I avoided the original John Wick for the longest time, but when I finally saw it I was pleasantly surprised.
So, naturally, I opted to see the sequel.
And good news for fans of John Wick, the sequel might actually improve a bit on the original.
One of the more interesting things about the whole John Wick series is the world-building, this idea that there is a whole underworld full of colorful criminals with its own currency, rules, hotels, and a host of other services. Chapter 2 picks up shortly after the first one ended. That movie got off the ground and running when the stupid son of a Russian mobster and John’s old boss stole John’s car and killed his dog. John avenged the dog first, so this movie opens with John getting his car back. After that task is completed, John returns home with his new dog, buries his guns and gold again, and then settles in to do whatever it is he plans to do for the rest of his life. No sooner is he done laying the concrete when there’s a visitor at the door. It’s an Italian mobster calling in a marker John had used to get out of the life of a hitman to begin with. John really doesn’t want to be that guy again, but much like the first movie, events have a way of forcing John’s hand.
Nobody goes to see a John Wick movie for anything deep. These are popcorn movies in the finest sense of the word. Keanu Reeves isn’t my favorite actor, but the character of John Wick suits his strengths, and there’s such a rush of kinetic thrills that it pretty much doesn’t matter what’s going on. These are action-packed movies with clear, fast-paced action. Reeves famously taught himself how to fire real guns for these films, and while these may not be the most realistic of movies, anyone who knows anything about firearms (I have been assured because I am not one of those people) will tell you he holds the guns correctly and always reloads at the right time. And while the first film confined John’s activities to the underworld of New York City, here we see him venture out to Rome and then even move around ordinary people, and I don’t think a single, solitary “civilian” got so much as a scratch no matter what was going on around John. Wick only ever kills his targets and in self-defense, and they seem to follow the same code.
Besides expanding on the world John Wick calls home with the usual splashy design and shot composition, this movie also gives John something he didn’t seem to have much of the first time around: a guy who can make him sweat. Common plays a man named Cassian, another assassin who seems to be able to hold his own with John. The movie also brings in Reeves’ old Matrix co-star Laurence Fishburne as a homeless crime lord, and has another possible Matrix reference due to a fight scene in and around a subway station.
I rated the first film eight out of ten. I got my adrenaline pumping for this one, perhaps due to seeing at the Alamo Drafthouse with the right crowd as opposed to home alone on HBO. As such, I’m giving the movie nine out of ten appropriately named concierges.
By the by, this movie ends with a clear set up for a Chapter 3, so I am seriously hoping we get one.