If you would like to read my review of the first film, click here.
Synopsis: After unleashing mayhem on the criminals who killed his dog, retired super assassin John Wick retrieves his beloved 1969 Mustang from the Russian mobsters who stole it, only to be pursued in a spectacular high-speed car chase through crowded New York City streets. Returning home, John’s plans to resume a quiet civilian life are cut short when Italian gangster Santino D’Antonio shows up on his doorstep with a gold “marker” compelling him to repay past favors. Ordered by Winston, kingpin of secret assassin society The Continental, to respect the organization’s ancient code, John reluctantly accepts the assignment to take out Santino’s own sister, Gianna, the ruthless capo atop the Italian Camorra crime syndicate. (eOne Films)
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Riccardo Scamarcio, and Ian McShane.
Writer: Derek Kolstad
Director: Chad Stahelski
Running Time: 122mins
The first film came of nowhere (even though I caught it late), with some of the greatest pure action since the first Taken film with Keanu Reeves leading the way playing the notorious assassin. The thing with a lot of action sequels, or even most sequels, perhaps coast on the success of their predecessors but this did not happen here as this new film took what made the first film great and just expanded on it, including the body count.
John Wick (Reeves) just can’t stay retired. He thought he was out before the first film and was pulled back in and this film was no different. The premise from the first film was a little silly but was better this time as a mobster from John’s past named Santino D’Antonio (Scamarcio) showed up to his house, compelling him to do another job for him. Wick refused despite D’Antonio invoking a gold marker to compel him to respect the secret assassin society of the Continental.
After some retaliation from D’Antonio, Wick eventually accepts the job of killing his sister Gianna (Claudia Gerini) so he can take her spot at the table of an international assassins guild. In doing so, he created a chain of events leading to him becoming a loose end and a target for D’Antonio. The first film offered us a glimpse of this secret society of assassins and this film expanded on this, giving us even more, still not enough though.
Wick’s assignment took him to Rome, where we saw the Italian equivalent of the Continental. In hopes of eliminating Wick, D’Antonio put out a contract on him, immediately follow by a multitude of different people receiving text messages, from a violinist, to a sumo wrestler, to garbagemen just to name a few. This gave us an idea of how big the assassin world really was and we didn’t always know who they all were which was exciting and allowed a few opportunities for some dark comedy.
The best part of the first film was the action and it continued here. The same great production value, from the camera work, choreography, and special effects were still here but were done on a grander scale without sacrificing the very personal feel. It was all very exciting to watch and there was more of it this time around. It was also just as fast paced but was broken up this time by more story.
Seeing him take on various henchmen and other assassins was still very satisfying and just as violent, if not more, than the previous film. All the blood really dirtied the rather clean-looking sets. They only elevated some of the film’s best action sequences featuring a New York subway terminal, Roman catacombs, and a hall of mirrors. The villain was a little underwhelming again but it didn’t really matter in the grand scheme.
Reeves was just as good here as Wick. The first film explored him on more of a personal level with his actions motivated by personal tragedy but this one kind of took a step back allowing more focus on the action. He was still very compelling to watch and fun in the action sequences, giving the same level of commitment even with the increased level with a few sequences standing out. Everyone else was good but it was still just Wick and then everyone else which was okay. The first film had more of a definite ending but this one had more of an open ending, leaving the possibility for more films.
Overall, this was a great action film sequel which built on what made the first film so great by doubling down on the action and featuring another excellent performance from Keanu Reeves.
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