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John Wick: Chapter 2 (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

In the fall of 2015, everyone was taken by surprise by the popularity of the Keanu Reeves pure action film, John Wick. The Keanu Reeves-led film featured what seemed like a silly premise, but played into becoming an all timer thanks to some fresh, innovative and game changing action choreography that felt a bit of a return to form for the low budget affair. While the first one was a pretty modest hit, Lionsgate rolled the dice with this sequel, John Wick: Chapter 2 and were rewarded when this one built of the previous film at the box office, while continuing on with the critical praise. Wick’s second outing will be available on the 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray format (Just like the first, which looked LOVELY) on June 13th.  Get your pre-order in now by clicking on the Amazon link at the bottom of the page following the review.

Film 

Legendary hit man John Wick is forced out of retirement again by a former associate plotting to seize control of a shadowy international assassins’ guild. Bound by a blood oath to help him, John travels to Rome, where he squares off against some of the world’s deadliest killers.

If there were any concerns over whether or not the second John Wick film would be able to hold onto and keep up with the incredibly fresh, innovative action sequences seen in the first film, the opening should ease that right away. And also get your heart racing like you never left the theater after the first one. This sequel takes the familiarity of the first one by going back to a couple locales, but also going more extravagant and playing in bigger arenas with some longer chases. Opening up on a car “chase”(?) is definitely a highlight to keep your mouth watering until we get the plot kicked into gear. Another great moment comes later on with an elongated shootout/foot chase/fisticuffs between Keanu Reeves and Common that begins with an exciting chase through a tunnel with lots of shotgun action playing out.

While the first film casually referenced and hinted to a world of assassins with a code and their own language without much exposition or spoon feeding at all, this one dives into said mythology without overloading. John Wick’s world opens us as we spend more time with him. We learn more about who he is, where he came from and some mistakes he’s made. We get to spend more time with Winston and learn more on how exactly this world functions and more about what kind of officiate he is.

In addition to that, we get many new hitmen and people who pull the strings and hire out said hitmen, doing contracts and blood oaths. Some of the focused ones are the previously mentioned Common and then Ruby Rose’s mute assassin Ares. Of course, Common and Rose get the cooler fights, with great environments and more innovative kills/moves/action.  But, there are some lesser ones in this after John Wick that he disposes of faster, but gets some bad ass executions in on them as well. Let’s not forget the little guys here (Well, one was rather massive, but you catch my drift).

John Wick: Chapter 2 definitely does the first film proud and proves that lightning wasn’t just caught in a bottle once.  Its really fantastic seeing this kooky little world of John Wick open up even more in this film to new characters and ideas.  I also love the language used in these movies. And mad props to writing themselves into a pretty tall challenge for the next film. This movie pretty much picks up right where the last one left, not just storywise, but thrill-wise as well. Let’s turn the page to Chapter 3 already!

Video 

Encoding: HEVC / H.256

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Layers: BD-100

Clarity/Detail: Hot off the heels of a perfect transfer in Fox’s Logan comes Lionsgate’s answer with John Wick: Chapter 2. John Wick’s little bump over Logan is that this film features more use of vivid colors and filters so as to really pump out that HDR. Right from the start, this thing is a damn marvel to look at. And every scene gets better and better or offers something complete different and continually impressive. Detail is off the charts here with stuff like bricks showing every bit of rough texture, concrete plaster and decay. Clothing (A reminder, most everyone wears black and majority of this movie is dark sequences) contains a lot of great information like dust, dirt, tears and more. CG blood and fire really manage to hold their own and look gorgeously a piece of the live action footage. Just the blasts coming from guns give off a nice glow. The cobblestone streets at night in Rome with the wetness and nice glow off them are very impressive. Little things like some ashes floating off a cigar or the tiniest shard of glass hitting the pavement is accounted for. Hands down this is the best image I’ve reviewed for the site and one of the best I’ve ever seen on home video.

Depth:  Backgrounds appear very well pushed back and distance from the foregound with a nice 3 dimensional appeal sans what you could do with some glasses. Camera movements go very confident and all the crazy shifts, shaves whips and character movements come across smoothly, naturally and without any hint of jitter or blurring problems.

Black Levels: Blacks are very deep, saturated and are nice and darkened. Details hold strong and keep textures, patterns and other information intact impressively. In the open, the damn cars in the garage, especially when Keanu looks under a cloth cover at one, looks like you could damn well know what touching it looks like. You also can see drops of water perfectly on them as well.

Color Reproduction: Colors zap out at every corner. Little candle flames and distant lights (In buildings or a distant tail light on a car) glow and linger strong on the screen. Neon lights from clubs or from performance stage setups or a fancy store bounce right off your screen. The HDR is hypnotic with reds, purples, blues, greens and every color looking very saturated, buzzing, bold and rich.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural, looking very strong and full, and maintain a consistency from start to finish. Facial features look window-like from any distance, with freckles, wrinkles, make-up, lip texture, stubble, scrapes, dried blood, bruising, sweat and you name it complete clear and visible.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD default), English 2.0 Dolby Digital Audio Optimized for Late-Night Listening, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics: Wow, this is a first. I had to actually TURN MY VOLUME DOWN from my normal listening settings. John Wick: Chapter 2 is friggin’ SUPER LOUD and super proud. And its is a ruthless powerhouse of a track. This may be the best Dolby Atmos track there is. At least, this should be the new standard. It truly knows all its environments and carries sound around the room like no other. Effects are at the forefront, and the foley booms but is crisp, layered and well rounded. The mix is just a hair heavier on the score and the effects than it is the vocals, but its not really an issue, just something noted. Paired with the video transfer I went over above, John Wick: Chapter 2 is the ultimately home theater viewing experience.

Height: Bullets, people, fire, birds and many other things whiz past at times. There is also some light scoring and ambiance. This isn’t overdone and is naturally well accounted for in the mix.

Low Frequency Extension: Your subwoofer stomps with Godzilla-like effort here. Engines roar, car doors smack motorcyclists, shotguns blast, people get hit hard by bullets, bombs explode and so much more just really rock your room. Its incredibly intense.

Surround Sound Presentation: Traveling sound is quite the wonder here in this mix. Everything here is precise and perfectly set in terms of character placement and movement. This is an intense movie and the action has so much going on, but this track catches EVERYTHING and tracks it from its point of origin on screen to where it may land. Its insanely fun.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is clean and crisp. No matter how intense the action or loud the environment, diction and audibility is always very fine.

Extras 

John Wick: Chapter 2 comes with the Blu-ray edition and an UltraViolet digital copy of the film.

Audio Commentary

  • With Keanu Reeves and Director Chad Stahelski

Deleted Scenes (HD, 8:05)

RetroWick: Exploring the Unexpected Success of John Wick (HD, 4:34) – The cast (Keanu, Common, Fishburne, Ruby Rose) and crew of the second one talk about what they enjoyed about the first one and the many angles of what worked (Action, weird world, Keanu’s performance).  They also go over the decision to make a second one, expanding the world, bringing emotional weight without repeating and how it really is a Chapter 2 as it takes place the same week as the first one. Keanu loves it when John Wick suffers.

Training John Wick (HD, 12:00) – A featurette that goes over all the preparation for the action sequences in the film. How they pushed for Keanu to be a stuntman and also had him lending his hand in choreography. This also goes over the weapons and driving training. It shows lots of behind the scenes footage and footage of dojo fight training, sparring, car lot driving practice and of course more video of the bad ass live round shooting training with Keanu that made its rounds on the web when the film came out.

WICK-vizzed (HD, 5:13) – The previsualization processd is gone through from each stage. They wanted to make this movie bigger and meaner. It features plenty of the stunt team. It introduces us to the choreographers, stunt people and weapons trainers. They show a lot of the stuff that goes into make just one action shot step by step. There are a lot of great side-by-side comparisons of the practice videos, blueprints and such thrown against footage from the film.

Friends, Confidantes: The Keanu/Chad Partnership (HD, 9:54) – A sit down with the director and Keanu as they discuss working with one another and everything John Wick, its preceded by people from the cast and crew talking about their relationship to build it up.

As Above, So Below: The Underworld of John Wick (HD, 5:06) – This one goes over the world of assassins, mob bosses and other things that came with expanding the world and mythology in the sequel. Showing how things look globally and the decision to pick Rome.

Car Fu Ride-Along (HD, 4:44) –  A featurette of the behind-the-scenes of the opening sequence in the film. It opens with Keanu and Chad Stahleski talking about the end of the first film and coming up with where the sequel should begin. Well, he finished off every one, got a new dog…he needs to get his car back.

Chamber Check: Evolution of a Fight Scene (HD, 10:08) – A stunt featurette, with lots of crew and stunt people interviews, that goes over elevating and getting bigger and crazier than the last time out.  The term “Wickian World” is coined and a stunt coordinator talks of how it helps their creativity.

Wick’s Toolbox (HD, 8:14) – In this piece they talk about the weapons of John Wick in the sequel (“We’re upgrading him on everything”). This isn’t just limited to artillery, they talk the random objects he uses and planning for that.

A Museum Tour With Sir Johnathan Wick (HD, 2:11) – A tour guide gives a little history of the National Museum of Rome’s statues and rooms in which some of the action scenes were shot.  Its pretty much edited and played for humor.

Kill Count (HD, 3:09) – Complete with some on screen graphics, this goes over every kill, starting at 1, from the film starting after the opening sequence.

Dog Wick Short (HD, 1:37) – A parody trailer of the first film that has the dog and John Wick’s roles switched where the dog gets revenge and goes after the Russian mobsters.

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:40) –

Summary 

John Wick: Chapter 2 gives you even more thrills, characters and action to follow up the modern classic that is the first film. This release is one of the best presentations on home video I’ve ever seen, from incredible stunning and perfection in 4K Ultra-HD video imaging to mirroring it with an equally perfect and incredibly Dolby Atmos track. You want convinced or something to convince someone on “Why 4K UHD?” or “Why upgrade sound for Atmos?”, this is THE title to use. Extras prove to be very informative, thorough and leave you really no questions aside from asking if they could make the 3rd one right friggin’ now! Pick this one up without any hesitation as not only is a it a damn good action movie, but I’m blown away by the look and sound of this beast!

John Wick 2 4K

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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