If You Were Obsessed with The Matrix, You’ll Love John Wick: Chapter 2
By Olivia Armstrong
Who is John Wick? And do you need to see the first John Wick movie to enjoy the second? Answers: a formerly retired, badass assassin, and no.
One of the glories of the recently instated John Wick franchise, from the stuntmasters behind The Matrix, is that you can hop on board without much context, as long as you’re game for an over-the-top, super-stylish ride.
Keanu Reeves stars as the retired assassin: a man beleaguered by demons of the past and determined to move on. His plans are derailed, however, when he's forced to pay one last debt.
Satirical and full of swagger, John Wick: Chapter 2 is a high-octane homage to classic action movies like The Terminator — the feared, oft misunderstood lone wolf “bad” guy, who’s determined to finish that one last job — mixed with the cartoon-like violence of a Tarantino film. The blood and guts may be gratuitous, but the violence is as self-aware as a graphic novel’s, and artfully crafted, akin to the Kill Bill franchise. Each over-the-top sequence (arcing bullets in impossible fashion to take out a comical onslaught of rival agents, for instance) is led by a wholly self-aware Reeves, who delivers a physical performance that Neo would be proud of. This is thanks to the guidance of the film’s director: Chad Stahelski, the stuntman extraordinaire who helped make those moves in The Matrix so legendary.
If you're an action fan, it's quite the meta movie experience. And Reeves skeptics will be pleasantly surprised: Seamlessly transcending his “chosen one” demeanor nearly two decades later, Reeves has made way for something new and downright fun.