In anticipation of John Wick 3: Parabellum I rewatched John Wick and John Wick: Chapter 2. This is the second of the two reviews.
John Wick: Chapter 2 once again stars Keanu Reeves in the titular role of John Wick. Chapter 2 continues the story that began in the first John Wick. John attempts to go back to his life of retirement but news of his escapades reach an old associate. This same associate holds a marker, or McGuffin if you ask me, which forces John to do one more job before he can officially retire. Once the job is completed this same associate sets a bounty on John’s head and the killing spree continues.
John Wick Chapter 2 has a lot more action then the first John Wick. The problem with the action is it doesn’t feel as meaningful because the story took a much bigger back seat this time around. The new villain is not nearly as compelling and their is no dead dog tragedy to put heart behind the action. While we want John Wick to retire because that’s what he wants, we also just want him to keep fighting because it’s so awesome to watch and our eyeballs need this visceral Gunfu.
The world building jumps up a notch as we get to visit The Continental in Rome and realize that the secret world of assassins is much bigger than just New York. Ian McShane once again does a great job as Winston the manager of The New York Continental. We also get introduced to The Bowery King played by Lawrence Fishburne, Matrix reunion anyone, who owns a network of homeless assassins. He basically plays the John Wick universe equivalent of Varys from Game of Thrones. Instead of little birds he has tactical bums.
The action set pieces in this film build upon its predecessor. The car chase at the beginning starts the film off with a bang. We are treated to glorious Gunfu action at a rave located at some catacombs in Italy. I also really enjoyed the montage other assassins, including a sumo wrestler assassin, coming after John Wick once he has the bounty placed on his head after return to New York. The final action set peace at the museum is another great Gunfu set piece that truly showcases how well these movies choreograph action and gun play.
The primary antagonist this time around is named Santino, played by Ricardo Scamarcio. He is basically an entitled brat who once to sit at the big kids table and forces John further out of retirement. Scamarcio does a good job at playing the character and Santino ultimately gets what he deserves. Common does a descent job as one of the primary assassins named Cassian. He isn’t asked to do much but he holds his own in the action scenes with Reeves. Ruby Rose is fine in the role of Ares. It was nice to see a deaf character in an action movie and she does a good enough job with what she is given.
While this entry in the burgeoning franchise lacks the narrative drive of the first film it does not fail to up the action and expand its rich world. Even though the narrative is lacking, the film ends with the perfect narrative twist for what could be a truly epic conclusion to this story. John Wick: Chapter 2 feels less like a stand alone movie and more like the set up for Chapter 3.
Regardless, the film is fun to watch and has me wanting more Gunfu from Keanu Reeves who I hope continues playing this character for many years to come.