Thanks to some wild action conducted by a sympathetic character with perfect aim and acute situational awareness, 2014’s John Wick was not only one of the best real-world action movies — i.e. not sci-fi, not comic book — since 1997’s Airforce One, it was also the most clever and stylish assassin flick since 1994’s The Professional. But while John Wick Chapter 2 is almost its equal, and the movie’s Blu-ray Combo Pack and 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack do the film justice, the DVD edition comes up a bit short.
When John Wick Chapter 2 begins, we see that the titular antihero is on a quest to get his car back, the one that started this whole mess in the first place. But just when he thinks he can finally retire, again, he gets called upon by a crime lord to whom he owes a favor. Suffice it to say, Wick doesn’t spend the rest of the movie watering that guy’s plants.
As with the first, John Wick Chapter 2 is full of inventive gunfights and fisticuffs, all of which happens in rather interesting places. It also, once again, does a masterful job of showing us the fascinating world of the assassin, one that’s far more organized and supportive than you might suspect. The idea that there’s a gun sommelier is so delightful that it made me giggle. It all, oddly, reminds me of what The Venture Brothers did for supervillains and henchmen with The Guild Of Calamitous Intent.
John Wick Chapter 2 also boast an impressive cast, one on par with, well, the first John Wick. Keanu Reeves (Constantine) is as effortless here as he always is, while both Lance Reddick (Fringe) and Ian McShane (Game Of Thrones) are cool and intriguing in their supporting roles as they were in the first one. As for the new players, Ruby Rose (Resident Evil: The Final Chapter) is as magnetic here as Adrianne Palicki (Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.) was in the original, while both Laurence Fishburne (Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice) and Common (Selma) bring something interesting to the party.
But it’s the action that really makes John Wick Chapter 2 stand out. Not only does Reeves have some impressive fight scenes — he was Neo in The Matrix movies after all — but the brawls have the same rough feel as those in the Bourne movies and such Daniel Craig-era Bond movies as Casino Royale and Skyfall. As if that wasn’t enough, it has gunfights that would make a video game designer take notes, and far cooler car stunts than anything we’ve seen in the Fast And Furious movies.
That said, John Wick Chapter 2 isn’t as solid as the original. But only slightly. Granted, much of it is because that first movie was such a fresh take on the assassin action flick, and this sequel, while interesting, can’t obviously break the same new ground a second time. But it’s also because Wick’s motivation in the first one was more unique, more personal, and ultimately made his vengeance that much more satisfying.
While John Wick Chapter 2 is an exemplary action movie, it’s perfectly complimented by the extras on the Blu-rays. The DVD, unfortunately, is another story.
To start, the Blu-rays and DVD of John Wick Chapter 2 all boast a running commentary by Reeves and director Chad Stahelski, who go into great detail about the film and its creation. Though it’s more interesting than most, largely because Reeves seems genuinely enthusiastic about the film, and constantly peppers Stahelski with interesting questions.
Next, the John Wick Chapter 2 Blu-rays and DVD have two behind-the-scenes featurettes. In “Rero Wick: Exploring The Unexpected Success Of John Wick,” the cast and crew of John Wick Chapter 2 spend almost five minutes talking about, well, the first movie, and how it led to them being in this sequel. Then, in “As Above, So Below: The Underworld Of John Wick,” the cast and crew spend another five minutes talking about the support systems enjoyed by assassins and other criminals in this film.
As solid and illuminating as these these extras may be, though, they’re sadly all you get if you buy John Wick Chapter 2 on DVD. If you want the full picture, so to speak, you need to get either of the Blu-rays, which have nine additional extras.
First up on the John Wick Chapter 2 Blu-rays are a trio of deleted scenes, all three of which are substantial and interesting, especially the curious one called “Vatican.” Though, sadly, they don’t come with commentary or any indication of where they were cut from or why they were cut.
Next, the Blu-rays of John Wick Chapter 2 have a five making-of featurettes: “Training John Wick,” in which they spend twelve minutes on the stunts and the training Reeves went through to pull them off; the five-minute-long “WICK-vizzed,” which details how they used computers to map out the bigger action scenes; “Car Fu Ride-Along,” a nearly five-minute piece on the movie’s car stunts; the ten-minute-long “Chamber Check: Evolution Of Fight Scene,” which explores the contributions of the fight choreographers, as well as what went into the fight scenes; and “Wick’s Toolbox,” is a detailed, eight-minute look at the guns and other weapons used in the movie.
Admittedly, all of these making-of featurettes are fairly typical for this kind of thing, and would probably be better had they been combined into a single making-of featurette along with the other two I mentioned earlier. But as is, they’re informative and well done.
Further augmenting the making-of videos is “Friends, Confidantes: The Keanu/Chad Partnership,” an almost ten-minute-long featurette in which Reeves, Stahelski, and others discuss the working and personal relationship Reeves and Stahelski have had since Stahelski was first hired to be Reeves’ stunt double on The Matrix.
The John Wick Chapter 2 Blu-rays also includes “A Museum Tour With Sir Jonathan Wick,” a cheeky, two-minute tour of the art museum in Rome where part of the movie is set; “Kill Count,” a three-minute-long supercut of all the people who died in the film; and “Dog Wick,” a parody trailer for a non-existent movie in which John is killed and his dog goes on a revenge-fueled killing spree.
Last, but by no means least, the John Wick Chapter 2 Blu-rays have the original theatrical trailer. Which may not seem like a big deal, but as someone who likes watching trailers, feels they’re part of the story of a movie, and who feels that a movie’s Blu-ray and DVD should present the complete story of the movie they present, having the original trailer on the John Wick Chapter 2 Blu-rays is a welcome inclusion, especially given how often they’re not included in movie Blu-rays and DVDs.
Ultimately, anyone who enjoyed John Wick will get a thrill out of watching Keanu Reeves kick even more butt in John Wick Chapter 2. Especially if you do so on one of the Blu-ray editions and not the rather lacking DVD.