2014’s “John Wick” was the directorial debut for stunt coordinators Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, who previously worked with star Keanu Reeves on “Point Break” and “The Matrix”. Although the film wasn’t a box office smash, it was highly praised by critics as well as old school action fans. “John Wick” was sleek and stylish but what was really impressive were the action sequences directed by two guys who knew how to stage them. “John Wick” is one of the best English language action films in the last two decades. Although Leitch chose to not return for the sequel Stahelski did and I am thankful for that.
In the first film, we learned an important lesson. That is to never steal John Wick’s car or kill his adorable puppy that was given to him by his late wife. If you do, you are in for a world of hurt. “Chapter 2” opens up with a high speed chase through New York City that leads to a warehouse belonging to some very bad guys. Unfortunately for them, they happen to have John Wick’s car in their possession and he wants it back. This leads to an over-the-top opening fight with fists, guns, and cars that gives’ fans of the first film exactly what they want.
Wick, now retired (again) just wants to be left alone in his big house with his new (unnamed) dog, but when former associate, Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamercio) comes calling to collect on a marker owed, John turns him down. Santino is not happy about this so he blows up John’s home. Because the rules of this profession state that one must honor a marker, John agrees to do the job. Not too thrilled with being tasked to kill Santino’s sister, Gianna (Claudia Gerini), John heads to Rome and gets things done. Even though the assassination goes by pretty smoothly, Gianna’s right-hand Cassian (Common) catches John and is now out for blood. To make matters worse Santino puts out a contract on John because he doesn’t want to leave any loose ends.
“John Wick Chapter 2” is 122 minutes of hardcore action done right. The “R” rating is well deserved and the self aware humor from the first film is also back. Ruby Rose makes for a beautiful silent assassin and I find it pretty impressive that she is in three action movies currently in theaters (“xXx Return of Xander Gage”, “Resident Evil The Final Chapter”, “John Wick Chapter 2”). Common has played a hitman multiple times and he is quite solid on the role, but was definitely happy to see Ian McShane, Lance Reddick, and John Leguizamo return for the sequel. Those guys make everything just a little bit better. We also get a “Matrix” reunion with Laurence Fishburne.
I knew going in that “Chapter 2” would be lesser film than the original, but it’s impossible to top what was given to us in 2014. Regardless, I hope enough people go see this in order for “Chapter 3” to get the green light. I hope Reeves becomes a box office draw again, so we can finally get that third “Bill and Ted” movie as well.
By: Marc Ferman