John Wick: Chapter Two Review
I was pretty big fan of "John Wick," I love any solid revenge flick. Being an animal person, I loved the way they deconstructed the idea of a revenge flick. I liked how Wick lost something dear to him but it wasn't more of the same. Then it just turns into one awesome, crazy action movie. Its an action movie that is brought to life by an amazing cast of characters, all of whom made it count more than it had to. I loved the movie, but anytime there is talk of a sequel, there is always some hesitation. Any time there is talk of a sequel, I get instantly nervous that I am going to see the same movie a second time. I mean at the end of "John Wick," we see him walk off with another dog, and I don't know if I had the stomach of seeing the brutal death of another dog.
As I watched this second film unfold, there are some similarities. John Wick (Keanu Reeves) wants to finally begin his retirement from being a badass hitman. But he is greeted by a man from his past. This man is Santino D'Antino (Riccardo Scamarcio). Apparently, this Santino guy helped wick with that big job that made him legend. It was supposed to be a known rule that if Santino ever needed Wick's help, that Wick would honor that rule. But Wick really wants out of the hitman business, he begs Santino to find someone else. Santino agrees to leave, but not before blowing up Wick's house. Thankfully, Wick's new dog wasn't in the house and SPOILER ALERT, all dogs are alive by the end of the film.
Wick heads for the Continental Hotel in New York, the hotel from the first film that seems to house the worst of the worst from around the world. He meets with The Manager (Ian McShane) who tells Wick that one of the two unbreakable codes of the underworld are that he must honor the rule of the Marker, which Santino set up with Wick before his unbreakable task. Wick finally decides to meet with Santino for his task. Santino wants Wick to kill his sister so that he can be a high ranking member of a group of crime lords. Wick accepts this job.
But crime lords being crime lords, nobody keeps their word, and soon Wick's life is once again in danger. Once again, its Wick versus the world. So it may be similar to the first film in some aspects, but its not a complete tread of water. While the first film was about a man being forced back into a world that won't let him go, "Chapter 2" is a film where the past continues to haunt you, and the realization that there maybe no way to escape your past.
The film once again benefits from an A-list cast that makes this little revenge movie count more than it should. Keanu Reeves throws himself into every scene, every moment, he chews on every piece of dialogue like its the last time he'll ever star in a movie. I don't know what it is about this franchise, but it has awoken Reeves in a way that is exciting. It was also fucking awesome to see Neo and Morpheus share oxygen on the same set again. Yes, Laurence Fishburne shows up as a crime lord who helps Wick during a crucial moment in the film. It was awesome to see the two bounce off of each other again. McShane, John Leguizamo, Ruby Rose, Common...everyone does better than average work here. What ensues is a revenge movie that matters more than it should.
Also its fucking fun as hell to watch!
The action this time around seems to be grittier, edgier and zanier than before. Its a more pulse-pounding, blood-soaked experience this time. I am not trying to say that a more violent movie makes a better movie. But any sequel makes everything bigger in scale. The action is no different here, this is an upgrade that is more badass than ever before.
This was a franchise I would have never guessed would have become a thing. But now its a thing and now I am wildly excited about it. There is a set up for a third film so juicy that its got to happen. Honestly, it probably will happen. This sequel has already overtaken the monetary profit of the first film so this third film is guarantee. I hope they can find cool ways to expand this world, up the stakes for Wick and keep churning out kick-ass films. Here's to hoping they can continue to pull it off.
FINAL GRADE: A-