John Wick: Chapter 2 (Blu-ray) (2017)
Featurette-Retro Wick: Exploring the Unexpected Success of John Wick
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Training John Wick
Featurette-As Above, So Below: The Underworld of John Wick
Featurette-Friends, Confidantes: The Keanu/Chad Partnership
Featurette-Car Fu Ride-Along
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Chamber Check: Evolution of a Fight Scene
|Year Of Production||2017|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Ads Then Menu|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Chad Stahelski|
Joel J. Richard
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.40:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.40:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English||Smoking||Yes, Cigars are smoked|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
†††† Ostensibly appearing out of nowhere, 2014ís John Wick exceeded all reasonable expectations, belying its low-budget origins to blow film-goers away with astonishing gun-fu and outstanding cinematography, becoming one of the best movies of the year. For 2017ís John Wick: Chapter 2, stuntman-turned-filmmaker Chad Stahelski returns to direct another round of adrenaline-charged carnage, crafting an organic-feeling continuation that adds further expanse to both the franchise and the intricate, intriguing world that it inhabits. Gloriously violent and inventive, Chapter 2 is the best kind of action sequel, as it goes bigger but never loses sight of the charms of its predecessor. Compared to big-budget summer blockbusters, the John Wick movies offer a refreshing dose of ferocious, old-school action thatís considerably more gripping than motion pictures that cost five times as much. For action lovers, John Wick: Chapter 2 is pure heaven.
†††† After exacting revenge against the Russian mafia and retrieving the beloved car that was stolen from him, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) hopes to re-enter retirement and leave his past behind him for good this time. However, Johnís peace is once again broken when Italian crime figure Santino DíAntonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) demands that he honour a Marker, forcing the former assassin to once again pick up his tools and return to work. Santino tasks John with the assassination of his sister (Claudia Gerini), which would allow him to take her seat at a top-secret organisation for crime families. John completes the job in Rome, attracting more enemies along the way, but Santino instantly betrays him, putting a substantial bounty on Johnís head to hopefully prevent any future problems. With hitmen of all shapes and sizes coming after him, John endeavours to keep himself alive long enough to get revenge on Santino.
†††† John Wick was marvellous in its simplicity, using the basic premise of a one-man-army revenge tale as a jumping-off point for a slick mood piece filled with insanely-choreographed action set-pieces and efficient storytelling. Once again scripted by Derek Kolstad, Chapter 2 is beefier at two hours in length, widening the world in which these talented killers operate, and moving overseas to show the breadth of the Continental Hotel network. Admittedly, the action is slower to start compared to the original movie - Chapter 2 opens with a thrilling extended sequence of vehicular mayhem (picking up right where the 2014 film ended), but the first half is otherwise devoid of set-pieces. However, Stahelski guides the material with a sure hand, maintaining a rhythm thatís unhurried but never boring, and the universe-building is fascinating to boot. Itís a treat to see John in Europe as he carefully selects his weaponry (complete with a brilliant Peter Serafinowicz cameo) and gets fitted for a tactical suit, and it also helps that the movie has an endearing sense of humour about itself - in a cameo appearance, Peter Stormare can only sit in his office and listen to the carnage going on outside, terrified that John is going to come after him.
†††† Stahelski directs solo this time (his John Wick co-director David Leitch was off making Atomic Blonde), and itís clear that his skills as a filmmaker have only grown. With double the budget of the first movie, Chapter 2 goes absolutely bananas for its action set-pieces, which are big, insanely violent, and tightly-edited. John doesnít just shoot his enemies - he also breaks bones and stabs them depending on the situation, and once again the feared assassin canít be beaten in close combat. In a fun nod to the original movie, we even get to see why everybody is so afraid to let John near a pencil. Stahelski really had his work cut out for him for the finale, with a climactic shootout taking place in a hall of mirrors that must have been a logistical nightmare, but the finished sequence is a downright stunner. Itís all topped off with a throbbing, heart-pounding original score by Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard, amplifying the excitement. Miraculously, too, Chapter 2 never feels too sadistic or mean-spirited despite the level of the sheer ultraviolence on display - itís fun to watch, sold with an agreeable sense of glee. However, the movie never comes across as campy, with Stahelski instead maintaining a hard edge throughout.
†††† Since this is a sequel, it did need to raise to stakes, and therefore it ran the risk of ruining the established belief that John is the unstoppable ďboogeymanĒ since this time so many trained killers come after him seeking a payday. Luckily, Reeves has a real talent for physical acting, so while he is capable of pulling off insane fight moves, Reeves makes it clear that such acts do exhaust John and each assassin can only slow him down a little - and itís only the cumulative effort that may just bring him down. Additionally, itís a real treat to see John so well-matched against Cassian (Common), whoís certainly no slouch when it comes to fisticuffs. Thanks to slick cinematography courtesy of Dan Laustsen, Chapter 2 is visually identical to its predecessor; every sequence makes smart use of colourful lighting techniques, instantly making it more aesthetically pleasing than most other contemporary action flicks. Furthermore, modern actioners have grown to rely on shaky-cam, but compositions throughout John Wick: Chapter 2 are smooth and well-judged, allowing you to watch and appreciate the mayhem without suffering a migraine. And since the action choreography is so d*** good, the result is far more exciting than any shaky-cam production could hope to be.
†††† Reeves is joined by a capable supporting cast, including his Matrix trilogy co-star Laurence Fishburne who turns in a terrific performance as a prominent underground crime lord known as The Bowery King. There are returning actors, too - Ian McShane is a delight once again as the New York City Continental manager Winston, while John Leguizamo can always be counted upon for a couple of amusing comments. The chief villain this time is Scamarcio, whoís slimy and spineless in all the right ways, making for a good foil. Film buffs may also recognise Italian actor Franco Nero in a minor role as the Continental Hotel manager in Rome.
†††† John Wick: Chapter 2 is one badass action movie, and although it leaves room for an inevitable third movie, it doesnít spend the majority of its runtime setting things up to be handled in future instalments - itís thankfully focused on the story at hand. Thereís so much to enjoy and digest here, with John also encountering a deadly mute assassin (played by Australian model Ruby Rose), questioning the assassin code, and of course enjoying the company of his new dog. While Chapter 2 is a stronger movie than its predecessor on the whole, itís inherently unable to replicate the same feeling of discovery that the original brought with it since nobody could have predicted that it would turn out so amazing. In an age where superhero blockbusters rule the box office, itís nice to see that old-school action still has a place in our contemporary cinematic zeitgeist.
†††† John Wick: Chapter 2 debuts on Blu-ray courtesy of Studio Canal and Universal Sony, who present the movie in high definition framed at its original aspect ratio of 2.40:1. The visual style of this particular actioner favours rich blacks and lots of coloured lighting, making it potentially hard to nail in regular old 1080p with the format's limited colour space compared to 4K Ultra HD. Happily, however, the resultant AVC-encoded presentation is a real winner, handling the dark and varied colour palette with relative ease.
†††† No matter the lighting conditions, this sequel looks razor-sharp and highly detailed. Even in medium and longer shots, the transfer never appears smeary or blurry. Naturally, close-ups do fare best - all close-ups of Reeves reveal plenty of texture on his face, and resolve his facial hair flawlessly. Chapter 2 was shot digitally with Arri Alexa rigs like its predecessor, and there is a very light layer of source-related noise at times which helps to accentuate the texture of the image, never proving to be a distraction. Colours are strong, and the transfer thankfully looks faithful to the theatrical presentation in terms of the colour palette.
†††† Fortunately, I didn't detect anything in the way of encoding anomalies - there's no aliasing or banding, and though some scenes do look dark, the presentation doesn't give over to unsightly black crush. But while the transfer is very impressive and sharp, it is bested by its 4K Ultra HD counterpart, which resolves more detail and ultimately looks richer thanks to its High Dynamic Range grade. But in an age where I've been spoiled by some amazing 4K presentations, it is welcome to watch a Blu-ray like this and be reminded of how amazing regular old 1080p can be in the right hands. But then again, considering the quality of the production and the source, it would take a lot to make John Wick: Chapter 2 look bad on home video.
†††† Only English subtitles are available. On my display, I found the subtitles easy to read and free of issues.
†††† Whereas the Region A Blu-ray from Lionsgate comes with a Dolby Atmos track (the movie was mixed and screened theatrically in Atmos), this local edition from Studio Canal and Universal Sony only provides a lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 track. The downgrade is certainly noticeable compared to the American release (which I own), though it will probably prove to be "good enough" to the less discerning. John Wick: Chapter 2 is a balls-to-the-wall action movie, of course, and therefore it's filled with booming sound effects, from gunshots and punches to roaring car engines and explosions. Luckily, the track does well in the subwoofer department, making sure that each action scene makes as much impact as possible.
†††† Unfortunately, I found the dynamic range of the track to be a tad limited. This is a mostly front-centric presentation, with the rear channels predominantly reserved for music and subtle atmospherics, but it lacks the type of panning and precise surround channel placement that makes the Atmos track such a standout. Indeed, the Atmos track is more dynamic and lively compared to this pared-down 5.1 mix. On a more positive note, dialogue is usually well-prioritised despite how loud this movie can be, and there are no encoding issues like hisses or drop-outs. Happily, this is a crystal-clear mix, despite its shortcomings.
†††† If the movie was only mixed at 5.1, this track would be more acceptable. But with a far superior Atmos track available, this doesn't quite cut the mustard, solid though it may be on its own terms. It may prove fine to some, and that's okay - but we deserve better.
†††† The disc's only other audio option is an English Descriptive track, which I didn't sample.
|Surround Channel Use|
†††† A fair amount of video extras are available on the disc, though it's missing a number of special features available on the Region A release - particularly the audio commentary with Reeves and Stahelski. The commentary would have perfectly rounded out the disc.
†††† Three deleted scenes are available to view here. There is no individual scene selection, but each scene is given a separate chapter stop. The first scene shows Santino visiting Aurelio's chop shop, while the second scene sees the brief return of the character Charlie, played by David Patrick Kelly (who's credited but doesn't appear in the final movie). All three of these scenes are interesting, to be sure, but it's clear why they were excised.
†††† As implied by the title, this is a short recap of the success of the first John Wick - even the filmmakers themselves were surprised by how well it was received! The segment also looks at how the team approached the second movie from a story perspective, and went about expanding the universe. (Yes, the title of the featurette is missing an "of" on the disc menu, which really shows that the disc was made without much care.)
†††† In this featurette, the previsualisation is touched upon. Whereas CG-filled blockbusters rely on computers to create previz sequences, the stunt team for the John Wick movies actually stage and shoot the fight choreography with stand-ins, to plan each of the fights. A chunk of the previz work is shown, intercut with the finished sequences.
†††† I can't write enough words about how amazing the fight sequences are in John Wick: Chapter 2, and this featurette delves into the training required to allow the actors to do many of the fights themselves. Front and centre is Reeves of course, who trained rigorously for the first movie and had to double his efforts on the second, working for months with various teams. Much like the first movie, he also trained in stunt driving and shooting. Seriously, if anybody is thinking of picking a fight with Reeves...don't! The fight training undergone by Common and Ruby Rose is touched upon, as well.
†††† This next featurette focuses on the dense world in which this franchise takes place, full of highly-trained assassins living by a code, and with Continentals in every major city around the world.
†††† Chapter 2 opens with a tight, exciting series of car-centric action sequences, and this piece takes a look behind-the-scenes at what it took to execute the car stunts.
†††† Director Chad Stahelski first met Reeves on the first Matrix movie when the now-filmmaker was the actor's stunt double, and their longstanding friendship eventually led into the first John Wick. This featurette is all about their friendship, as well as their working relationship. There's lots of quality information here, and the interviews are intercut with awesome on-set footage showing Reeves in action.
†††† Wick can kill intended targets with just about anything - and this featurette looks over the various weapons he uses throughout the movie, from firearms to cars and even a pencil. Reeves makes it clear that everybody wanted to add a pencil fight for the sequel, and he discusses the pencil in detail.
†††† This last behind-the-scenes featurette looks at many of the fight scenes throughout the movie, and how they were shot. There's more previz and choreography footage to be seen here, as well as on-set action.
†††† This last piece endeavours to count all of the kills perpetrated by John throughout the movie (curiously, it misses the whole opening sequence). There's a mix of final film footage and behind-the-scenes footage. The final tally is over a hundred, to the surprise of nobody.
There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
†††† The Region A-locked Blu-ray from Lionsgate features the uncut edition, as well as a Dolby Atmos track. That alone renders it superior to the local disc. But the Region A disc also features the following extras that are omitted from the Australian release:
†††† Region A is definitely the winner, though it is region locked so you'll need a suitable player. Just remember, too, that the Region B U.K. edition is identical to our local release, so avoid that one too. I personally own the American 4K set, as well as the Dutch steelbook from Summit Entertainment which is English friendly and coded to Region B, making it ideal. So, shop around.
†††† I loved the original John Wick and was left eager to see a sequel. Thankfully, a sequel has now become a reality, and it's every bit as awesome as its predecessor. John Wick: Chapter 2 is slick, well-made, and gloriously violent. It's one of the best movies of the year.
†††† Despite a solid technical presentation and a nice selection of bonus features (though not as many as the American release), I cannot recommend this disc in any capacity because it features the censored edition which was actually prepared for the movie's release in the United Kingdom. Some viewers may not mind so much, but the integrity of a motion picture is paramount for any home video release. Avoid the local release and import a superior edition from overseas.
|DVD||Samsung UBD-K8500 4K HDR Blu-Ray Player, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG OLED65E6T. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 2160p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Amplification||Samsung Series 7 HT-J7750W|
|Speakers||Samsung Tall Boy speakers, 7.1 set-up|