Daniel Nava reviews “John Wick: Chapter 2” on Chicago Cinema Circuit


The aerial shot of the New York City-scape that opens Chad Stahelski’s John Wick: Chapter 2 features the brief but unmistakable image of Buster Keaton’s Sherlock Jr projected aside a skyscraper. Stahelski, a stuntman-turned-director, pays tribute to the messiah of cinematic physicality, submitting a fever dream of violent giddiness that’s heart-delaying in its beauty. The lineage of reference here is not one ingrained in modern action filmmaking but rather, much like Mad Max: Fury Road and the debt it pays to films like Battleship Potemkin and The Phantom Carriage, rooted in the silent comedies of Chaplin, Keaton, and Lloyd; filmmakers that expressed their anxieties and wrath through the physical. The architecture of John Wick: Chapter 2 recognizes the foundation that the three silent comics, particularly Keaton, have on contemporary action filmmaking, and as such, Stahelski crafts something that’s all at once modern and timeless.


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