Lethal assassin John Wick is once again forced out of retirement in John Wick: Chapter 2. After tying up loose ends by recovering his stolen car from Russian gangster Abram Tarasov (Peter Stormare), John Wick (Keanu Reeves) prepares to once again retire from the life of an assassin. However, Wick is approached by Italian crime lord Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio), who reminds Wick of the blood oath he made when he retired. Forced to accept an assassination job, Wick finds himself betrayed after the job’s completion, with a price being put on the assassin’s head.
2014’s John Wick resulted in a bit of a career resurgence for Keanu Reeves, who found himself at the lead of a new action franchise. While the original film was a relatively simple tale of revenge, John Wick: Chapter 2 goes a bit deeper into this underground world of assassins, which was established in the first film by the Continental Hotel run by Winston (Ian McShane).
In some ways, John Wick’s interactions with this assassin’s society makes him seem like a gritty Jame Bond, particularly through a montage that sees him being fitted with a bulletproof suit and meeting with the Q-like Sommelier (Peter Serafinowicz) to get his weapons. The James Bond connection can be extended to the film’s villain Santino D’Antonio, who is accompanied by silent henchwoman Ares (Ruby Rose).
In many ways, John Wick: Chapter 2 abandons any sense of realism that the original film might have had, in exchange for going full-force with the neon-lit stylized action sequences. The film features some very well executed fight choreography and the film is worth watching for the violence action alone. There is also some dark humour at play throughout the film, particularly in a sequence that reveals that practically anyone on the street can be a member of the assassins network.
John Wick: Chapter 2 features the return of both Ian McShane and Lance Reddick as the staff at the Continental Hotel safehouse, with Franco Nero making a special appearance as the manager of the Continental’s Rome location. The film drops hints that this network of assassins expands well beyond these hotels and John Wick: Chapter 2 ends by setting up the third film in this planned trilogy.
Overall, it can be said that John Wick: Chapter 2 is a worthy follow-up to one of the better action films to come around in a while, even though it’s now fully in franchise territory, as opposed to the first film’s simple stand-alone revenge story.