May/2018

Blu-ray Review: John Wick 2

by Gumbercules9000 on Jun 5th, 2017

Hi everyone, Bryan here….

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THE FILM

Ever since Keanu Reeves jumped into the role of John Wick in 2014, we all have wanted a sequel in the worst way. Filmmakers Chad Stahelski and David Leitch created a monster of a franchise with that film that brought the action genre back to a high point. That first film had a simple story and some of the best action sequences in a long time. Some bad guys steal John Wick’s car and kill his precious puppy dog a few days after his wife dies. Not knowing John Wick is the best assassin in the world, Wick sets out on revenge and literally kills everybody. It was just so good and showed the world what everyone secretly wants to do if some jerk killed your dog. The first film had a modest budget of only $20 million, but ended up making almost $90 million, which leads us to future sequels.

In 2017, we have ‘John Wick: Chapter 2‘, plus we hear that there are more films on the way, as well as a TV series. Most sequels, especially in the action genre have a certain motto. “Bigger is Better.” While parts of that rings true for ‘John Wick 2‘, there are still plenty of simple sets and good old fashioned gun play and fight choreography that keeps the film grounded. This sequel runs over two hours, which is twenty minutes longer than its predecessor, and it can drag a little bit in between the intense and well executed fight scenes, but it never detracts from the high entertainment value of the film. This sequel starts off fairly soon after the first film with some winks, nods, and throwbacks to the original film, which is quite funny and one hell of a first scene that will keep you on edge. From here, a former Italian colleague asks for Wick’s help, reminding him that Wick took a blood oath to help him.

Betrayal sets in and sooner than later, Wick has a multi-million dollar bounty set on his head. Now, Wick must not only fight the common bad guys, but also lay into some highly trained assassins of all races, genders, and body weights. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to see John Wick fight a Sumo Wrestler? Well, you’ll find out here. In the first film, we hear tales of how good John Wick is at his job, even detailing some of his previous work, and even a glimpse of the assassin world he seems to want to escape from. All of that is discussed more here with secret passageways and hidden doors that reveal a network of ‘James Bond‘ type of weaponry, suits, and other materials that assassins would like. Not only that, but we dive into a bit of the mythos behind this network and how it’s all set up. It all seems fairly over-the-top here, but it’s all set up for future installments to explore.

Keanu Reeves is 52 years old and he shows no signs of aging or getting rusty with his fighting techniques. The guy is just a badass, and it shows on film with every takedown, hit, kick, and gunshot. There are for sure some over-the-top character throughout, but it works with this franchise. A new assassin (Common) gives him a run for his money, as well as a former colleague played by Laurence Fishburne, which you can’t help but smile from ear to ear in hopes of a ‘Matrix‘ reference. ‘John Wick: Chapter 2‘ is highly entertaining and so much fun from start to finish. This film sets up for multiple films in the future and has some of the best gun play action scenes around. There are no shortage of head shots here. Bring on all the ‘John Wick‘ movies now, please.

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THE VIDEO/THE AUDIO

The Video: John Wick: Chapter 2 comes with a great 1080p HD transfer and is presented in 2.40:1 aspect ratio. This video presentation is quite good with some excellent colors and vivid detail throughout. Even though this sequel is mostly steeped in  darkness, the detail isn’t hindered in any way. In fact, the detail is sharp, showing every wound, bruise, cut, scrape, and individual hair on the actor’s faces. John Wick’s vehicles show water spots, dents, and dirt very nicely as well. Wider shots never go soft and capture the chaotic world and art galleries very well with all of their great textures.

Colors are somewhat subdued most of the time, since a lot of the film takes place in the dark or dark underground tunnels. However, there are plenty of moments where color pops right off screen, whether it be neon lasers during a concert or the rich color scheme at the infamous assassin hotel. Black levels are consistently deep and inky with zero crush and there are no major compression issues, leaving this video presentation with great marks.

The Audio: This release comes with an impressive Dolby Atmos audio mix that starts off with a great char chase and tons of fighting. This is a fully immersive and chaotic audio experience, which will rattle your walls and bones around every corner without being to overpowering. With the deep bass of car engines roaring or motorcycles zooming by, you get a ton of depth with this audio mix. Every fun blast is nuanced and realistic with the many different gins being used on all aspects of the screen, which has some excellent directionality.

When John Wick is in the underground tunnel, the reverb and echoes of the shotgun and pistols sound incredible and pack a big punch every time a gun goes off. Hits, kicks, take downs, and punches are fantastic as well. The height speakers provide some excellent sound with rain falling down, guns going off, and other ambient noises. When in quieter situations, the ambient sounds are full and effective on all points. The score always adds to the entertaining and suspenseful moments of the film and the dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to follow, and free of any pops, cracks, hiss, or shrills.

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THE EXTRAS

Audio Commentary – Filmmaker Chad Stahelski and Keanu Reeves discuss making the sequel, working with the other actors, the story, character, and stunts. This is more scene specific commentary rather than a non-stop track, but it’s still good.

Training John Wick (HD, 12 Mins.) – Behind the scenes footage and interviews show how some of hte stunts were done and the training that was invovled with the gunplay and fight choreography.

Friends, Confidantes: The Keanu/Chad Partnership (HD, 10 Mins.) – Here we have a look at the two guys who have been working together for a while and what makes them work so well together. Chad was Keanu’s stunt double before he jumped into the director’s chair.

Chamber Check: Evolution of a Fight Scene (HD, 10 Mins.) – The cast and crew discuss training for the fight scenes and how they were made with some behind the scenes footage.

Wick’s Toolbox (HD, 8 Mins.) – A lot of the weapons for the film are seen and discussed here. 

WICK-vizzed (HD, 5 Mins.) – Here is more behind the scenes training and rehearsal footage with some pre-production elements added in.

Retro Wick: Exploring the Unexpected Success of John  Wick (HD, 5 Mins.) – Here is a glimpse with some interviews of people talking about how shocked they were of how the first film was so popular.

As Above, So Below: The Underworld of John  Wick (HD, 5 Mins.) – This cool short bonus feature talks about all of the details that went into creating this insane assassin underworld. 

Car Fu Ride-Along (HD, 5 Mins.) – Here is a look at the car collisions and crashes during the film. Looks like they used a few cars.

A Museum Tour with Sir Jonathan Wick (HD, 2 Mins.) – A funny tour into a museum of art with some of the kills in the film spliced in.

Kill Count (HD, 3 Mins.) – A montage of tall the kills in the movie. Fantastic.

Dog Wick Short (HD, 2 Mins.) – That infamous short where the dog takes revenge over John Wick’s death. Hilarious.

Deleted Scenes(HD, 8 Mins.) – Three scenes that are worth watching, but don’t add much to the overall feeling of the film.

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2 Mins.) – Trailer for the film.

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THE ULTIMATE WORD

John Wick: Chapter 2 is a damn good sequel and is fun from start to finish. The subtle background and further information we receive from this assassin world is great and the fight scenes and stunts are next level. Keanu Reeves proves that he is still a badass even at 50 years old. The video presentation is excellent and that Dolby Atmos track is fantastic. There are a ton of great extras, making this HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

-Bryan Kluger

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