There’s an old saying about honor among thieves. Apparently, that saying applies to assassins too. The world and code of assassins expands in the world of John Wick, Chapter 2. Let’s face it, the movie is a car chase, gun play, hand-to-hand kill fest. But it helps to have a compelling story to link the action together and Chapter 2 is an excellent sequel to the first.
Release Date: February 10, 2017
Writer: Derek Kolstad
Director: Chad Stahelski
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Lawrence Fishburne, Ian McShane, Common, Ruby Rose, Riccardo Scamarcio
Shortly after the events of John Wick, Chapter 1, John (Keanu Reeves) thinks he’s finally out of the assassination game, until he is visited by an old acquaintance, Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio). Santino has come to call in a marker, a blood oath, from when Wick needed Santino to help him with the impossible task. Wick refuses to honor the marker and Santino blows up Wick home and he loses everything.
While seeking refuge at the Continental, the assassin’s safehaven, Wick is informed by manager Winston (Ian McShane) that he is honor-bound to fulfill the marker. There is nothing the society can do to release him from this contract. Agreeing to fulfill this final oath, Wick must assassinate Santino’s sister, Gianna D’Antonio (Claudia Gerini), the current leader of the D’Antonio crime family. Of course, with Gianna’s removal, Santino can now takeover the family.
Wick decides to murder Gianna at her installation ceremony in Italy. As with any good crime story, things go horribly wrong. Wick is confronted by Gianna’s bodyguard Cassian (Common), who appears to be the athletic equal of Wick. Santino, you guessed it, turns on Wick and is now being hunted by hearing-impaired body guard of Santino, Ares (Ruby Rose).
First, John Wick: Chapter 2 is an action film. Its starts with a clever car fight, not a car chase. It’s an actual fight with cars. But then the movies becomes one fight sequence after another. Each sequence is a combination of hand-to-hand and gun fights. Watch closely the fights with Cassian, where Wick is pushed to the edge fighting an opponents that is as good as he is. Near the end though the sequences can feel quite labored.
Second, John Wick is a fantasy film. Just like Chapter 1, the real fun of the film is the world of assassin’s and the Continental society. From a story standpoint, Chapter 2 is less about John Wick and his desire to return to normal life. The real movie is about the secret society and its rules that bind one to blood oaths, membership benefits and what happens when a members break its most cardinal rule—“never conduct business on Continental property.”
Third, John Wick is a sequel and just as good a movie as the first. Sequels give filmmakers time because there is no need to introduce the main characters. So, the world of the Continental gets to be expanded with the cool and obligatory weapons and armor store demos. We also get to see the consequences of challenging this elite society. And like a good sequel, it ends is an intriguing cliffhanger, which demands the story to continue.
John Wick: Chapter 2 succeeds as a sequel because it captures the flavor and spirit of the first film and tells a good story. The only negative is it leaves audiences a little frazzled by repetitive fight sequences. One also has to wonder with such a high body count, are there any people left in the world to kill?