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Most sequels to successful action movies usually follow the same plot, it picks up where the original film left off, rehashes the same plot to what made the film successful in the first place and throws in some kind of origin story to get to know the main character and in essence, kind of ruining his mystery. I’m happy to say thank god, John Wick Chapter 2 does not do any of that which leads to about 1 hour and 41 minutes of Keanu Reeves killing everyone who stands in his way, literally.
The first John Wick tells the story of a former hitman who left the business when he met his wife. After his wife dies of illness, she sends him a posthumous gift of a dog, so he will not have to grieve alone. He encounters some thugs out one day admiring his car and refuses to sell when one of them offers to buy. The thugs follow him home, steal his car, and kill his dog. Little do they know, that not John Wick was a hitman, he is the boogeyman, the most dangerous hitman that there ever was. And he will not stop until single person involved in the dog’s murder is dead.
John Wick 2, picks up right where the first one left off, leading to a cold opening with a brilliant action sequence when John now has to pick up his car. Due to the nature of the business, John cannot retire and come back without consequences. A former business associate (Riccardo Scamarcio) comes back into John’s life to cash in a favor, owed to him by John. If this favor is not performed, John will die. Santino informs him he must go to Rome, to complete one last job. While John is led to believe that a job he can perform and go on with his life, it leads to dire consequences.
John Wick and John Wick 2 are must like those throwback action movies from the 80’s, like Commando and Predator, where there is a lot of violence with little explanation necessary. Its’ not trying to introduce minor characters who could become major characters in future movies, there’s no backstory for the main character or the villain and how they became enemies. John Wick does not have any weird super powers. It’s a refreshingly old-fashioned action movie with guns and hand-to-hand combat.
The difference with John Wick 2 is that it takes more time to show the hitman world that was setup briefly in the first one. The hitmen stay in certain hotels, have to abide by certain rules, and even have their own currency. Here we see that the hotel provides John Wick with his custom made suits, gives him his guns, and it is all paid for with gold coins that only hitmen use. When the hitmen come to stay, they are not allowed to conduct business aka kill people inside. The first hour includes further exploration of this world, and it is fascinating to watch.
The second hour is all action. The fight choreography is perfect, and the filming of it is immaculate. Long uncut shots, rather than choppy shaky cam, where you can not only see the characters fighting but you can almost feel the punches and the stabs.
The only complaint that I have about John Wick Chapter 2, is the motivation this time around for John to come back from retirement. The original’s plot was simple but so surprising and effective that its’ hard to follow that up with something just as good. Also, the first John Wick was such a good standalone movie, I’m sure the writer was not expecting that he would have a franchise.
Nevertheless, John Wick 2 is a great action film. Its’ funny, the action scenes are amazing, and it still manages not to take itself too seriously. And I can’t wait for John Wick 3.