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Soundtrack review: John Wick chapter 2 (Tyler Bates & Joel J Richard – 2017)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: John Wick chapter 2 (Tyler Bates & Joel J Richard – 2017)

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“John Wick: Chapter 2” is a 2017 American neo-noir action thriller film directed by Chad Stahelski and written by Derek Kolstad. A sequel to the 2014 film John Wick, the film stars Keanu Reeves, Common, Laurence Fishburne, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ruby Rose, John Leguizamo and Ian McShane. The plot follows hitman John Wick who must go on the run after a bounty is placed on his head. I was surprised by how much I loved both the first movie and its score. Keanu Reeves as a super hero assassin is awesome and the energy and action were almost unparalleled. The music matched that so I am very happy we get a sequel. Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard wrote the music.

Right from the start with “Shark Chevelle” I am back in the high energy industrial mood of the film. I don’t need to see this second movie before listening to the score to get the feel of it. I expected no breaks and a relentless pace and this is what I get from the music. I am excited to listen to this album, I feel adrenaline pumping and it makes me not want to wait to see the movie as well. I can almost see that strange blue light that’s ever present in the movie flickering as the bullets fly when I listen to “Sumo Showdown”; I want to see the scene it was written for right now! Yes some might say that this is not really film music but just a great industrial electronic music album but who cares. It works both in the context of the high energy movie and as a standalone listen.

The score explodes with little variation in the sound but that’s ok because this is how the movie moves as well and there’s no need to break the pace or interrupt that flow; if nonstop killing and a very high body count can be considered a flow. Of course we get the mandatory emotional moments when our hero remembers his wife but the atmospheric nuance is cut from the same fabric as the rest of the score. In the few moments when the music is different, the composers do go deeper with the longest and most interesting cue from the score “Santino”; it’s an ambient piece which also includes a Latin guitar motif that I didn’t expect to find in “John Wick”. I also like the small but efficient orchestral inserts like the beginning of “Wick in Rome”.

Tyler Bates and Joel J Richard have already created, in two scores, a clear and easily identifiable John Wick sound: raw, dark, industrial and highly energetic. There are hardly any surprises in “John Wick chapter 2” but I don’t mind since I like this sound and I happen to think it fits the movie and story perfectly and in the end, this is what it’s all about with film music.

Cue rating: 81 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 16 / 61

Album excellence: 26%

Highlights:

Shark Chevelle

Sumo Showdown

Missing Helen

Razor Bath

Catacombs

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Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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