John Wick (Keanu Reeves) kills the Elder, the only individual above the High Table in Morocco. Because of this, New York Chad Stahelski Continental Hotel manager Winston Scott (Ian McShane) and his concierge, Charon (Lance Reddick), are summoned to the Marquis Vincent de Gramont (Bill Skarsgard), a senior member of the High Table. Vincent kills Charon as a warning and sets a high open bounty on John Wicks. While the world’s best assassins are lured by the lucre to kill him, the two deadliest seem to be his old friend Caine (Donnie Yen), and a new entity, Mr Nobody (Shamier Anderson), who travels with an attack dog. His only hope to get out of this mess is to formally challenge Vincent to a duel and kill him. To do so, he has to be part of the High Table once more. His adoptive sister Katia (Natalia Tena), agrees to take him back into the fold, only if he manages to kill Killa (Scott Adkins), a German High Table member who murdered her father. John Wick successfully does so, leading to a mammoth showdown involving Caine, Mr Nobody, hundreds of hitmen and ultimately, Vincent himself…
The storyline doesn’t do justice to the parade of continuous action that you see for close to three hours. Director Chad Stahelski, who started out as a stuntman before moving up the ladder, pushes his actors and stunt doubles to the limits of human endurance. Never mind the fact that people aren’t actually being hit by speeding vehicles or falling off three floors on top of a car. It all looks so authentic that the audience gasps and groans, as if it’s physically feeling the pain. Some ideas are way out of this world. To see Scott Adkins kick some butt, delivering high kicks while wearing a prosthetic suit which bloats him out to Sumo proportions is deliciously wild. And what’s more audacious is having Donnie Yen play a blind assassin who is almost better than John Wick despite his handicap. It’s almost as if someone has given Ip Man Jedi powers. Donnie Yen dodging a hail of bullets playing a blind man asks for a complete suspension of disbelief but you can’t take your eyes off him while he’s doing that. There were rumours that we were going to see a crossover between the John Wick universe and Nobody universe. Well, that hasn’t actually happened, as Bob Odenkirk, who plays the titular character in the 2021 film, isn’t part of this movie. But we do have a Mr Nobody character, played by Shamier Anderson, who is something of a wildcard here. He and his canine companion bring their own dose of action and offer another layer to the proceedings.
The film can be seen as a homage to Keanu Reeves. Whether it’s The Matrix (1999), 47 Ronin (2013), or his directorial venture, Man of Tai Chi (2013), we see echoes of the previous films in this. John Woo has been credited as being the father of Gun Fu, where gun battle is combined with martial arts elements. And so much of John Woo’s early work, from films like A Better Tomorrow (1986), Bullet in the Head and more is reflected here. Chad Stahelski must have idolised Woo growing up and the student, one can say, has surpassed the master here.
Donnie Yen is 59 and Keanu Reeves is a year younger and yet both make action look so easy even at their age. They share a great camaraderie and it’s a treat to see two great action stars coming together and regaling the audience with their distinct fighting styles. While their individual scenes do make for a great watch, it’s their scenes together that truly elevates the film. Watching them together is like watching poetry in motion and kudos to the director and his team for bringing a lyrical quality to the action.
All-in-all, watch the film for its never-seen-before action sequences, as also for the pleasure of watching two masters of action, Keanu Reeves and Donnie Yen, giving their best to the film.