easily see how the stunt double would have evolved into a director of Reeves, their shorthand is uncanny.
Three fun bonus features are Kill Count, which recaps all the kills in the film in one three-minute sequence. Hint: It’s a lot! Dog Wick Short is a fake trailer touting the canine lead as the central character in the Wick world. Lastly, A Museum Tour with Sir Jonathan Wick takes us through the modern art gallery in Rome where the assassin has altered himself into an Italian woman. Yeah, it is funny… don’t miss it.
Film Grade: A
Bonus Features: A