This follow-up to the surprisingly successful 2014 action-flick does everything that a sequel should: take the same basic characters and concepts and make them even more fun.
In 2014’s John Wick, the titular character (Keanu Reeves) is forced out of retirement to deal out righteously violent vengeance for the death of his dog and the theft of his car. In John Wick: Chapter 2, he has to deal with the consequences of ending his retirement as he is sucked back into the brutal politics of the assassins’ guild he left behind.
That’s pretty much it… and that’s one of the things that makes this film so successful.
By focusing on the breathless action, incredible visuals, and kinetic fight scenes that made the first film so much fun, John Wick: Chapter 2 avoids making the mistakes that weigh down so many action sequels. The introduction of new depth to the clandestine association of contract killers (particularly those played by Common and Ruby Rose), the Continental and its network of specialists, and the rules by which they all play, the film fleshes out the universe without slowing down the action.
The spectacularly choreographed fights are truly a sight to behold. The characters, all experts in their fields, lash out with vicious precision with such grace that the film feels almost like a ballet at times. I mean, if ballet involved people being shot, stabbed, and blown-up in wildly creative ways.
Sure, John Wick: Chapter 2’s general disinterest in explaining itself leaves many questions unanswered, but they are the kind of questions that you don’t mind just asking and speculating on. Why does The Sommelier (played by the utterly brilliant Peter Serafinowicz) curate weapons like a fine liquor cabinet? What’s the story behind Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne)? Is Ares (Ruby Rose) just mute or did something happen to her? Did she get her tongue cut out or is it just another one of the crazy personas that the assassins take upon themselves?
John Wick: Chapter 2 is action boiled down to its very essence. Anything superfluous has been trimmed off and details are left for inquiring viewers to speculate on. Not that you’ll have much time to speculate during the thirty seconds you get after one fight ends and the next one begins.
Rated: R for strong violence throughout, some language and brief nudity
Directed by: Chad Stahelski
Written by: Derek Kolstad
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Ian McShane, Laurence Fishburne, Ruby Rose, Riccardo Scamarcio, John Leguizamo, Common
Release Date: February 10, 2017 (USA)
Runtime: 2h 2min