I think it’s safe to say that John Wick has been quite the surprise. What many believed to just be a little brainless flick popping up out of nowhere, would go on to be one of 2014’s best actions films period. With many noting the potential for a franchise out of such a successful film romp, here we are three years with John Wick: Chapter 2. And I’m happy to say the results are just as satisfying as viewing the original.
Keanu Reeves returns as master assassin John Wick. Having avenged the death of his puppy and retrieved his stolen vehicle from the hands of the Russian crime syndicate, Wick has opted to return to retirement with his vengeance complete. However, an old associate named Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) believes he has returned to the game, and forces Wick to carry out one final deed thanks to a blood oath Wick had agreed to years prior. And yet, little tends to go well in the world of assassins, as you’ll learn that friends are few and far between.
Reeves is an absolute blast as the titular John Wick, fully embracing the cheesy one liners and satisfying executions his persona has become associated with. A nice addition is that Reeves is performing many of the stunts you see on-screen, further adding to the authenticity of the bad ass assassin that is Wick. With an assortment of bloody fun fight scenes that pay homage to earlier remarks made of Wick’s back story, such as finally seeing John execute some baddies with a pencil, makes this sequel pure fun as its finest.
In addition, not only are the new fight scenes an excellent display of carnage, but we also get some new, interesting characters to back it all up. Laurence Fishburne makes an appearance as an uneasy ally to Wick, and Scamarcio as Santino plays the perfect “you’ll love to hate him” persona that helps drive these kinds of movies forward, and with a devious henchwoman named Ares (Ruby Rose) at his side, there’s plenty of new and old faces to make this movie a mix of epic clashes.
However, some have remarked Chapter 2 is better than the first film. While this sequel definitely lives up to the name of John Wick, it also doesn’t quite feel like the near perfect refined thrill-ride the first one was. Chapter 2 does a great job of setting up John’s world to make this next story an interesting one, but that forces the action to take a slight back seat for most of the film’s first half. In the original John Wick, it was a little more satisfying to see a guy murder his way through waves of thugs to avenge the death of his beloved dog. Here, it’s a little more complicated. And I get it, you can’t just have John Wick’s new dog getting killed as well and setting up the story for the sequel, the direction they chose to take this film was definitely a great one. It’s just hard to ignore the fact that this sequel is a tad bit slower in pacing.
Nevertheless, John Wick: Chapter 2 will inarguably satisfy fans of the first. While seeing the first would help you understand the film’s opening, even newcomers to the series will have a guilty blast watching the bloody violence unfold on-screen. And with a “Chapter 3” already in the works, those curious about the series should just bite the bullet and jump on board. This wick is far from burnt out, as John Wick: Chapter 2 serves up another helping of brutal fun.