A sluggish first half then blows up into a head-splattering sequel, not all that different than the first, but with plenty more of it. Assassin John Wick (Keanu Reeves) points, shoots, and shoots some more over two hours of violence. It’s a lot to take but done with such enthusiasm for the absurdist concept, being invested in John Wick 2’s action-conscious visual flair is easy.
Sharp and elegant, John Wick 2 fires off as much detail as it does bullets. Intense, densely lit close-ups shine with their fidelity. Gorgeously high-resolution source material makes the most of lush city sights, even with a flare up of bothersome noise at times. Textural qualities carry through the entire film, layering John Wick 2 with visual power.
Dock the feature for a mild round (or two) of ringing. It’s minor. The bigger concern is black crush, carrying throughout the feature and taking some depth with it. Shadow details disappear into the shadows. This is a dark film, built for thick contrast. In an effort to get there, John Wick 2 is a touch over zealous.
Although frequently draped in teals (an underground shoot-out uses nothing but) and warmer hues, a majority of the film carries accurate flesh tones. Primaries appear sharp and bold when active. Opening scenes splash neon lights onto a wet street, sensational color in tow. It’s a fine look that feels saturated even when drifting toward singularly dominating hues.
Wasting no time to engage the Dolby Atmos mix, the aggressive score distributes a beat to the subwoofer and gets to work panning a motorcycle around the soundfield. Cars begin smashing into one another with force, sending a superlative debris field that will, eventually, send brain matter overhead. Gruesome, but also awesome.
Phenomenal dynamic range lifts the action scenes, the personal favorite being the underground shootout. Not only do rounds hammer the low-end, the echoes of the ruins splinter between channels when hit. By the mirror-laced finale, voices travel and pan, creating more than a visual sensation.
Packed work by Lionsgate, beginning with commentary work from Keanu Reeves and director Chad Stahelski. The rest of the disc loads up on featurettes, only one over 10-minutes, although it’s a quality over quantity situation. Multiple feature detail choreography and fight design, even down to the classic cars. Friends, Confidantes is interesting for its exploration of Reeves/Stahelski’s friendship. The hilarious short Dog Wick is here after an internet run, and it takes three minutes to re-run all of the kills from the movie in a montage. It’s all good stuff, if a bit scattered.
Lots of people die in John Wick 2, which isn’t surprising to anyone who saw the first. It still has style and Reeves is still on point.
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