John Wick was one of the great surprises of last year. Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, two former risk doubles, debuted behind the scenes with a film that still today, after the initial impact, closes everywhere: John Wick is a choreographed violent walk with a simple but identifiable story, a construction of the universe with incredibly attractive style and an impeccable visual style. Much of the applause, however, is taken by the excellent script by Derek Kolstad, who turns these gangsters into Greek gods, giving each one their place on Mount Olympus that turns out to be the Continental hotel.
And although most likely in the head of the screenwriter and directors rolled the idea of turning the film into a franchise, the reality is that John Wick has a perfect ending, completing the catharsis and redemption of this good-dress antihero - with him getting a new partner and everything. But the reception of the public and the critics guaranteed Keanu Reeves (the new hero of action par excellence) the possibility of re-gumming his hair and continuing to lower wrists left and right.
We then arrive at John Wick: Chapter 2, which takes up the protagonist's life just weeks after the events of the original. Already fully recovered, John is on the hunt for the only prey he has left: his car. The first minutes then give us not only a small preview of what will come, but also update those who have missed the first movie. The infallible Peter Stormare is Abram, uncle of Yosef (the son of the Vigoma mafia guy that started all this quilombo), who reminds us of the myth of The man in the bag and the error of his nephew while from his office he hears the shots and the screams of pain from his men.
But John really wants to abandon this life of violence. It's all he always wanted. He had a glimpse of the other side of the party and now he is no longer interested in going back. However, the Italian playboy Santino D’Antonion (Riccardo Scamarcio), responsible for John's ability to fulfill that impossible task of the first film (the mission that allowed him to go out of business) returns to collect his debt. And in John Wick's universe, debts are paid.
Kolstad, again in charge of the script, knowsthat one of the things that kept the public captive in the original is the mythology he created for this sophisticated underground world, and that is why the sequel expands it to show us a true underground network of information and services and present an even larger number of various characters.
We discovered then that the Continental is not just a hotel but a chain of hotels around the world, that contracts are requested through a system of operators that are managed almost entirely with an analogous reception and archiving system, that Laurence Fishburne is the King of the tramp culture with contacts in all parts of New York and that there is a Brotherhood of Assassins. Weapon sommeliers, warlike couture tailors and cartographers are some of the characters that will offer us a more in-depth look inside this Pandora box that is the world of the mafia and the murderers. Of course, all this exhibition makes the film not only longer than the original, but it forces (now lonely) director Chad Stahelski to lower the frenetism quota a bit. Fortunately, even with its two-hour duration, John Wick: Chapter 2 achieves an attractive balance of action and pause: when Keanu is not charging a dozen enemies with everything that is nearby, he is showing us some more detail of the universe that lives that can be relevant at that time or later in the story.
Jonathan Sela's photograph gave the film a dirty but sophisticated look, and the use of warm tones in the red range represented the journey of a man who literally digs up his past to get back into the hell that cost him so much to leave. This time the task is in the hands of Dan Lausten, who fills the scenes (mostly the underground ones) with cold tones to reinforce a concept that we can also read in the absence of expressiveness of the character: John Wick is a walking dead man, both for the reward for his head, and for the decisions that he's been forced to take it over and over again since we met him. The final showdown, in the middle of an art exhibition full of mirrors, has an extraordinary camera and lighting work, and is to be seen several times.