Keanu Reeves returns to the big screen in John Wick 2. The not so silent killer is still fairly cheesed off at shady mafia types and isn’t going to take it sitting down. No, he is going to murder just about everybody and everything, everywhere.
The story kicks-off, more or less, where the last movie finished. John Wick is wrapping up the final loose ends and collecting his stolen car from Russian gangsters. The opening scene is very loud, very violent and very awesome. John Wick still is quite fond of Jiu Jitsu-ing people before shooting them efficiently in the head.
With John Wick’s revenge orgy completed, he travels back to his murder palace and buries his guns and assassin gold – just in time for a mysterious Italian underworld figure to show up at his door with a marker. Conversations happen, houses explode and John Wick falls off the wagon, straight into another murder bender.
John Wick 2 expands the mythology from the first movie a great deal and explores the deeper machinations of the Continental hotel. The always excellent Lance Reddick reprises his role as the smooth as silk receptionist, Charon, and Ian McShane’s portrayal of Winston adds extra gravitas to proceedings. There is also a great turn by the enigmatic Peter Serafinowicz as the sommelier, not of fine wines but of oak-barrel aged guns ‘n ammo.
It’s extremely loud, violent and pretty stupid but in all the best ways
We also get a clearer picture into what seems to be a modernised version of an ancient underworld order of assassins and criminals. There are processes, oaths, councils, alliances that are either shown or hinted at that help round out the John Wickiverse (yeah I went there).
But let’s not mess around, you’re here to see people get shot in the face. That will happen many a time, dear friend – John Wick 2 ups the ante and then some. There are some amazing fight sequences and gun play, particularly between John Wick and rival assassin, Cassian (Common), who is, strangely, always cast as a hitman. The combat is at its most brutal and inventive when these two face off, the highlight of which being their epic brawl in Rome – worth the price of admission alone.
If I was going to knock this movie, and I will, it would be for its length. At just over two hours, John Wick 2 starts to run a little long in the tooth towards the end. A lot happens in this movie and with its greater emphasis on story I can understand the need for extra length but I did start to think about my watch and my bladder towards the final third.
Also, as amazing as the action was, by the end of the film it felt like it was repeating old tricks; watching John grab a dude's arm, combat roll, shoot four dudes and then shoot his captive in the head is awesome, but not as awesome when you see it for the 50th time.
That said, John Wick 2 is an awesome action movie and most likely will be one of the best this year. It’s extremely loud, violent and pretty stupid but in all the best ways. While I don’t think it’s a classic like the first movie, it establishes a very interesting universe, awesome rivalries and leaves me waiting anxiously for John Wick 3.